Carrying the dedication to the Slow Fashion movement at heart of YU STEPANEL brand, I wanted to talk about the practical side of things, namely, how do you actually live this principle in the era of resource scarcity, climate change and consumerism? One of the approaches is quite inspirational and is based on a simple idea — to practice use. This involves learning to draw satisfaction from resourceful ways of wearing, re-using, sharing and looking after the well familiar items.
The concept of Craft of Use is a result of an international project by fashion, sustainability and ethics researcher, Professor Kate Fletcher, who collected people’s stories of their favourite items of clothing across six countries and three continents – the stories of ethics of use, material resourcefulness and transfer of ownership. Fletcher argues that while items of style are sold as products, they are lived as a process.
Up until now, the fashion system has been lacking a long-term perspective and ignored the connection between the making and use of garments and accessories. The idea that it is normal to discard rather than repair has become standard among us as consumers (and it is so true — some of my London friends do not know how to saw on a button!) This is why understanding how items of style are worn and cared for during their lifetime is key for a more sustainable fashion future.
The principle of Craft of Use challenges the market-driven overconsumption, reminds us to slow down and shows that pleasure can come from lasting relationships with the things we already have.
We thus want to take on ‘usership’, rather than ownership, — the everyday craft skills of ‘using’ — which the fashion industry overlooks with its focus on creating and buying. In her study, Fletcher suggests fashion in a space where we choose to want what we have, to enjoy the journey of wearing. As consumers, we all are fashion practitioners — because we can use what we have with passion and love for the actual process of owning, taking care of and wearing.
Craft of use also reminds us of community, of forging and carrying on real relationships — it is well-known practices of the informal channels through which clothes and accessories travel between friends and family. We want to make things go beyond the act of purchasing — we want to come to appreciating things in greater detail, filling the items we have with warmth, with memories. And the fun of a swap party!
As much as it applies to clothing it does to jewellery — we all have favourite jewellery items, the all-rounders, pieces that go with everything and have saved an outfit on more than one occasion. And it would be a great step forward to a more sustainable future if we applied this vision to more items in our jewellery boxes before we hit yet another ‘Go to checkout’ button.
I know being a brand, an e-commerce platform, it is in my interest to wish to sell more, but as much as it makes me excited when more people join the YU STEPANEL family by purchasing the items they like, my desire has always been to create items of memory, heirlooms that can be enjoyed ten years from now.
This is why all items are made only with noble materials like silver and gold, gems and semi-gemstones, as this, as well as human hand and craftsmanship, is what creates a piece that stands the test of time with lasting quality and style: I want you to want to wear the YU STEPANEL pieces years from now, I want you to be able to give a new life to your favourite item by passing it on to a loved one.
To help you enjoy your favourite YU STEPANEL pieces longer I have put together an essential jewellery care guide, hope you find it useful!