When actor Billy Porter, he of the magnificent series “Pose” fame, turned up in a gold crêpe, black-belted jumpsuit for his television interview on Stephen Colbert’s late show, the audience was suitably impressed. Not only was he clad in the season’s hottest shade and style, he wore it as one might expect a latter-day diva to. Pairing it with chunky black platform wedges, he sauntered effortlessly into his interviewee’s seat and began his banter with the affable host. It is, however, one of Porter’s erstwhile outfits that most concerns us here. Displaying some of the talented actor’s previous style efforts on cut-out boards, Colbert discussed a few of his favourite fashion choices sported by Porter. Among these was a striking vermilion velvet sleeveless jacket and matching cropped trousers ensemble, set off by a long pink tulle train, with a high-necked white shirt worn underneath by way of contrast, which Porter wore to the Tony Awards earlier this month. Dubbed a “gender-fluid uterus suit” by way of supportive reference to women’s reproductive rights, Porter certainly did not disappoint in his wont to make a public statement via his own very particular signature style. Yet his outfit made another, very significant statement, which he reiterated in his interview with Colbert. Fashioned by New York label Celestino Couture, it was composed of the material from the curtains featured in Porter’s “Kinky Boots” performance, making use of the concept of upcycling, that is, creating couture out of fabric which had begun life as something else.
…making use of the concept of upcycling, that is, creating couture out of fabric which had begun life as something else.
Porter is by no means the first A-lister to support the notion of upcycled fashion. Famous names such as Oprah Winfrey and Drew Barrymore have lent their support to such eco-aware designers as Stella McCartney, for instance, who has created clothes out of sustainable materials, and reused her own earlier inventions. In order to really get to the heart of the matter surrounding the concept of a revolution in fashion, though, we need to explore its roots.
The ecologically forward have always been aware that most brands of mass-produced fashion have perennially been lacking in a social conscience. In general, past practices by massive clothing industry corporations have been less than kind to the environment and socially disadvantaged employees. Nonetheless, it took one utterly devastating occurrence to shake people up and truly open their eyes to the ugliness of voluminous production in the fashion industry. The crumpling of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh on the 24th April 2013 resulted in the deaths of over one thousand workers, most of them young women. In addition to the deceased, the injured, amounting to two-and-a-half thousand, exposed the deplorable conditions in which the employees in all five garment factories housed in the Rana Plaza had been working. The victims had been contributing to the production of clothing for large, globally influential and successful brands.
The incident not only sent shock waves around the world, but also set in motion a quest for knowledge about the origin of the fashion product. The question, “Who made my clothes?” and, it is implied, the need to know in what sort of environment they were produced, became of paramount importance. These are the primary pieces of information that the fashion revolution organisation wishes consumers to become aware of, and to ask questions about. Looking up and requesting information about the fashion brands that we, as consumers, chose to patronise, actually buying less clothes and taking the initiative to attend events and meetings where pre-loved clothes are swapped is all beneficial, as is the usage of second-hand, vintage and upcycled clothes.
There is the promotion of the hashtag #imadeyourclothes, one of the other concepts that the fashion revolution organisation is advocating. It encourages artisanal clothing makers, weavers, spinners, small cooperatives, individual producers and other small-size concerns involved in the fashion industry to declare their autonomy – the bottom line being that if you, as a consumer, choose to spend money on a specific garment or accessory, then you deserve to know that you are not contributing to the degradation or appalling working conditions of employees, or the damage of the planet’s ecology. Seemingly a small scheme, it carries very momentous repercussions and ramifications indeed. In order to learn more about the association and join the revolution, check this link out.