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Sexy Stories: <br> You Might Be Wearing One

Sexy Stories:
You Might Be Wearing One

fashion sustainability

At a gathering last year I listened with interest as Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director at The New York Times, explained that in order for consumers to get on board with the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ then we, the designers and makers of clothing, needed to find a way to make it sexy.

Margot Robbie in The Big Short,

Like a naked, bubble-bathed Margot Robbie explaining the key concepts of the financial crash in The Big Short kind of sexy (watch above). 

At first, this thought depressed me.

In order to get people’s attention, do ideas really need to be pitched in this way?

Surely we as consumers deserve more credit.


ethical sustainable fashion

In her 2013 TED Talk, Eva Kruse commented that when it comes to fashion, she wanted ‘to make it fashionable to think’.

Increasingly it seems that education and cultural capital are becoming more desirable than material goods in many industries, but this approach is proving far more difficult to take hold when it comes to fashion.

Because fashion is meant to be frivolous. It’s meant to be fun. It’s meant to be about having things. But at a time when clothing is being produced to such a low standard, is this quantity over quality really so desirable?

The words ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are general blanket terms that together can refer to hundreds of processes and people. And perhaps it’s this lack of clarity that makes them difficult to get on board with.


clothing ethics sustainability

Fair wages, valuable work, environmentally friendly materials, zero waste… These are all foundations of a better fashion industry. But what we, the wearers, are drawn to is creativity, craftsmanship and innovation. These are the words that capture the very essence of what the fashion industry should be.

And these stories are what many of the small brands falling under the ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ umbrella bring to the table.

Walking down any high street today is like walking through a graveyard…. not a soul in sight.

And I’m talking about the clothes, not the people.

Rack after rack of items. No craft, no finesse, no imagination. Their lack of story and purpose renders them soulless.

What if we dispensed with the words ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ altogether, and instead focused on the real, authentic, connecting human stories behind the clothes that we love.


ethical fashion sustainability

It is sometimes difficult to find these brands and their stories, but when you do, rest assured that you will be rewarded. The time you invest in learning about and discovering your clothes will be returned to you, as you delight in wearing them for years to come. 

It’s sexy to be interested, it’s sexy to care, it’s sexy to take action.

Understanding our value and power as consumers is key, and exercising that power can be pretty sexy too.


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All of the brands represented on the STUDY 34 platform are driven by individual desires to work towards change – whether that be the sourcing of responsible raw materials, investing in real craftsmanship during the manufacturing process, or seeking to create timeless pieces outside of fast fashion trends.

Oct 03, 2017

Thanks for such a lovely comment Roberta! Heart, soul and story, that’s what I seek from my clothes as well as their style. I too have fallen out of love with the high street and the more conventional way of shopping – in fact I sometimes find it very difficult to be on a high street watching people go in and out with so many shopping bags. For me, I love looking into how things are made, where they come from and what they’re made of and saving for them when I need them…

Ellie (STUDY 34)
Oct 01, 2017

Thanks for tagging me in this post on twitter. I just read it and loved it. I’m in total agreement with the small independent brands with real heart, soul and story. In fact that’s what drive me to set up the Ethical Brand Directory ( and the EBD Network. I believe a new breed of consumers are rising – where quality trumps quantity and craftsmenship is hailed mightn’t than mass produced. I have fallen out of love with the high street and I know many are following suit. We have a long way to go but thanks to you and others out there that fly the aunthenic flag for slow fashion – we can look forward to a better future for fashion. X

Sep 06, 2017

Thanks so much for your comment Kisha! When it comes to my clothes, I love being able to tell people who comment on them things like where they are from, what they’re made of and why AND often, that’s they’re from small independent brands trying to do things in a different and more interesting way! This is so much more interesting than just talking about the price and what shop they came from. Let’s make knowing the story behind your favourite item of clothing just as attractive as its style!

Ellie (STUDY 34)
Sep 06, 2017
I love the idea that stories are sexy. Sometimes I’m worried consumers are discouraged from thinking through marketing triggers that prime them to compulsively buy. But presenting knowledge dressed up through story telling allows consumers to digest the facts easier. That way they can transform their thinking about consciously consuming so their buying behaviors follow.

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