If you’ve been with me for a while, you may remember that I used to write a lot about fashion. When I started i am not a celebrity in 2010, it seemed like an easy fit. I’d just moved back to London from Dubai, where I’d freelanced for the likes of Time Out, Grazia, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar. In the UK, however, I had no contacts. I kept getting rejected (at best), ignored (at worst) or having promising meetings with editors of glossy magazines only to discover my feature ideas written by others in following issues (at the very worst). They had no idea who I was (or didn’t have the budget). A friend suggested that I started a blog, so I did.
I’ve always specialised in writing about travel, food and fashion, but since I was planning on staying put for a while and didn’t yet have a permanent home with a decent kitchen, fashion is where I began. At first, I loved it. London is an amazing city to be in when it comes to style. Not long after my first few posts, I began landing commissions and meeting other writers and bloggers. It was a smallish set back then and the opportunities afforded to us were breathtaking. I met countless amazing people, made the most of behind-the-scenes access and fell in love with the theatre of it all.
And then things began to change. It started with a few small niggles – a foodie blogger and friend deleted me off his blogroll because he hated what the fashion industry was doing to the environment and how it exploited human rights. I couldn’t deny that this was the case, but I liked to think that I wasn’t responsible. I’m not a shopper – in fact, I hate shopping – and I’ve always steered clear of fast fashion chains. When it comes to clothes, I look for intelligent design, excellent craftsmanship and ethical production. Beautiful clothes are pieces of art in themselves that allow the wearer to express their personality, no matter what you might think.
But, who was I kidding? While I tried to live by my own value system in my personal life, I was selling my soul in my professional life for a by-line writing about celebrities and what they were wearing. Nothing, not even the money and kudos that came from working for a renowned online publication, made me feel good about myself. It didn’t help that my inbox was inundated with the next best frivolous trend or that the time between fashion months seemed to get smaller and smaller. I know that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that does a lot of good too, but I couldn’t get my head around this unadulterated creation of want, not need. I’d lost sight of the beauty and the freedom that sartorial expression brings.
So, I escaped. Literally. I gave up the work and decided to focus on food and travel – spending the recent past gallivanting around the world and filling my belly. I honestly love it, but every now and then I miss the old me and the bits and pieces that used to get me so excited are slowly bubbling to the surface. I’m starting to feel more confident about letting them back into my life (personal and professional) – and onto my blog. It’s about balance, staying true to myself and caring about where I place my allegiance.
Eileen Fisher, as a result of their strong beliefs in sustainability and ethical manufacturing, is one brand for which my admiration never wavered – and it’s for them and Fashion Revolution Day (FRD) that I’m making this rare appearance on the blog. A year ago tomorrow, 1133 people were killed when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. To mark the day and to raise awareness, Eileen Fisher has partnered with FRD to ask one simple question: Who Makes Your Clothes? Tomorrow, I’ll be turning my Eileen Fisher denim shirt #InsideOut in support of the movement. I’ll also be attending a event at the Eileen Fisher store in Covent Garden, where there’ll be a special viewing of the short film Handprint. If you’d like to come along – wearing your clothes #InsideOut of course – the invitation is below.
In the above photos, I’m wearing Eileen Fisher’s classic collar shirt in Tencel cotton denim. Tencel is a sustainable fibre harvested from eucalyptus trees. It’s processed in a closed loop, recycling 99.5% of water and solvents.
© Kate McAuley 2014