Industry Perspectives: Q&A with Caroline Leaper
To kick off Fashion Revolution Week I caught up with London-based writer and Editor Caroline Leaper. I wanted to ask Caroline a bit about her take on the industry at the moment, what’s working, what’s not and the changes she’d like to see going forward.
Caroline and I first met back in September 2011 during London Fashion Week. Caroline has had an exciting career writing for publications such as Marie Claire, InStyle and Vogue. Caroline is now Fashion News and Features Editor at The Telegraph.
Q. Tell me how you first became interested in fashion?
Caroline: I think my interest in fashion came from the television shows and magazines that I watched and read as an eight year old - anything that Sabrina The Teenage Witch was wearing, I would draw my own versions of. My mum has always loved clothes, and making clothes too, so I'm sure it ultimately comes from her, too.
Q. What do you think are the main issues affecting the fashion industry at the moment?
Caroline: There are a lot of big changes happening in the industry right now - it's a pivotal time, which is very exciting to be a part of. Top magazines like Vogue are appointing new editors for the first time in 25 years, some designers and retailers are experimenting with see-now-buy-now models, and are essentially trying to make fashion faster, while others are trying to slow things right down, and focus on making the industry more sustainable. It will be interesting to see which of these two production schedules, if either, ends up 'winning' and becoming the new norm. So far I would say that slow fashion is looking like the frontrunner, as many designers like Tom Ford are backing out of their see-now-buy-now models after just a few seasons.
Q. What do you think brands and consumers can do to play their part in easing these issues?
Caroline: Buy the things you believe in. If you want see-now-buy-now to become the norm then snap up the pieces you like as soon as they hit Instagram. If you want to make purchases that are perhaps more considered, or long-lasting, then spend your money with brands that you know also believe in these values.
Q. Do you think the terms ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ fashion affect buyer behaviour?
Caroline: Yes I think these terms definitely have in the past, but perhaps the stigma is lessening now that consumers are getting used to seeing these words a little more on the high street. Even 5 years ago, if you would say a 'sustainable fashion label', visions of hessian sack dresses would spring to mind. I think everyone knows that the industry has come a long way since then.
Q. Do you think it’s realistic to expect transparency from fashion brands?
Caroline: Absolutely. It shouldn't be this hard for us to find out where our clothes come from, and I'm sick of hearing about brands that claim they didn't know how muddy their supply chain was because they use 'independent' invigilators who had assured them all was fine.
Q. Do you think brands like Paul Smith and Burberry slowing down and producing fewer collections per year could be a move towards a slower fashion industry?
Caroline: Yes, I think a lot of brands are now considering that six or eight womenswear runway shows per year can be less impactful and far more expensive than producing a fewer number of truly great collections. But if people keep buying fashion in huge quantities, then companies will cater to the demand.
Q. Going forward what changes would you like to see in the industry, if any?
Caroline: I would like to see brands telling more of a story about where and how their products have been made, but, ultimately, I hope consumers will make more considered purchases; only buy things if you love them, if you think you'll get plenty of wear out of them and if you really know where it came from.
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The Laura Ironside EDIT-01 collection is made sensitively and sustainably in the UK - to have a look at the collection click here.