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Fast Fashion is Destroying our Planet - Time for Sustainable Fashion

We must admit, we love a bargain! Following trends can be fun and being able to get more for your money is hard to resist.

With recent news that 100 billion new garments are produced each year and H&M reporting $4.3 billion of unsold clothes, we are only beginning to realize how this industry is impacting our planet. The popularity in fast fashion has made it one of the most polluting industries in the world.

While fast fashion brands are responsible, vloggers (video bloggers) have fuelled this trend in cut price clothing over the last decade by posting videos of shopping expeditions at fast fashion retailers where they may purchase over 20 items of clothing in one session. This is perceived and marketed as great value for money but the popularity of cheap, fast fashion has had devastating impact on the environment. Consumers need to start questioning what is the real cost of those $5 shirts.

A recently released BBC documentary, Fashions Dirty Little Secret, highlights the shocking environmental damage. The Aral Sea was used to irrigate Uzbekistan’s cotton fields and was polluted with toxins, killing sea life. Once the 4th largest lake in the world, there is nothing left but a puddle. In Indonesia people are using water that has been polluted with toxic chemicals to cook, wash and clean. The clothing industry contributes to 10% of global carbon emissions, producing 21 billions tons of waste.


The Aral Sea, 2000                            The Aral Sea, 2014

Is it possible to slow down the fast fashion trend? Can the big brands and investors change their business models? Brands are beginning to become more environmentally conscious but when people are used to a constant supply of new collections can they be happy with just one or two collections a year?

Customers are beginning to realise the environmental impact of their shopping habits but buying slow may end up costing consumers more as brands, producing fewer collections a year, will not be able to develop economies of scale or reduce operating costs.

Some fast fashion retailers, such as H&M and American Eagle Outfitters have introduced a take-back recycling program where customers can bring in their old textile products for recycling. The used clothing may be recycled in many ways such as: going to developing countries for distribution, repurposed as cleaning cloths or insulation, or taken to second hand stores for re-sale.

In order to see significant change amongst fast fashion retailers, a change in consumer mindset is required. The sooner people change their way of thinking about fast fashion the sooner we will see their buying habits shift towards a 'less is more' ideology. Instead of the younger generation taking pride in the excessive amount of clothing they can purchase in one day/month/year and wearing something new each time they go out, they should take pride in buying fewer items in styles that can be worn for years. If vloggers and influencers can make it cool to wear sustainable fashion and uncool to wear disposable fashion we might see a real change in mindset and purchasing patterns and then brands will respond. As designer Vivienne Westwood stated “It’s about quality, not quantity, not landfill”.

Tween Dilemma

Being a tween is great fun but choosing outfits for tweens, on the other hand, is challenging. Not only are tweens learning more about themselves every day but they are also developing a sense of independence: they are beginning to develop their own fashion sense and create a new aspect of individuality which can make styling choices difficult. During these years, tweens go shopping to choose clothing items that they love and feel best represent them. Back when they were younger, they may have had many favourite 'go to' stores, although, you may find that when re-entering these stores with a tween, they do not cater for their age group. This leave tweens and their parents in a frustrating position where they are given limited options: to dress in big bows and fluffy dresses or strappy, tight clothes - Although these fashionable and figure hugging clothes can look great on celebrities such as Kendall and Kylie, we aren't so sure these styles are designed for tweens.

Ideally, when walking into a store, tweens should have a designated section in which they can shop till their hearts content, filling their changing rooms with mounds of cool clothing (which will no doubt be featured in a super cool musical.ly clip). Unfortunately, when walking into most big brand stores tweens are greeted with either a teens or children section. I am not too sure that you would want your tween to be seen wearing the same clothes as an 18 year old on a night out. At the same time you don't want them to stay in a realm of childhood forever, dressing in tiaras, tutus and sparkles. 

As a teen who has recently emerged from being a tween, I know the constant dilemma of trying to find clothes that are fashion forward but also age appropriate. At the same time, I wouldn't want my younger tween sisters to be in the same clothes as me! So, when shopping for tween clothing items, I would personally recommend stores such as Seed, J. Crew, Surlaplage and Hollister as these stores have a cool range of popular tween items. 

Olivia Berti

Hula's graceful gestures

When we think of Hawaii one of the most enduring images is of the colourful hula dancers but the hula is more than just a dance.

The beginnings of the hula remain a mystery but there are many Hawaiian legends that tie the origins of the dance to the goddess Pele or Laka and the hula is therefore considered a sacred dance to Hawaiians.

Usually performed with song or chanting, the hula interprets the words of the song to give meaning in a visual form. The intricacies of hula dancing involve the movement of the hands, eyes, hips and legs but it is the hands that tell the story. Stories of legends were told through this art form and it provided a means of passing down ancient Hawaiian culture. From the 1960's the interpretive dance of the hula evolved into a form of non-traditional tourist entertainment but more recently it has also been considered a contemporary art. 

Requiring harmony, balance and control, every movement, expression and gesture has a specific meaning, from representing nature and the elements to listening, sailing, searching and more. The hula dancer watches their hand movements at all times and not the audience.

The spirit in which you dance is more important than perfection

The graceful hula dance moves can vary from simple to complex steps, including the Kaholo, Ka'o, Hela, 'Uwehe and Ami. The most basic moves include swaying the hips and sidestepping and the hula dancers can use their hands to communicate words or ideas, from ocean waves to palm tree sways. Gestures enhance awareness, spirituality and communication. These are our favourite gestures: 


Ocean Waves

Rising Sun






Here is a video demonstrating the beauty of hula hand gestures. There are some easy to follow videos available on YouTube with basic instructions in the hula dance. A great activity for your tweens!

hula dance


Rash Guard vs Rash Shirt vs Rashie vs Sun Shirt vs Swim Shirt

The protective shirt for swimming/surfing has many aliases. Originally the rash guard was designed to protect surfers chests from surfboard or boogie board rashes but with increasing awareness (of the importance of sun protection) the rash guard evolved into a staple part of one's swimwear wardrobe.

Referred to by a variety of names, depending on which part of the world you are from, there are a few distinguishing features but, most simply, the rash guard is tight fitting and a sun or swim shirt is looser fitting. At Surlaplage we have the 'rash shirt', which is designed to be slim fitting. To make life easier, the Aussies have simplified it and put all sun protective tops under one umbrella. They are affectionately referred to as 'rashies'. If you know of any other names please add them to the comment section below.

Rash Shirt Hamptons California Beach


Sun Protective Swimwear - What is UPF?

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a standard used to measure the effectiveness of sun protective fabrics. This rate indicates how much of the sun's UV radiation is absorbed by the fabric. So if the fabric has a UPF rating of 50, the fabric only allows 1/50th of the sun's UV radiation to pass through the fabric. This means that the fabric will reduce the skins exposure to radiation by 50 times, which is equivalent to approximately 98% UV block. The big advantage of UPF over SPF (which is a standard measure to indicate how much time a person can be exposed to the sun before getting burned) is that the UPF standard measures protection from both UVA and UVB rays. 

Exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays increases cancer risk and the Skin Cancer Foundation has noted that "suffering one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a persons chances of developing potentially deadly melanoma later in life". For more information please see this link.

It is important to remember that the fabric only provides protection for areas of the body that are covered. You should always remember to apply sunscreen to areas of the skin that remain exposed.

For the safety of your children's skin, Surlaplage swimwear fabrics are independently tested to ensure they provide UPF 50. 


Sun Protection

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