Prince Charles, Britain’s heir-to-throne, has a woolly idea or two about how vintage clothes, recycling and the fashion industry can help protect the planet.
In an article in the September edition of fashion magazine Vogue, he writes that wearing wool, “upcycling” clothes and other items for use in your wardrobe and elsewhere are the kinds of things the global fashion industry should be promoting.
“Fashion clearly makes people feel good, but now it has to do the world good, too, by contributing to the creation of a virtuous circle, with nature protected at the center,” Charles said in the article.
The 61-year-old prince tells readers in a self-deprecating manner about his own sartorial style, efforts to persuade consumers to wear wool rather than man-made fabrics and repairing or reusing things as old as the leather from an 18th century wreck made into a pair of shoes for him.
“I have a passion for reusing things and repairing them (think of all the new small-business opportunities this presents),” Charles writes. “On the whole, the older some things are, the more comfortable and familiar they become; they can even be adapted to look new in a different context.”
He said that vintage outfits are seen on red carpets all over the world, setting a trend that others follow, and that second-hand shops which “upcycle” (take old clothes and refashion them with a modern twist) have become hugely popular.
“This is a perfect example of why I believe fashion has a role to play in helping to confront some of the environmental challenges we face,” Charles wrote. “For this trend is not only about an attraction for retro design and the charm of the old, it is very much about the future.”
The prince said vintage clothes and upcycling are a good starting place for the fashion industry and consumers to get behind because they save scarce resources and avoid waste.
“The great strength of the fashion world is that it knows how to make new ideas attractive and to do so rapidly and on a grand scale — something that is essential if collective action is to have a genuine impact on the problems we face.”
He said an excellent example of this is the use of wool for clothing. It is natural and renewable, it has a far smaller environmental footprint and is far less flammable than man-made fibers, and it is fully recyclable.
“I have already started promoting the rediscovery and reuse of wool and will, later this year, be launching a campaign for wool in partnership with designers and retailers to try to persuade people that this natural fiber is infinitely more “sustainable” than artificial fibers made from oil derivatives.”
The prince signed off with an invitation to his Clarence House home in London to see some of the results of his new project called “Start.”
“…if by chance you find yourself in London this September, when we are opening up the gardens of Clarence House for a 12-day sustainability festival complete with a fashion show, please come and see the modest beginning that we are working on here.”