With London Fashion Week in full swing, who better to talk to about sustainable, responsible clothing purchases than Livia Firth
Her Eco-Age consultancy, based in West London, helps companies ‘manage their ethics and aesthetics’ – ie, advises on how to be responsible without short-changing on style. And, of course, with her Green Carpet Challenge she’s been getting husband Colin’s Hollywood colleagues to fall in line, and helping to instil a culture of good glamour among the A-list’s top echelons. But what does that mean for everyone else? Collectively chatted to her to find out how can we shop responsibly and yet fashionably – always, always fashionably – in London.
What does being a responsible consumer mean to you?
“We should define ourselves as active citizens rather than ‘consumers, and we can all be active citizens through our wardrobes by buying less and getting more fashion mileage out of every piece we decide to buy. Our wardrobes should be full of clothes we bought for love and quality, and with durability in mind – things that not only last more than one season, but for years to come!”
Tell us about your new capsule collection for Marks & Spencer: why them?
“At Eco-Age we have been fans of M&S since they launched their [sustainability-focused] ‘Plan A’ programme back in 2007 – when no other businesses were talking about transitioning to a sustainable model. When I worked on an edit of pieces from their collection last autumn it was the first time that Eco-Age and I had collaborated with a major high street brand to show that there is an alternative to fast fashion – and I am very excited about our new capsule collection.
“These are hopefully examples of timeless looks which can be worn by every kind of woman. They have been produced in M&S factories with the highest standards, both in social and environmental justice, and made with sustainable fabrics.”
Where in London would you recommend heading for the most stylish sustainable finds?
“Stella McCartney, but also an array of independent British designers, such as Christopher Raeburn, Emilia Wickstead, Roksanda Ilincic, Erdem and so on. If you ever buy a dress from these designers, you will keep it for ever, no? That is sustainable in itself… Also, London is such a special city for hidden gems such as William Vintage, who has a great collection, and markets such as Portobello. And last but not least, an array of amazing charity shops.”
Aside from M&S, which other brands are worthy of Londoners’ hard-earned cash?
“Beautiful Soul London has a stunning selection of floral gowns. They believe in slow fashion: designing pieces that can be cherished for a lifetime with a proud emphasis on UK-based production and British craftsmanship. People Tree also has a good selection of sustainable fashion pieces – a true pioneer for fairtrade fashion.”
What are your favourite items in your current wardrobe?
“I have a wardrobe which is the perfect mix of very old clothes (from my mum, vintage or from my twenties), hand-me-downs and new items such as the M&S culottes, which I wear at least once a week!”
What are the best shopping habits people can get into?
“Every time you buy something, always think: will I wear it a minimum of 30 times? If the answer is yes, then buy it – but you’d be surprised how many times you say no. Also, be proud to wear your pieces a number of times by posting your images on social media with the hashtag #30wears.”
Check out Livia’s capsule collection for M&S at marksandspencer.com.