Let's be honest none of us are buying fashion to save the world. We buy fashion because it makes us look good or we love the colour. Our fashion choices are about how it makes us feel. If this is true of the majority of us, how do we as an industry create change in how people shop?
Is it possible to do well, by doing good?
As consumers we have a conscious choice in how we invest money in our fashion purchases. If we as buyers of fashion shift where we spend our money, we shift the industry. Our choice has the power to influence the fashion industry to give us more sustainable choices.
It's a massive task. It means as a fashion designer you can still create the perfect, desired fit in that irresistible sexy dress, but still make it in a sustainable manner. And give back choice to consumers.
I wish it was just up to us, the industry. But some of us do all we can then just wait with bated breath when it hits the shelves to see if people will choice our designs over other’s. You, I and everyone at home plays a role in this pivotal change towards a better world.
As a consumer, the power is in your hands. You have the power to read the labels, ask the shop assistant about the garments, find out where they are made and what they are made from. This makes you purchase transparent, so you make an informed choice.
It takes making a conscious, intelligent choice to buy an ethically sustainable garment rather than the cheaper, fast fashion item, especially if it costs more. But, it sends a powerful message to the fashion industry, and has the potential to make a global difference.
For many years sustainable fashion was just a concept. In my eyes, today, it’s a necessity.
Statistics around the use of cotton, for example, makes for interesting reading. Even organic cotton takes just as much of nature’s vast water resources as regular cotton to create. The main difference being it doesn't have the pesticides.
But cotton is not the only fabric we can choose from, and many more sustainable options exist. There are fabrics made from the surplus food, from primary products such as milk and corn. And in general only 35% of fabric is used in making a garment so leftover fabric can be collected and ground down to make new fibres and therefore completely new fabric.
And these are just a few examples; there are so many more... I could go on and on.
As consumers and designers, we must also consider how we use the fashion we buy. How much we wear it and what we do with it when we are done with it.
The sustainable story of fashion doesn’t stop with the designer and manufacturer. In the lifecycle of a fashion item, consumers control more than 40% of the environmental impact by how much we wash, dry, iron or dry clean our clothing. As with many things in sustainability, minimising these activities is the environmental choice.
We need to flip the switch on how we view garbage too, so that its regarded as a potentially valuable resource and not merely a waste product.
It starts with us. We can look for opportunities in our own neighbourhoods for our unwanted items of clothing, giving them a second life by popping them in a clothing recycle bin or delivering them to a second hand store.
And of course you may ask yourself what difference is it going to make if I make small changes? And yes, sometimes the concept of sustainable fashion can be overwhelming. But I do believe that we as a whole can make a huge, lasting difference.
We just need to look at ourselves, see what we’re doing, and make little but powerful changes in our own lives. Collectively we can make a difference. And it can be really can be easy and even fun.
My ambition is to use fashion as a communication tool to contribute to developing a better world. Let's create intelligent fashion, the little things do matter. It is never too late to do well, by doing good.