Prince Charles makes headlines for many reasons but his fashion sense is not usually one of them. However, the heir to the British throne’s passion for sustainability is well known, and he has recently been reflecting on how that influences his style.
The Prince of Wales chatted with editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, about traditional skills in the British textile industry and creating more sustainable fashion. During the discussion he joked that the way he dresses was “like a stopped clock” but added that he likes to find “brilliant makers” as well as get items repaired rather than throw them away.
When praised by Enninful on the way he dresses and asked where his style comes from, Charles replied: “I thought I was like a stopped clock – I’m right twice every 24 hours. But…I’m very glad you think it has style. I mind about detail and colour combinations. I’m lucky because I can find marvellous people who are brilliant makers of the things that I appreciate, and because of that, I try to keep them going for longer.”
The Prince also spoke about his attitude when it comes to looking after his favorite clothes. “I happen to be one of those people who’d get shoes – or any item of clothing – repaired if I can, rather than just throw it away,” he said. “And that’s why I think, from an economic point of view, there are huge opportunities for people to set up small businesses involved with repair, maintenance and reuse.” Indeed, as T&C has previously reported, Charles’s philosophy is evident in the two overcoats he has worn repeatedly since the 1980s.
The Prince was taking part in the discussion with Enninful as students on a project he has co-founded, the Modern Artisan, are about to launch a fashion collection with sustainability at its core. It has been created in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation which supports people working to improve their communities. The Foundation also looks after Dumfries House, a stately home in Ayrshire, Scotland which Prince Charles restored from 2007.
During his chat with Enninful, the Prince recalled childhood memories in Scotland, where he attended Gordonstoun school in Moray and spent time at the royal family’s Aberdeenshire retreat Balmoral Castle. “When I was a child, we used to take our shoes down to the cobbler in Scotland and would watch with fascination as he ripped the soles off and then put new soles on,” Charles said.
Enninful also about the importance of promoting Britain’s fashion and textile skills, to which the Prince replied: “The British fashion textile sector is of enormous importance. But the trouble is, it requires constant investment in young people and in the development of real skills…But it seems to me there are huge opportunities, particularly now, within the whole sustainable fashion sector, to counter this extraordinary trend of throw-away clothing – or throwaway everything, frankly.”
Charles also admitted that he had high standards for the companies who are awarded a coveted royal warrant from him. “Thirty years or so ago, I decided to look at those companies that apply for my warrant, where they put 'By Appointment To' up outside their shop with a coat of arms. And I said, ‘You’re not going to get my warrant anymore unless you conform to the following – in those days, pretty basic – environmental requirements,’” the Prince said. “And there were howls of protest and anguish and gnashing of teeth and they all said, 'It’ll ruin our businesses.' I said, 'Sorry, we have to do it.' So of course, they went away, looked at their supply chains, looked at the way they did things. Lo and behold, they came back and said, 'Well, actually, it’s saved us money to do it in a better way.'”
The December issue of British Vogue, available via digital download and on newsstands Friday November 6.
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