At Outsider we are passionate about raising awareness of issues surrounding sustainability, it's been in our DNA since we launched in 2009. So we were really inspired to see one of our customers wearing our organic cotton shirt dress while taking part in activism in response to the climate crisis.
Here we ask Jane Tavener about herself and Extinction Rebellion.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do...
I live in Malvern, next to the lovely Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, UK. Apart from being an active participant in my local Extinction Rebellion group, in my spare time I also love wandering around the hills enjoying the natural world, doing various creative stuff, seeing friends, going to gigs, reading....... I work at Herefordshire Biological Records Centre as a Biological Data Officer, helping to collate and disseminate data about the flora and fauna of Herefordshire.
Why is sustainability and ethics in fashion important to you?
I really love clothes, they bring me a lot of joy and form an important part of my identity and self-expression. But due to my love of nature, and my fears over how the impact humans are having on our planet are threatening our survival, it's also very important to me to try and minimise my environmental impact in all areas of my life, including fashion. Some might regard fashion as a bit frivolous or not a necessity, and for some people it probably isn't, which is fine, but people have always adorned and expressed themselves through clothing and I think it's important to acknowledge that although the fashion industry currently causes a great deal of harm, a desire for creative expression through attire is part of the human experience.
As a member of Extinction Rebellion, can you share what you aim to achieve through your activism?
Extinction Rebellion has attracted people from all walks of life, many who have never been involved in this kind of activism before - myself included. It's the first time I've engaged in any kind of civil disobedience and my hope is that as a fairly 'normal' person (i.e. up until this point I've been a good citizen - worked, paid my taxes, obeyed the law), by being part of XR, friends, family and others who know me will begin to see how important this is. I've chosen to give quite a lot of my time and energy to this cause as I believe it is our final chance to create the changes necessary for the human species to survive. The scale of the challenge we face can be difficult for us to get our heads around but I'm hoping that my involvement in XR, particularly as part of its regenerative culture, shows others that XR has a lot to offer in terms of helping us come to terms with how scary it all feels, and channeling those feelings into useful action. My love of nature has also informed one of my specific offerings to my local XR group, which has been co-leading nature walks in and around the Malvern Hills. These have been really well-received, with each one attracting people new to XR, and giving us all an opportunity to connect with nature and each other - building social bonds and resilience which are vital when it comes to participating in non-violent direct action.
What are your top tips for people hoping to engage with fashion in a more sustainable way?
I love buying second hand, most often from charity shops and also sometimes from websites like eBay. It's a great way to find unusual pieces, you never know what you might come across especially in charity shops. When I need to buy new (for me that would be for underwear, if I'm looking for something specific, or just to treat myself!) I try to buy from an ethical retailer. There is a lot more choice than there used to be and I like the free Good On You app which gives fashion retailers an ethical rating. It's good for checking the score of well-known high street retailers and finding new ethical, sustainable brands. I've also found a few via Instagram - as I already follow quite a few sustainable fashion brands it often shows me sponsored content from others. I'm also a bit cautious about getting rid of clothes - I like to hang onto things if I have space, you never know when something you haven't worn for a few years turns out to go perfectly with a new purchase.
Photos by Sharon White.
Outsider. Ethical & Sustainable Fashion since 2009.