The Wardrobe To Die For | Lucy Siegle | TEDxSalford
The Wardrobe To Die For | Lucy Siegle | TEDxSalford

Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo — such a broad spectrum of opinion here, and you know all about
things like quantum physics and tech, and stuff like that,
I’m not speaking to a normal crowd of fashionistas — I don’t know,
maybe some of you are fashionistas — but I talk to you and
I do fashion by numbers. I’m saying fashion by numbers,
not the numbers, which I think
is more grammatically correct. Now, I’m going to talk to you about
fashion by numbers, because I love fashion
and I love style, and I think there’s lots
of really absorbing things about the industry and about the idea
of expressing ourselves through clothes, but there are also some issues,
which we will get to in a minute, and I think some of the numbers are just
gigantic and they’re quite illuminating. So, the first statistic,
when I was doing a lot of research on the contemporary fashion industry,
was one that I had to estimate by putting together
lots of different research. And I figured out that there are
about 80 billion new garments that are created every year. Some of you, like me, might feel that
most of those end up in your wardrobe, it depends how avaricious
a buyer you are. Some people might feel
that they all end up in your laundry basket,
which I also feel, having to do my family’s laundry. So, that’s an estimated number
of new garments produced worldwide every year. Now the weird thing is
that we still end up with 2 million tonnes of textiles,
mainly apparel, in landfill every year. So, we’re slinging them away
almost as quickly as we can buy them. Which points to a certain disposability, a certain throwaway culture,
in fashion. 19 is the number of jeans
that I found in my own wardrobe, when I did an inventory of my wardrobe. And I would recommend to anybody
that you do an inventory of your wardrobe, because it’s
really, really illuminating. even if you think that
you’re not a fashion addict, you’re not a fashion victim, you will be surprised at
how many duplicates you have. So, I have 19 pairs of jeans
and that’s significant because — not because 19
is my lucky number, but it is, that’s not why I bought them — I didn’t realize I had 19, because I
just kept consuming without realizing, and when I thought about it,
the environmental footprint of fashion is absolutely enormous. So, for example, it takes between
11,000 and 20,000 litres of water to produce enough cotton
for a single pair of jeans. And then I started to look at
the impact of fashion generally. Now, fashion is a full spectrum industry, and with the exception
of the food industry, and perhaps the energy industry,
it’s hard to think of any other sector that owes quite as much
to the planet as fashion does. We’re all a nation of fashion addicts,
that’s how we’ve become, and that’s been enabled really
over the last twenty years by a phenomenon known as fast fashion. Now, sometimes,
it’s quite difficult to imagine how people got dressed 20 years ago, before fast fashion really kicked in,
but we know they did, but did they all just wear
the same pair of Dralon flares? How did they actually manage it? Because what we’ve done is
we’ve developed a whole new system of getting dressed,
which revolves around very, very quick microtrends
that can very quickly translate from the catwalk into our wardrobes
and onto the high street. And the UK is
one of the world leaders in this trend. We have some of the biggest retailers,
some of the biggest brands, and it has to be said,
that we interpret fast fashion quite successfully. So, we think about how fashion
actually presents itself. What it doesn’t really do, is tell you how much it’s changed
over the last 20 years. So, there will be people here
who’ve never known anything else. Lucky them, because
they’re nice and young, but, there has been
a completely revolutionized system to the way apparel
is produced and sold. But we really don’t get this idea
from the fashion weeks that we have. It presents a very traditional face.
So, we have the two seasons, we have autumn/winter
and spring/summer, and then these are when we trickle
things down from the catwalk into store, and they set the trend
of what we’re going to be wearing. In actual fact, those seasons
have got as much in common with the contemporary fashion industry as Gregorian plainsong has with the
contemporary music industry. Absolutely nothing to do with it. What really happens
is that we’re now looking at, rather than two or four seasons a year,
we’re really looking at 52 seasons a year. Every week there are new styles,
there is new stock in shops, new stock online, and it’s become
a very, very quick process. Some people would call it a churn. Now, when I look at the bright young hopes
of British fashion, and we see these brilliant designers
have got something. Up here we’ve got Alice Temperley,
we’ve got Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilincic. So, these are great names,
great hopes for the future. And then we hear about the people who basically succeed
to the big luxury conglomerates and take over those brands. And these are big, big names,
going out there into this multi-billion pound sector and representing British style.
But often I think, ‘Will they be OK?’
Because, actually, it’s not just fast fashion or high street fashion
that’s become super fast, but also the luxury industry. This is the way
that we really, really shop; we shop in a mob, we shop in bulk
and we buy very cheap. Now, one of the things
I really like to do is to hang around outside shops,
maybe not as crowded as this, and actually go through people’s bags,
with their consent, as they come out — I do ask first —
and it’s amazing how many people buy in bulk
and buy duplicates these days. And one of my favourite observations, although it does not say
particularly good things, is that a colleague of mine was watching
outside Primark one day, or just kind of loitering nearby, and a girl came out
with four of these bags. Now, it could have happened
in lots of different stores, but Primark use these paper bags,
and it was raining, it was really, really raining,
the bag got completely soaked, while she was waiting for a bus,
or whatever, and it fell apart. And she just left these clothes,
these brand new clothes, she just left them on the pavement
and walked off. Now, my contention is that if we produce,
if we design for landfill, if we produce clothes that are
effectively disposable, we will all start to treat them
like litter. Now, I’m not saying that this also
happens for luxury goods, because I think if you’re spending
a grand on a handbag, you’re probably going to be
a little bit more careful, but the same cycle and the same churn is starting to happen
throughout the fashion landscape. So, effectively,
these designers that we saw, those shiny-faced, hopeful, big prospects
of British fashion and all round the world in fact,
actually are in a similar churn. So, they’re not just doing
the autumn/winter, the spring/summer, they’re also having to work
on pre-fall/fall collections, resort-wear, yacht-wear, getting on a yacht, getting off a yacht,
post-yacht, pre-yacht, who are all these people
that they are designing for? Who has all these yachts? (Laughter) So, let’s just unravel fast fashion
just a little bit. So, there are some very good points
about fast fashion by the way. First of all, it breeds life into
a rather stagnant British high street. Those of you who are
old enough to remember will remember there was
a certain lack of choice, a certain sort of look
that the high street had, maybe 20-25 years ago, which wasn’t
that appealing, wasn’t that aspirational. So, the high street brands
have really democratized style, you’re able to get hold of it. I remember moving to London
and coming back to the North West, and people used to come up to me and say,
‘Oh, did you get that in London?’ I mean that doesn’t happen now,
it happens in the reverse. You know, that’s how democratize
style has become. So, 814 million garments a year, this is also an estimate, are produced
by Zara/Inditex, the Spanish brand. That’s a lot of clothes. And they have 45,000 designs,
so their designers are constantly coming up with trends,
every single year. Not all of those will get into store,
but a large proportion of them will, which shows you where this engine
is coming from, all these micro-trends. When Zara started in the UK,
nobody understood it, because you’d go in there,
and the consumer would say, ‘Well, this is nice,
maybe a little bit expensive.’ And then they’ll say,
‘I’ll think about it, I’ll come back.’ They’ll come back
and it wouldn’t be there, because shops these days don’t re-stock,
they don’t need to, because they’ve moved
on to the next trend. If you blink, you miss it. Number 3 — I’m still doing
the fashion in numbers thing. This is the position of Amancio Ortega
who owns Zara, on the international rich list.
He’s the 3rd richest man in the world. There’s a lot of money
in this fast fashion business. Here’s Philip Green, maybe this is where
all the resort yacht wear is going to, because he has a yacht. And this is the little picture
of a village, somewhere in England, a whole village, that has been bought
by Stefan Persson, who is the CEO of H&M. So, that gives you some idea of the riches
that we’re talking about. I mention that, not because it’s illegal
to make money, because it’s not, but just to show you
a little bit of disparity, because who is the real engine
of this fashion churn, this fashion cycle? It happens in Bangladesh. It happens in other countries too,
but Bangladesh, 80% of the GDP is constituted by
the ready-made garment industry, and that’s the equivalent of $20 billion. So, when we talk
about problems there, it is not feasible for companies to cut
and run, because, as you can see, that economy is dependent on this trade. Now, I put this in, because there was
a recent power list of fashion, and I counted 4 muses in the top 30. Now, I’m not really sure
what a muse does, but there were four muses and there was
no mention of the people that actually make the clothes, which I thought was
really, really interesting, and I think this really shines a light
on a problem in the whole industry. So, there’s 101 processes
to making a garment. Just 6 to 8 of those are done
in factories like the ones in Bangladesh. And these are basically
what the cut, make and trim army do. And by conservative estimate,
there’s 3 million, mainly young women, who work in this cut, make and trim army, and these are the core part
of the supply chain, when they’re actually
putting the piece together. These are vast factories,
vast, vast production lines. Now, 48.5 seconds is the time
that it’s estimated it should take one of the people on this production stage
to actually sew a seam. It’s relentless, relentless work.
This is a quote from Ali Hewson, who set up the EDUN brand,
‘We carry the story of the people who make our clothes around with us.’ And we do,
but we don’t acknowledge it, which is why I showed
that picture of the muse and I point to that power list. These are the unseen, the hidden people
in the supply chain. 5,600 — that’s the number
of garment factories that Bangladesh has,
mainly centred around Dhaka. At last count,
when this report came out, there were less than 200 inspectors — I think that should be fewer,
but I’m just being pedantic. Now, in 1911 we have the biggest tragedy
in the garment sector to date. And that was the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire; and that was
in New York’s garment district. 146 people died in 18 minutes,
and this was the worst disaster that we’d ever seen in this sector. And that prompted,
not a revolution, but a lot of picketing,
a big labour movement, and it’s still acknowledged. Every year on the anniversary, people will go and acknowledge,
the trade unions will acknowledge, that that disaster happened. And what really struck me was
that we never acknowledge. There were lots and lots of factory deaths
and fire deaths and stampedes in factories, lots of fatalities,
that were happening in the supply chain. Probably one or two a month
that we learn about through our era, and we never really said
anything about it. But this number, we can’t really
make it go away, and we can’t ignore. This is 1,133 — which is the number
of people who died on the 24th April at Rana Plaza. Rana Plaza basically collapsed like
a house of cards. There were 2,000 people working in it,
it was a mixed-use complex, but, it was the garment workers that died, because the garment workers were
the only workers that were sent back in, and unfortunately that is a common story,
the garment workers are always in there. These images are probably not unfamiliar,
because they were broadcast around the world, and, for the first time,
we had news agencies actually interviewing
these garment workers, and actually getting their testimonies. The difference was that
they were actually under rubble. So, they’re the statistics, well,
the bold statistics, 2,500 injured, 700 children left, and the Rana Plaza battle
for compensation continues. But it did make a stink. Who makes
our clothes? Where do they come from? It’s not the only thing
in the supply chain. This is just about
Uzbekistan’s cotton industry; 1.5 million children, who are alleged
to be involved in the harvest. And this happens every year. They’re sent out into the fields
around September time, and they will pick the harvest, which is
then sold in the international market. And this is Gulnara,
this is the dictator’s daughter, and I put this in,
because this is her at fashion week showing her own collection. So, you see this terrible dichotomy, of how we’re hiding this kind
of slave labour in the fashion industry. Can we do it better?
Yes, we can. Now, I think
the whole sustainable style movement has been slightly typified, and held back,
because people fear tie-dye. They fear that we’re going to have to wear this kind of
knit-your-own tofu hat aesthetic, and they’re really, really not up for it. So, what I did was get together
with some friends, and we launched something,
we didn’t call it granola chic, we called it the Green Carpet Challenge. Now, we’re just trying
to play around with some ideas. I love this. This is a photograph
by a seminal fashion photographer called Lillian Bassman. And she didn’t mean anything
sustainable when she did it, but I love the idea of
more fashion mileage per dress. So, here’s another figure I’d love you
to remember, which is 30. Don’t buy anything unless
you can guarantee to yourself that you’re going to wear it 30 times.
That’s a really good marker. So, we started the Green Carpet Challenge, and we charged designers with
making us something sustainable. This is an Armani dress. And 40, that’s the number of A-Listers
that we’ve sent down red carpets from the Oscars, to the Globes,
to the whatever all in these sustainable outfits. We wanted to prove
to the fashion industry, to the editors, to everybody watching,
that it could be done, and it could be desirable. There’s more of them. And we wanted to work
in the supply chain, so, we started looking at things
like the leather chain. 11 billion pairs of shoes
are made every year. 60% of the leather goes to shoes. Now, when you see a shoe
and it says made in Italy, you think, ‘OK, great.’
And then you ask the people in the shop, and they say,
‘Yeah, the leather’s Italian.’ It can’t be, because if it were, the whole
of Italy would be covered in cows. There’d be cows round the Trevi Fountain,
it can’t be. No, they’re often from Brazil or China, and in Brazil,
deforestation is being driven by the meat and leather industry. So, we wanted to make a market
for clean leather. Leather that we could prove
was zero deforestation. So, we went to Gucci,
who came up with this little bag, and I don’t think
this looks sustainable at all. It’s not made of hemp,
it’s not very granola, it just looks like a bag. 100+ companies have now signed
the Bangladesh Fire Safety Accord. Now, I’m not going to explain why,
because I’m running out of time, but it is, I think,
a very, very important marker, and I think, given time, it could make
a real, real difference. What I would urge you to do
is keep an eye, just keep abreast
of what’s happening in fashion, and where you buy and who signed what;
it’s really, really important. 2p, add that onto a £6 T-shirt, that would double the wages
of a garment worker in Bangladesh. Now, I think that’s a cost
that we can probably absorb. 24th April, that’s the other date
I want you to remember. 24, remember that number,
it’s the anniversary of Rana Plaza,
and it’s Fashion Revolution Day. Thank you. (Applause)

44 thoughts on “The Wardrobe To Die For | Lucy Siegle | TEDxSalford”

  1. pomminnie says:

    more people need to watch this video so that the world makes more sense…how confusing and vain the world has become in the name of fashion and style…

  2. 10's Kingdom Organics says:

    She sO passionate
    Excellent talk, God
    bless her. …Peace…

  3. Kiều Anh Nguyễn says:

    the theme is stranger

  4. Inbar Shahak says:

    love your idea about fashion roots and traveling way

  5. Tika Laxmi Limbu says:


  6. Lee says:

    Excellent presentation. The 30 wears per item idea is also really excellent – I'll pass that on.

  7. fati falls says:

    I loved that she spoke about fast fashion!!💕 alternatives to high street shops: thrift stores, borrowing, charity shops and keeping good quality clothes for a loooong time <3 xo

  8. moneymagnetelizabeth says:

    I am starting to make my own clothes If people made their own clothes then there would be more appreciation and open up yourself to trading with each other even garments.

  9. Surina Nash says:

    Very informative! Thank you! Excellent talk!!!

  10. Inês says:

    thank YOU! we need education and a we're going off for a total change in our system. there's enough clothes at secondhand shops to dress the entire world. each one of us can lead and be the change. 💙

  11. lemsip says:

    It would be better if Primark would give out simple paper bags instead of thick paper carrier bags because then the customer would remember to bring a shopping tote or back pack with them when shopping to put their purchases in that was automatically issued. When I buy clothes now I used to get a free thick plastic carrier bag but now there is a charge on them. I have a bag with me so don't buy the plastic carrier bag but the item of clothing is loose inside my bag and could get contaminated with whatever is in there. I wouldn't mind a thin paper bag given out with the item of clothing.

  12. Nathaniel Offer says:

    19 pairs of jeans? I don't own 19 items between collars shirts and trousers. Gotta love how she talks like the whole world has no clue what they own and we all follow the fashion "micro trends" Some of us live in the real world.

  13. Cruelty Free Sara says:

    That was excellent! So moving. Thank you Lucy. 😭✌🏻

  14. K Reuter says:

    looks and sounds like greed to me. Thanks for the excellent information on numbers. We need sustainable for sure.

  15. R&S DeBonneville says:

    How about considering to by second hand clothing next time you need a new clothing item..why contribute to more production when we are drowning in the amounts of clothing that has already been produced ..lets all use that up first before we buy new

  16. Linda Tisue says:

    I just found 20 kg of new clothes, tags attached, in the burn bin at my apartment. There is a charity box 20 meters from the burn bin.

  17. Nini K says:

    19 pair of jeans, are your for real.

  18. Holly Wood says:

    I hate the constant sound of saliva in the background of this video

  19. K M says:

    Love Lucy Siegle !

  20. Zhou Ling LI says:

    I didn't realize the fashion industry, where a select few are making millions out of ignorance of buyers and slave labour of workers was so incredibly and potentially catastrophically unsustainable. I wonder how many clothes the fashion CEOs actually own? Are they also gullible enough to be tricked in to buying for the '52 different seasons'? How stupid is 21st century society? Through 'progress' we have ensured our living habits are unsustainable to our existence and as we foul up the earth with unused or partially used throwaway fashion items we have entrapped fellow humans by keeping them in poverty, to support our laziness and want for unsustainable living. What I don't get is those making so much money out of this (who have the most power to improve the situation), are actively encouraging society to defecate in it's own nest. Then they are likely to be the first to complain of the mindless and extravagant throwaway attitude that has been marketed heavily on to society has fouled their environment. There needs to be more education and this video is a great start.

  21. Janet Duignan says:

    There is no 'fashion' any more because the trends change so fast that any historian of fashion would find it hard to say exactly what people wear now. Apart from jeans, that is.

  22. Janet Duignan says:

    Wear something 30 times? I've been wearing some clothes for 30 years!

  23. Patti Phillips says:

    I regularly do "clothing swaps" at my home with my girlfriends. We all bring things over that we don't wear, and all go home with new garments that we can enjoy- all for no $$$!

  24. peneleapai says:

    How I would love to have/see dress-making in every school… for both boys and girls… Upcycling for the youngest perhaps, and building on principle and skills learnt since then.. An inspiring and stirring talk, Thank you so much.
    Love her cowl neck top too (had me searching for a fair trade one afterward!) 🌀

  25. Chris Singleheart says:

    "Thank You" to Lucy for starting The Green Carpet Challenge and for everything she does to respect garment workers!

  26. Abood Khaled says:

    people dont look at u, they look at what u wear, our clothes become our identity, I hate the idea that our clothes is what defines us, we should stop judging people according to their clothes, stop spending money and time in clothes, we should believe that less is more, and follow the 10 items wardrobe method, dont make what u wear the most expensive thing about u.

  27. Elly May says:

    Call those wings home luv its distracting.. what you talked about THEN is not happening NOW .. so??

  28. normal woman says:

    Those poor people. Shame on the Big fashion industry and the whores who run it.

  29. K Catfish says:

    It's about time we got rid of fast fashion and the industry and this lady give their head a shake. Wear it 30 times?? If consumers did not demanded things to be cheaply made they would last longer. People would have several key outfits not this consumerism overloaded wardrobe trend. There is nothing wrong with tofu, hippy fashion or second hand. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones and get your own individual style.

  30. Ana Hewett says:

    Excellent presentation, great that she mentioned the forgotten in this industry. It can be changed. We need to be more compassionate towards people and our planet.

  31. Heidi Schumacher says:

    Ice been making patchwork clothing for years. You can search Etsy for Upcycled items. Broken Ghost Couture makes lovely stuff

  32. andrei-stefan nedelcu says:

    Did the inventory and found this lady must be a hoarder.

  33. dandylion says:

    Sht stain euroid europeans getting rich off other peoples resources and labor, same as it ever was. The white man is the sht stain on all humanity.

  34. Nazmus Sadat says:

    I agree

  35. Into The Eco says:

    So much love for the work Lucy does in raising awareness about the dark side of the garment industry. So sad the Rana Plaza happened. So mad that people have to die for our clothes, that we wear once then throw away anyways. Where is the justice?

  36. SJ B says:

    i own 1 jeans, 1 hiking pants, 2 work pants…my shirt situation is similar. if a piece breaks and im not able to repair it, then i replace it. so i also have less laundry than ppl with a lot of clothes. i don't think i could handle closets full of clothes and all that stuff…

  37. Joey Levenson says:

    Ali Hewson is Bono's wife.

  38. Ol' Soul Ana says:

    Thank you for this.

  39. 별장 says:

    where can I get the exact subtitle??

  40. meganverne says:

    this is the first ted talk that I've watched that I didn't enjoy watching. she was all over the place and it doesnt seem like she was practiced so I kind of lost her point because of that

  41. Jacksonifyer says:


  42. ABC ABC says:

    ‘Who has all these yachts’ 😂correct! Great talk

  43. Stella Starry says:

    EVERYONE should watch this…especially these 'new instagram models"…

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