FASHION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

COMBATTING “GREENWASHING” WITH TRANSPARENCY

Fashion and Climate change couldn’t be a more timely subject. Click on the letters below to see the presentation I gave for Sustainable Living. Many of the links in this piece are available on the slideshow.

-SLIDE SHOW FOR FASHION AND CLIMATE CHANGE BY MARY COLMAR-

The fashion industry was poised before the pandemic to make some changes. Away from producing so much fast fashion products while making less of a carbon footprint. 

But after the impact of the global pandemic happened on the economy, the role of the fashion industry in the destruction of the environment and the economy became a blaring reminder that the fragmented industry has to change as a whole. The industry has to work together, from manufacturing to changing the culture of fashion’s expectations in our society around the world to help in the prevention of global destruction as a key participant.

At the moment large corporations are working together by producing fewer goods, less fast fashion, and regular seasons and even down to two a year following the example of Gucci. 

Another key component is to manufacture closer to where the product is being sold. Trying to lessen the carbon footprint it intends to ship less and to produce more in the country where the goods sell. A goal easier said than done as the Western Hemisphere has not invested in the technology necessary to make a yarn out of hemp(being grown on old tobacco farms) for example and so much more necessary in the manufacturing of goods along with all sectors, excluding Europe who invested in the technology needed for manufacturing. 

[There are problems in the Americas in manufacturing, they do not have the technology that can spin a yarn literally from hemp again, which is very popular in the USA and being grown by ex tobacco farmers. The hemp is grown in the US, shipped to Asia as the sophisticated making of the yarn is made into yarn and/or fabric and possibly shipped again and sewn somewhere in the Americas?] 

Especially in the USA, it is a big problem because our minimal clothing manufacturing has not invested in middle management, education, or development and we do not pay our middle management workers enough. We are years behind in the technology needed to manufacture and PLM that Asia and Europe are equipped to do. 

The US are also the people most addicted to fast fashion and yes it is an addiction. These consumers need the education to care about sustainable fashion. Fashion that is less disposable and has more desirability, possibly buy something that has a lasting power of five years or more. Hopefully bringing back the ideal clothing concept becoming treasured again. At one time clothing was handed down through generations. It was made with quality and appreciated for craftsmanship. 

A big movement developing is wearing second hand, as a statement, for individuality, and an easy solution to utilize the plentiful pickings. 

Second-hand clothing has become popular, nothing to scoff at, but at a different level by Department Stores like Nordstrom and the inexpensive furniture store Ikea. 

A place to bring your clothes you no longer want or furniture that was crap in the first place. (on a side note Ikea is working on a way to make their cheap furniture recycled.)

The movement to improve manufacturing with less waste and better design is spreading across the globe with all products from food to fashion. There is an interconnectedness for all of us to participate. Not for profit but for humanity or quality of life for everyone. We are all the 1% not financially but in our individuality. We each can offer our knowledge and ingenuity to our clothing, our lifestyle in the way we eat and where we get our food to how we move around on the planet. 

Groups such as Fashion Makes Change (FMC) is the fashion industry’s new solution that delivers women’s empowerment and climate action in tandem. With a mission to build a community between brands, non-profits, consumers, and supporting industries to responsibly drive action on key social and environmental impacts of fashion, the organization acts as a transformational ecosystem. Fashion Makes Change’s powerful coalition supports the diverse women who work within the apparel supply chain, reimagining how collaboration affects change.

“The truth is that the old way of doing things is not solving the problems. Incremental change isn’t good enough. We are moving too slowly,” said Cara Smyth, Chair of Fashion Makes Change. “Education is the great equalizer. In particular, investing in women builds resilient communities. Catalytic ecosystems that foster profound collaboration are powering the next generation of sustainability and are the only sensible path forward. We have a finite number of days before irreversible global warming. Fashion – and the world – are racing against the clock.”

Fashion Makes Change, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, answers the call by the United Nations Secretary-General to advance progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and looks to all sectors of society in the next ten years to mobilize action locally and globally, to generate a movement to meet this decade of action. Fashion Makes Change strives to build communities of changemakers that will help advance progress on key development goals and ultimately efforts designed to create a more equitable and responsible apparel industry. Fashion Makes Change will initially look to targets aligned with SDG 3, Good health and well-being, SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 5 on Gender Equality, and SDG 8 which addresses Decent Work and Economic Growth.

MAKING AN IMPACT

One of the key organizations that Fashion Makes Change will support is the [email protected] Collaborative, a joint effort of United Nations’ ILO-IFC Better Work, BSR’s HERproject, CARE International, and Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E program, that works to leverage knowledge, skills, and networks to drive collective action for the benefit of women workers and gender equity in global supply chains.

THE INDUSTRY UNITES

Brands and retailers throughout the industry are mobilizing to educate women in the global supply chain at scale by 2030. This comes as the industry’s CEOs and their teams work collectively to demonstrate fashion as a powerful force for good in the world. Consumers increasingly want to drive positive impact and are motivated when they have a voice in using their purchasing power to support the actions brands are taking. Individual and collective efforts in the community are required to tackle the systemic challenges facing our society.

The first activation will launch on March 8th, International Women’s Day, with a program that engages consumers to round up or donate via a global network of retail and fashion brands. The proceeds will be dedicated to educating and empowering women in the supply chain via [email protected]

Funds collected will be deployed through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit organization that helps donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy around the world through research, advisory, management, and project incubation.

This unprecedented collaboration among brands, customers, and non-profits will amplify, scale, and accelerate a global shift towards meaningful change.

The program has support from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Avery Dennison, PR Consulting, and the Accessories Council.

Furthermore, second hand, unique, want it to be the first option. Young people are removing some of the stigmas of used clothing as they are often, customized, embellished, and upcycled.

Depop has a customer base of a 23million and 93 percent are under 26. A company that is expanding access to used clothing. One of many. It is a bigger umbrella. Usually unique, no one else will usually have the same item.

Different Forums:

ImpactFashion.org

Sustainable Fashion Forum 

State of Fashion- BofF.com

EcoFashion.com online magazine

FashionMakesChange.org

More groups: 

FashionForGood.com

[email protected]

Another movement is to reuse clothing rather than see it go into the trash or shipped all over the world looking for a home as the rag quality that they are.

There is no silver bullet. As a manufacturer, someone who has had a clothing line for eight years. I found a gem in the clothing that was spilling out of our closets and sold by the pound at GoodWills.

With my background in production as a patternmaker and technical designer, I found many uses and opportunities for ways to scale up these clothes. Other companies that have scaled up doing similar work are:

Vetements

Atelier and Repair.

Gregory Lauren

SaladBowlDress

One resource for this article is from unitedfashion.com ‘Fashion Makes Change,’ Change Fashion? The new brand-led community promises solutions for the “equalizing” status of garment workers while tackling the climate crisis with collaboration. By Kaley Roshitsh on November 17, 2020

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