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The Sunday Times Schools Guide 2021 - Sixth Form College of the Year

Fast Fashion Free February 2024

(4 min read)

In a world where fashion trends come and go in the blink of an eye, it's crucial to pause and reflect on the environmental impact of our clothing choices. February marked a significant milestone for LAET, as students and staff joined hands to participate in Fast Fashion-Free February (FFFF) for the third year. This educational initiative, spearheaded by the Environmental Society and the Fashion Society, aimed to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of fast fashion on our planet, review our collective carbon footprint, and promote sustainable alternatives.

FFFF was not just about abstaining from purchasing fast fashion items (which more than 208 of our students pledged towards over the month); it was a holistic approach to fostering a more sustainable mindset within the school community. The initiative encompassed educational quizzes, clothing swaps, and a captivating fashion show, all aimed at inspiring participants to rethink their consumption habits and embrace a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

The clothing exchange helped bring joy to the project, encouraging people to get new clothes by swapping, not buying. Students and staff were encouraged to bring good quality clothing and accessories they no longer needed and exchange them for tokens which could be spent at the Fast Fashion Free Market within the school. 

Students wearing thrifted clothes on non-school uniform day towards the end of the week.

"What I found most deeply moving about the process was the outpouring of support for teachers and students taking part in the fashion show and the genuine admiration for the thrifted clothes. On more than one occasion this FFFF I have heard a student say 'I'm coming back here', after visiting the thrift store TRAID in Walthamstow. That's the best news I've heard."  - Ms. Syme

The culmination of Fast Fashion-Free February was the much-anticipated fashion show, hosted by Levent (Y13), the president of LAET’s Fashion Society (funded by the grant he won via the Jack Petchey Award Scheme 2023). Historically, Levent has had a particular concern for environmental issues, leading visible mending workshops during Fast Fashion-Free February in 2023, joining London Citizens, and creating a sustainable fashion business. 

This wasn't your typical runway event showcasing the latest trends; instead, it was a celebration of creativity, sustainability, and individuality. Students and staff came together to showcase their unique style using sustainable, ethically sourced clothing items from TRAID or by upcycling old garments into new, fashionable pieces with some pieces being made of paper. The runway was alive with diversity, showcasing that sustainable fashion is for everyone, regardless of age.

As part of our coverage of Fast Fashion-Free February, we had the opportunity to sit down with Levent to get a deeper insight into his experience and perspective on sustainable fashion.

When asked why he thinks Fast Fashion is such a prominent issue today, especially in urban cities such as London, Levent acknowledged that it is a complex issue, citing socio-economic factors as a primary motivator for indulgence in fast fashion. The affordability of fast fashion, particularly in light of the cost of living crisis, has contributed to the increased popularity of fast fashion brands.

Levent also noted that, despite the cost-effectiveness of fast fashion, it creates larger issues of hyper-consumerism and subsequent waste and believes there needs to be a way to bridge the gap between the affordability and sustainability of clothing within the industry. He also recognised that there have been recent efforts to boost sustainability in fashion, particularly through online shopping avenues such as Vinted, Depop, and eBay.

Fast Fashion-Free February at LAE Tottenham was more than just a month-long initiative; it was a catalyst for change. By coming together to educate, inspire, and empower one another, we've taken a significant step towards a more sustainable future.