Sienna Somers, the savvy student  in lab coat and safety gogglesI believe gender equality is not only possible but achievable. I want to see this happen in my lifetime. At the current rate of progress, it will take 70 years to see gender-balanced boardrooms according to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. We cannot choose whether we are born into a male or a female body, but we can choose to treat both of them equally.

For gender equality to become a global reality, it is essential to address the underlying causes. How are we going to tackle issues such as violence against women, the pay gap (which stands at 19.1% in the UK) and unequal access to education when so few women hold positions of power, not just in the FTSE 100 but in government?

With women making up only 26% of candidates in Britain’s 2015 election, I believe we need to empower my generation to speak up for their values at all levels of society, from the home to government if we are to see change happen.

2015 has the potential to be a historically significant year. Women make up 70% of the world’s poor and are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men as they are highly dependent on natural resources. The Paris climate change conference needs to ensure the specific needs of women are addressed if we are not to see growing equality. The Sustainable Development Goals, to be decided upon this year, offer a real opportunity to push forward women’s rights and equality in the future. There are crucial decisions to be made this year. I want to encourage people to recognise their potential to influence global issues. We can make a difference at a global level by setting an example of best practice for others to follow and by making our voices heard worldwide through campaigns and social media.film Smurfs: The Lost Village 2017 online

As a woman in science, I find it disappointing and astonishing that only 13% of STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are occupied by women. An unconscious bias still seems to exist that these are typically “male” fields. I would like to explore whether female students feel inhibited from pursuing jobs in these disciplines and achieving their full potential.

Education needs to be at the forefront of change. By influential women interacting with groups such as local schools, I believe we can find ways to encourage and promote a new generation of women to these essential disciplines.

 

With UK shoppers throwing away enough clothing to fill Wembley Stadium each year, our attitude towards fashion needs to change.  Fast fashion means that we can buy what we want and discard it with equal abandon.  New collections come and go so quickly that I don’t have time to fall in love with a beautiful piece of clothing, save up for it, and then cherish it. By the time I have earned enough money, it will be long gone from the rails.

 watch movie Smurfs: The Lost Village now

haulternative

 watch movie Smurfs: The Lost Village now

Buying vintage fashion, I can own beautiful quality, timeless pieces which come with ready-made authenticity, whatever decade happens to be on trend.  I also never have to worry about meeting anyone else wearing the same outfit!

My Haulternative for Fashion Revolution Day is different to a traditional haul. I want to demonstrate that vintage fashion really can provide a viable alternative, not just to the High Street but to Designer fashion as well.  From my floor-length, gold Gucci dress worn 20 years ago on Blind Date, to my denim Burberry jacket picked up from a stand at Glastonbury, here is my vintage #haulternative.

To see more of my fabulous vintage finds, from £10 gold Valentino trousers to red Sergio Tacchini Tennis shorts for a quid, check out my previous blog on Preloved Clothing.

Vintage clothing comes with a ready-made story attached. I wonder who has worn it and where it has travelled. Fashion Revolution Day, on the 24th of April, wants you to think about the story behind your clothes, and ask brands and retailers #WhoMadeMyClothes?

“Be curious, find out, do something.
Become a part of the solution.
You can help to change the world, one outfit at a time”

On 24th of April, I will be supporting Fashion Revolution Day. If you want to join in too, watch my short video to find out how.

 watch movie Smurfs: The Lost Village now

 watch movie Smurfs: The Lost Village now

emma watson

This week I made a video about How to Join the Fashion Revolution.

To demonstrate how to take a selfie showing your label, I wore my favourite T-Shirt with the slogan WE ARE THE SEA.

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And then I started wondering:

Who made the T-Shirt I was wearing in the video? Where was the cotton grown?  Where was it printed?

 

 

So, I decided to contact the brand, We are Islanders, and ask them #WhoMadeMyClothes?

This is the fantastic reply which I have just received from Erin at We Are Islanders:

“Hi Sienna, thanks for asking! Your We Are The Sea t-shirt is from Continental Clothing’s Earth Positive Apparel collection, meaning it is 100% organic with 90% reduced CO2.

The production of this t-shirt has been audited by the Fair Wear Foundation before being hand-printed by the We Are Islanders team in a Dublin print collective.”

 

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We Are Islanders also sent me some photos of them screenprinting T-Shirts like the one I wore, so now I really do know Who Made My T-shirt!

 

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I have never once considered myself a plus-sized model, yet I don’t fit the mould of the willowy size 6 models. However, a flow of normal-sized models are beginning to sweep the fashion industry.

 

Sienna Somers, savvy student

Sienna Somers, photographed by Dave Purgas

The French Parliament have proposed a legislation to set a minimum weight for any model working in France, whether it be catwalk, editorial or high fashion. Models would be required to have a healthy BMI, which is considered above 18. The average model is 5 foot 9 and would have to weigh around 125 pounds, whilst the current average weight for a model is between 90-120 pounds. Employers would be required to ask models for proof of healthy BMI, both before and after a model is employed. Regular weight checks with agencies and employers would be enforced and violators could face a fine of up to 75,000 euros and six months in prison.

This legislation aims to reduce the glorification of too-thin women, in the hope to combat anorexia. It is estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia, a number which is ever increasing.

Plus sized models have been taking the modelling industry by storm in the last year, with Ashley Graham being the first plus-sized model to ever be published in Sports Illustrated.

 

sports illustrated, ashley grahamdownload Names on the Cup 2017 movie

 

Whilst the rise of plus sized models is a fantastic thing, it also raises some other issues, nowadays, anyone who doesn’t conform to the thin model ideals are automatically filed under the plus-sized model category. I consider myself one of the individuals stuck in this nameless limbo. Normal-sized model Myla Dalbesio, a healthy sized 10 was recently cast in a Calvin Klein‘s “Perfectly Fit” campaign and discusses size in an interview as part of the What’s Underneath project.

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If the french legislation is successful, this could revolutionise the fashion industry and the models of the future. Most of the ‘it girls’ of the last 20 years have been under the healthy BMI; Kate Moss- 16, Cara Delevigne- 16, Jordan Dunn-15, Miranda Kerr-16, Rosie Huntington-Whitely-17. These faces may stop becoming regulars at Paris Fashion Week. Hopefully this will encourage healthy sized people to pursue modelling and change the modelling industry.

 

Visiting London Fashion Weekend is like going to a huge sample sale.  Although spending money to go shopping may seem like an alien concept to a lot of students, the savings you make on one garment can easily eclipse the price of the entrance ticket.
london fashion weekend savvy student sienna somers

The Luxe Lounge houses two areas which I would highly recommend as your first stop: the LFW Pop-up and Shop the Catwalk.  This is where you may will find rails from the designers who actually show at London Fashion Week. Although prices may be a little higher in this area, with some deep discounts it brings designer clothing within a student budget.  The quality of the garments in this area was noticeably higher as well, meaning that if you look at cost per wear over the lifetime of the garment, rather than overall cost, you will undoubtedly be saving money.

The LFW Pop-up area included a rail of Christopher Raeburn’s clothing, although I think I’ll wait for SS15 collection to appear at London Fashion Weekend as loved the deep olive parachute silk which he used this season.  A new discovery was J. JS LEE – great cut and I loved the checked wool dresses with the lower part being brushed to blur up the checks.  So cosy for winter and would be a wardrobe staple for many years.  And best of all, everything was made in England.

In the Shop the Catwalk section, most of the Pringle outlet in Morning Lane seems to have moved down to Somerset House.  A large stand with some beautiful knitwear, of course, and gorgeous dresses.

savvy student sienna somers london fashion weekend

Although attracted by the popping tangerine top at Osman, my eye was caught by a rich, black velvet skirt at Markus Lupfer.  Despite telling myself I don’t need any more black in my wardrobe, this was a classic I couldn’t resist.  At just £70, the quality feels amazing, thick and heavy velvet with a great sheen which feels more like pony skin, and the classic flared shape just skimming the knee means that this is an item of clothing which could stay in my wardrobe for decades to come.  Best of all, the label says Made in England.  Apparently most of the dresses at Markus Lupfer, and obviously some skirts, are made in a studio in Hoxton.

Amid several stands selling vintage and faux fur, a new discovery for me was Karl Donoghue.  Their luxury jackets and accessories are all handcrafted in combinations of shearling, leather and fur, finished with touches of buffalo horn trim.  But this is no ordinary ‘fur’ and certainly shouldn’t send a shiver down the sustainable shopper’s spine.  Karl Donaghue pride themselves on providing a cruelty-free option.    Every item is crafted and hand-finished in the UK and the brand prides themselves on a cruelty-free production process, as well as recycling offcuts.  Lambskin earmuffs came in some great pastel shades such as lemon and coral, as well as a range of natural tones and textures.karl donoghue ear muffs london fashion weekend savvy student sienna somers

Upstairs, don’t miss Finchittida Finch, a London-based jewellery label by twin sisters: Lisa & Tida Finch. This amazing company vows that every purchase from them helps fund Mines Advisory Group bomb disposal in Laos.  Their new Empress Collection embodies cultural diversity and courageous women, you’ll be sure to make a statement wearing these incredible pieces.