Given the last number of years, it’s fair to say sustainability has become embedded into the cultural zeitgeist, finally. It’s practice though is still shrouded in mystery as advocates face constant pressure from the ever powerful fast-fashion industry, bulldozing ads at you quicker than the next ecological disaster has time to make you think. This Earth Day, we catch up with Attention Attire, a sustainable outwear brand made here in Ireland, created as a response to Irish festival campsite waste.
Circular fashion has seen a comeback in recent years, charity clothes shopping is the norm and shopping second-hand on apps like Depop are almost fashionable. Upcycling and swap shops are becoming more frequent within our social circles too. Things are changing at pace, but is it quick enough?
Recent news of our quickly accelerating climate crisis after an eventful COP26 seemed to quickly become diluted. As we continue to face uncertainty in the face of our environment we can hopefully take solace by taking control of what we can, and that of course is, what we buy, and how we choose to live.
Megan Best has worked in festivals for more than 15 years, bringing her business and logistical experience built up first hand by seeing the waste accumulate year on year. “I couldn’t stand looking at the waste that was left over. With everything going on in the world, it felt so wrong. We got a bunch of mates together after Electric Picnic one year and filled two vans which we brought over to the refugee camp in Calais.”
Debroah Tormey brings her creative knowhow to the partnership, having studied fashion in NCAD. “I really wanted to peel away from the fast fashion industry as it’s really negative and toxic. Similar to Megan, I was in shock leaving festivals like Oxegen seeing the amount of waste so I ended up salvaging bags of stuff and making my own bits. Megan approached me shortly after and we decided there’s definitely something here, so we set up the business.”
The creative partnership is built on years of experience and passion for change. Megan’s experience in the back-end of festivals has given her the chance to see the issues first hand: “Implementing a workable plan from the outset is key. Overall there’s a design issue, previously they (festival sites) have been designed to accommodate people in a basic way, but changing the format, getting festival goers to be proud of their area can help. A festival called Roskilde in Denmark has done it well by breaking up the campsite to various neighbourhoods, giving each area accountability. One of the real battles is the cost of tents, it’s just so low that it makes them seem disposable. Some are sold as single use tents, which doesn’t help.”
Each garment sold at Attention Attire is created from a unique design using salvaged material. Not only are you buying something sustainable and bespoke, it’s fun to wear! Debbs speaks about her inspiration: “Something that has numerous ways of wearing it, that’s fun but functional, is style to me. Streetwear that’s futuristic and ravey. While we were creating our first line, I learned about the first mother in space, Anna Lee Fisher, so we named our line after empowering females which nods to what part of our mission is.”
Their mantra of #wastetowear rings true, no textile can be considered wasteful in their eyes. The relationship we have towards textiles is what needs to change. Megan explains what this can look like: “We had one customer who had a tent that went to every festival with her, she called it the Techno Spaceship tent [haha] and when it was coming to the end of it’s life as a tent, she brought the material to us and we made it into a dress! She absolutely loved it as she’d built up an attachment having had so much experience with it. Don’t throw out your textiles!”
From a bigger picture perspective, what can your average household do? Debbs chats through some exciting plans ahead: We’ve always been about encouraging people to think sustainably and we’re seeing a paradigm shift happening. We hope to see a big change in how people use textiles. We’re currently part of Community Reuse Network Ireland which is funded by the EPAA, it’s a working group looking at how to recycle household textiles. We’re researching the benefits of a separate textile bin which would mean a new recycling stream for textiles in Ireland. It’s all in the early stages but watch this space!
Check out Attention Attire’s line of clothing here. Support their cause by following them here and don’t forget you can donate your textiles. Think about your contribution towards sustainability when shopping and attending festivals this year and every year.