FINALLY I can reveal what I’ve been hinting around and about for the past month; Couple weeks ago I bagged up my first ever brand collaboration!
I am now a Brand Ambassador for PIHKA collection! PIHKA is a small company founded by 3 young ladies in Tampere, Finland. They produce incredibly beautiful bags, shoes and jewellery from surplus leather with sustainability in mind throughout the process.
I am beyond excited! This is exactly what I put this blog up for in the first place; I wanted to promote, in particular, Finnish brands that embrace sustainability in their operations, processes and values overall.
Finland is a pioneer in sustainable production in many ways so, of course, I’m very proud of that having Republic of Finland written on my passport. And getting the opportunity of Brand Ambassadorship for such a classy company makes me burst with the feeling of succeees.
I will cover PIHKA as a brand more thoroughly next week but before that I wanted to talk a little bit about
What Does Sustainability Mean in Fashion
Note that this is not a sponsored post. Please read the disclaimer here.
I paid for both of the bags seen in these pictures and I do get
a percentage of possible future sales.
I feel ya, sustainability in fashion can make one feel completely powerless and like it’s a problem that can’t be solved. But the thing is, it actually can be solved! It depends on all of us and how we consume.
The first thing we need to do is to educate ourselves. And since this is a subject that I’ve noticed a lot of people struggling with, I wanted to help out by doing some research and bringing sustainable fashion literally closer to home by trying to make it a bit clearer (I hope).
What is sustainable fashion? How do you recognize sustainable brands? And most importantly, why should you go for the more expensive, sustainably produced item rather than the cheap fast fashion piece? All this coming up now!
I will use PIHKA as an example case in this post because they simply are the perfect example of a fashion brand that embraces sustainable values.
I honestly haven’t found a better example of a sustainable fashion brand with whom I could have such good communication links. The communication link is super important because I, and hopefully also you, will have questions on the subject, and this way we can easily get answers.
So, let’s start with the most obvious aspect of sustainable fashion;
The thing to know about fast fashion, and why it’s such an enormous threat to our environment and climate, is the fact that producing the needed raw materials requires vast amounts of water (which is a luxury in many parts on the planet), and incredible amounts of poisonous chemicals, like pesticides. Just think, you’re wearing a ton of pesticides per month…
Whereas brands that embrace sustainable values get their materials from environmentally friendly places. There are a lot of Finnish brands already in existence that have found ways to produce their raw materials cleanly and without pollution. If raw materials are collected from elsewhere, sustainable brands look for distributors of reusable materials, or materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
In PIHKA’s case, they use surplus cow leather that is left when the cows become something that ends up in your picnic basket. All the leather would otherwise be discarded to landfills but this way the whole animal gets used.
As we are (hopefully) aware, fast fashion items are produced in terrible conditions in countries where there are no unions or employee rights. In addition to the environment suffering, the people working in the mass-production factories with very little pay suffer as well.
Whether it’s raw materials or the actual clothes, the closer your clothes are produced the less the environment is strained. In addition, when production happens in, for example, the EU countries, you know that employees are paid salaries with which they can survive, and there are laws in place to protect them from being abused.
And before somebody comes whacking their finger at me, no! If we all abandoned fast fashion today, all those people being abused making the clothes in third world countries would not lose their livelihood. Because those are the areas with most population, so even if they only produced locally, the demand is there.
Again, PIHKA is a great example of this; they get their leather from Sweden and Germany, from factories that are constantly finding new ways to make their production more environmentally friendly. PIHKA makes sure themselves that the distributors are as sustainable as they say, in addition to which they want their raw materials to be trackable so that you can know exactly where they came from.
Visibility throughout the production chain
Do you know what the woman, who made that top you’re currently wearing, looks like? How many children does she have? No idea? Yeah, that’s fast fashion for you; faceless and thus completely elusive when it comes to not treating people and environment with the respect they deserve.
Sustainable brands, on the other hand, are very much transparent. They do not mind sharing their production processes for everyone to see, or the actual people making those items. Let’s look at PIHKA:
They don’t just have their own names and pictures available on their website, they also arrange courses where you can go and see how the bag-making process works. You also get to make your own bag! I’m going to such a course in June and can’t wait to show it to you guys as well!
True sustainable brands have no need to hide anything from their customers because they know that everything’s legit. And THAT is a huge reason why fast fashion needs to go, the sooner the better!
Sustainable values on company level
Sustainable values should not be displayed only in the production of your clothes, but should reach all the way to how the company itself is run. By this I mean that the company encourages, or even provides their employees with environmentally friendly working spaces and tools.
Brands like Mother of Pearl (MOP) and PIHKA want their employees to lead as environmentally friendly lives as their production chains are required to do.
This can mean simple changes on a daily basis, like banning any plastic products from the office kitchen, including lunch containers and plastic bags. The company can provide their employees with alternative options, and very often the employees themselves already lead sustainable lifestyles.
Of course, this is something that we consumers can very rarely track since few companies will allow outsiders into their office kitchen. But the companies who embrace sustainable values on every level are glad to talk about it and often have this information available, for example, on their website.
Trends change slowly
Now THIS! I had never thought about this aspect of fashion, but the lovely ladies at PIHKA brought it to my attention when we were chatting about their company values and sustainable operations. They directed my attention to the fact that, even though we’re used to trends changing every couple months, it really doesn’t need to be like that.
In the olden days (about 10 years ago) Fashion Weeks happened twice a year. They still do, but in addition to these nowadays gigantic runway events, most big fashion houses arrange inter-seasonal fashion shows, which also have become huge productions when it comes to staging, and particularly the amount of waste.
I have 2 friends who have worked in the fashion industry, and discussing the industry with them made me feel slightly sick; I never knew that one fashion house makes 900-1000 garments for one fashion show but only 100-120 of them end up on the runway! The rest goes to waste…
Even though these high-end clothes are handmade in Europe, the fact is that most of these extraordinary pieces of clothing end up in the landfills, which is completely counterproductive.
The thing is, trends really don’t need to change as often as they do. When you’ve got great design mixed with good quality, the clothes and accessories should be good for more than just one season.
For example, PIHKA doesn’t come up with new designs regularly. Why should they? Their bags are classics in terms of design, and come in different tones, so they cover every season. And their products were made to last for years, even decades. Why couldn’t rest of the fashion industry take on this frame of mind as well?
I totally get that we need new ideas for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter seasons! I enjoy coming up with new outfit ideas when the season changes, I would never deny that! But could there be some other way to do this than by producing thousands, maybe millions of pieces of clothing that will never be worn even by the models? This is a discussion I’d love to hear and be part of!
But how can I afford it?
Yep, this is the point where many people end up walking away from sustainably produced clothes; higher prices. But at the end of the day, the answer to the headline’s question is simple:
By stopping those Primark hauls today! Nobody needs 5 new T-shirts a week. Oh, I know how good shopping feels, I really do! Being the absolute materialist that I am (you should’ve seen my face when I got these bags handed over to me!)
But I also know that when you shift from shopping once a week to shopping once a month that one, perhaps more expensive item makes you 10 times happier than those 5€ T-shirts with fading colours and shrinking fabrics.
Higher price in fashion also means higher quality. These PIHKA bags will last for decades! And good quality leather is the best fabric to invest in because it becomes more beautiful the older and more worn it gets. Which means that I don’t need to buy a new clutch any time soon!
Because sustainable brands don’t change their product catalogs every couple months you have time to save up for that piece that you absolutely have to have. We live in a world where we’ve gotten used to getting everything right now, this very moment, instant gratification. But that instant gratification is a big culprit for the state of our environment and climate today.
I promise you, it’ll feel much sweeter when you get your hands on an item when a bit of waiting and effort (because waiting takes effort!) has gone into it.
Sustainable fashion is something we’re all aware of; the need for it, the benefits of it, and also the cost of it. I hope this post has brought some clarity to you in terms of why and how.
I had a ton of questions when I sat down with the PIHKA girls, and the information I got from them was so inspiring that I couldn’t wait to get to share it with y’all. I really hope this post has been useful.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject: would you start making subtle changes towards more sustainable brands or do you prefer to keep buying from fast fashion brands? Why so?
Also, if you have any questions on this subject, please comment below or e-mail me and I will be very happy to find the answer for you. There are no stupid questions, and since we all know relatively little about where from and how our clothes become to be, here’s your chance to learn more on the subject.
I’m really proud of this collaboration with PIHKA for the exact reason that it’s a sustainable brand with fabulous aesthetic. Those are my blog’s core values. You wouldn’t immediately think that these bags are from a sustainable brand, since a lot of such brands have a bit of a hippie style about them. But the tide is changing!
And in case you share my enthusiasm for great and durable design, the PIHKA girls kindly provided me with a discount code for their classic and charming bags, which I’m happy to share with you lovelies.
Use code TERESA10 for -10% of all PIHKA bags.
The Fashion Revolution starts today and it starts with you and I! ♥
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