Long-time champion of recycling suggested that it may be time to return to traditional tailoring methods
She is known for her thrifty, no-nonsense approach to fashion.
The Princess Royal, 73, a long-time champion of recycling whenever possible, sported a pair of sunglasses in Sri Lanka this week that she has had for more than a decade.
And in an interview marking the end of her three-day visit, she spoke out against fast fashion, suggesting that it may be time to return to traditional tailoring methods.
The Princess’s first stop in Colombo earlier this week was the MAS Active factory, which has been manufacturing lingerie for Marks & Spencer for 30 years.
Remarking on the “ubiquitous T-shirt which was churned out in millions”, she said: “What do you do with them next? Nobody really thought that one through and they are going to have to think about that sort of thing in the future.
“You think about how much is going into landfill.”
The Princess, president of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, questioned whether a return to traditional processes of clothing manufacture might be the answer.
“You go through the phase when fashion was very structured and people followed fashion, but you had tailors and dressmakers who absolutely fundamentally made that, but you could also alter it because they had the skills to do so,” she said.
“Now you’ve got instant fashion which you then throw away, you don’t alter it because it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
“So whether we’ve got to relearn those skills, go back and say ‘actually, we need materials that can do more than one evolution of fashion…’”
The Princess, who is president of the British Olympic Association, wore her favourite pair of Team GB Adidas sunglasses every day in Sri Lanka.
They were given to her by the British cycling team during the 2012 London Olympics and she has been wearing them ever since.
The Princess, much like her elder brother, the King, believes that all clothing should have a long shelf life.
The sunglasses are thought to have been considered a practical addition to her wardrobe. “If she likes them and they serve a purpose, that’s all that matters,” one source said.
She has been wearing the frameless aerodynamic glasses at public and private engagements for many years. Previously, she wore a very similar pair thought to have been given to her during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Princess is routinely dubbed the “hardest working Royal” for carrying out more public engagements than any other member of the family.
Asked in Sri Lanka about her workload, she described herself as the “eyes and ears” of the monarchy and someone who is committed to travelling around the country to support those “doing an incredibly good job”.
The three-day trip concluded on a colourful note on Friday, with flower garlands, vivid silk shawls and a Hindu blessing at Vajira Pillayar Kovil, a temple in Colombo.
The Princess’s husband, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, 68, was given the chance to banish bad luck and welcome better fortunes by smashing a coconut to the ground.
Outside, they were offered the chance to feed sacred cows, a revered animal in Hinduism, and the Princess held some vegetation as they munched away.
The visit to a temple in Colombo marked a distinct change in tone after the Princess paid her first visit to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemetery as the organisation’s president.
At the immaculately kept Jawatta Cemetery, the Princess paid her respects to service personnel from Sri Lanka and Commonwealth countries, the majority of whom had served during the Second World War.
During a short service of remembrance, an extract from the poem For the Fallen was read and a bugler played the Last Post before a minute’s silence was observed. The Princess laid a wreath of poppies with a handwritten card reading: “We will remember them”, and signed: “Anne”.
It was announced during last year’s Remembrance weekend that the Royal would take on the CWCG role, succeeding the Duke of Kent who had been president of the organisation since 1970. The King was announced as its first patron.