Megan Harvey, MA Fashion Realisation and Innovation student, talks about the global impact of fast fashion.
We live in a culture of disposable clothing. We buy a cheap t-shirt on the high street, wear it a couple of times and then leave it in a heap at the bottom of our wardrobe. Eventually, it might be donated to a charity shop, but more likely it'll end up in the bin.
Megan Harvey wants to change all that. She wants people to make more sustainable choices when it comes to clothing.
What brought the issue of fast fashion to your attention?
“While I was studying as an undergraduate in Fashion at LJMU, I began to understand the number of hours and effort involved in making just one item of clothing. I started to question the current fashion system and I couldn’t comprehend how clothes could be manufactured for the low prices we see on the high street and still make a profit. I started to dig deeper into the industry and quickly discovered that the only way to make clothes as cheaply as this is by exploiting people and the planet.
“I then knew I wanted to go back to university and research the fast fashion industry’s impact in depth and try to figure out how we can change the fashion industry for the better.
“I loved doing my first degree at LJMU, so it felt right to go back for my MA, as I already had a good relationship with the teaching and technical staff.”
You recently took part in the School of Art and Design postgraduate degree show, what was your motivation for your final piece?
“My final piece was basically the product of two years of research into the social and environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry. I created a campaign, which pulled together all the information I gathered and used it to shine a light on the dark side of fashion. My aim is to make people consider the clothes they wear and the real people who made them.”
What was it like to exhibit for the degree show?
“Seeing everyone’s work from across School of Art and Design was such a positive experience. There was a lot of thought-provoking work and a lot of students had dug deep into the big questions of our time, such as climate change or Brexit – it was great to feel a part of that.”
What did you gain by doing the MA?
“I studied the MA part-time over two years and it’s amazing how far I came in that time. I gained a thorough understanding of my chosen subject, which will be invaluable going forward. I think you get from the MA programme what you put into it. The School of Art and Design has some incredible facilities, as long as you are self-motivated there isn’t much that isn’t possible. It was reassuring to know that the tutors were always there if you needed a chat. The course is also quite flexible. I had the opportunity to go to India as an intern with a slow fashion brand and the University really encouraged me to go, even though it meant I missed a few weeks of tutorials. That was a fantastic experience and I was so pleased that my lecturers were so positive and flexible.”
What are your career plans?
“I run a sustainable living blog which focuses on slow fashion and well as slow living.
“I am collaborating with a few ethical/sustainable brands so I’m excited for what comes out of these projects. I also run a sustainable lifestyle pop-up shop which stocks handmade products from independent makers from around UK. There is a big focus on the people behind the products (just like in my MA project). I’m making some short films soon to tell the stories of the people who make the products I sell. The plan us to carry on as I am! I would like to do a few more pop-up shops and who knows, hopefully, one day I’ll get a real shop of my own! That’s the dream.”
Did you know?
- By 2030 global clothing consumption is projected to rise by 63%, from 62 million tons to 102 million tons, equivalent to more than 500 billion additional t-shirts
- Social media is driving faster fashion and encouraging overconsumption and waste. Research suggests that 17% of young people wouldn’t wear an outfit again if it had been on Instagram
- Over 90% of workers in the global garment industry have no possibility to negotiate
their wages and conditions
- In the UK, it is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill every year
Find out more from Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability report
If you’re interested in making a difference in fashion, take a look at the art and design courses on offer at LJMU.
Looking to be more eco-conscious while at uni? Here are a few ways to do your part for the environment.