It’s a summer of sparkle, but can sequins be ‘green’ ? | Fashion

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Sequins, like dogs, are not just for Christmas. The essential element of festive dressing has jumped season this year to put the sparkle into summer. But not everyone is happy to see plastic making a comeback just as the fashion industry is trying to become more sustainable.

“I love a sparkly dress, but covering a dress in plastic cannot be justified if its worn once and discarded,” says Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, which campaigns to stop plastic pollution. “It needs to be a wardrobe staple.”

This summer sequins have been everywhere, from the catwalk to the TV screen. In the recent Love Island finale, two of the four female finalists opted for sequin dresses. In July actor Danielle Brooks wore a floor-length sequin dress and a sequin jacket to the season seven premiere of Orange is the New Black. The big screen is also sparkling: in the film Animals, released last month, the actor Alia Shawkat appears in an impressive sequin jumpsuit – a look mirrored by her co-star Holliday Grainger at the film’s premiere in May.

Sparkles have not just dazzled on the red carpet, but have been prominent on the UK’s streets and fields with rainbow sequins a core feature of June’s LGBT Pride month and a highlight of music festivals. Online fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing’s festival edit includes sequins on dresses, halter tops and bralettes, while Asos currently stocks nearly 1,500 items which pertain to the search term “sequin”. The high street is also cashing in: at Zara, bags and dresses sparkle.

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Sparkling looks at the Ashish and Alexa Chung LFW shows sandwich actor Danielle Brooks at the final season premiere of Orange Is The New Black in New York.



Sparkling looks at the Ashish and Alexa Chung LFW shows sandwich actor Danielle Brooks at the final season premiere of
Orange Is The New Black in New York
. Composite: REX/Getty Images

On the catwalk, sequins featured in spring/summer 2019 collections from Alexa Chung and Ashish. Gucci campaign star Harry Styles told Dazed last week: “Just going on stage in a nuts suit with a bunch of sequins makes you feel good, and then you want to play.”

But environmentalists warn consumers not to be too dazzled by sequins, which are often made from PVC and can be used in huge numbers – sometimes more than 200,000 on one garment – until recycled and biodegradable options become more available. “I’ve had more and more interest from fashion companies keen to reduce their environmental impact,” says Rachel Clowes, founder of the Sustainable Sequin Company, which makes sequins from recycled PET and is working on biodegradable versions. “Some designers are also looking to increase the value attributed to sequins, and getting bespoke designs cut. The future can be sustainable and sparkling.”



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