Fashion and Climate Change

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 product 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

 

Why Write a Blog?

Why Write a Blog?

Why Write a Blog?

Of course, I had to make money the artist/mom way all these years, not the business way. 

I made one-off goods to sell. Many customers became my friends and owned multiple garments, then COVID hit. 

This year may have been my biggest year yet. I finally had my own studio again after ten years of intermittently working from home. 

I have the product, a few employees, person to person sales, wonderful Farmer’s Market venues and Artisan venues, fashion show recognition, although not any editorials simply for the lack of trying. 

I was going to make some press kits this year. Some line plans, and showroom sales. 

All of that was on a need-to basis, and quite frankly a waste of time, when I was designing, cutting, patterning, and sewing all my work. Everything was going along smoothly until I had the time to grow. 

In addition, I had some decor making ideas, besides a small sideline of organizing one’s house/closet which came naturally since I was collecting unwanted clothing. 

Having lived in NYC for twenty years I became good at home spatial planning and studied the art of organizing while trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff in cramped spaces. 

For fifteen of those years, living with an artist husband and then three kids all making artwork, in a loft in Red Hook Brooklyn. But now I am in the middle of a global pandemic realizing all the skills I’ve learned my whole life and all the interests had are all coming together in this moment of blogging and sharing on social media. 

Thinking this was also my time to make content videos on YouTube since I was a Communications(emphasis on radio, television, and film) graduate years ago, it still loomed in the background, thinking this was also my time to make content videos for YouTube always being interested in documentary film.  

Then covid hit, and in a way, I thought I could do all the things I wanted since I already had the design studio and the money I was planning to use to grow the fashion business was just going to have to help me pivot in an all-encompassing way to being a content creator. One that makes stuff for all media. 

Stuff being loosely defined, in my case as already having real stuff which is called Evergreen content ready for explanation or storytelling. How did I create these stuff / original designs and why, what inspired the one-offs I have been making for years. 

Then why did I make all the fun funky things for my house I saw in a now-defunct magazine called Ready Made and from a website called Ikea Hacks not to mention the Instructables site. This was all stuff I had made and would now be considered Evergreen content. 

Although at the beginning of this pandemic I was completely occupied by a serious turn of events of having to stage our family home, sell said home, and place my mother in a new home and rid her of all her belongings just as things were closing down. Something of a similar phenomenon was going on with my inlaws. At just this time their age had been catching up with them and it was time they all had to move to an independent living environment. 

Things really worked out with them as they all moved out of their respective homes and into full-time care facilities. The home I staged had closed by March 31 thankfully as people were in full lockdown. As a fashion business not only was I not allowed in my studio building there was time for helping my parents which were fortunate. Then after the first wave of wondering what to do, knowing making masks were what was expected I finally got started on making them deemed an essential worker, but I had to sew everything myself because my one employee was needed at her home. 

It was after sewing hundreds of masks, and selling and donating about half, I took a class that kind of changed my life. 

An online course of all things. You have heard it all before and in my case, it was the right thing at the right time. It validated that essentially I was a content creator but did not know how to go about making money doing everything that I loved. The class was from Melissa Griffen who I had met at a conference in Las Vegas. So she kind of knew me.

The validation propelled me to where I am today six months later with a new blog and validation that all the work I have done all these years trying to get the big sales or wondering why I kept going other than that I loved making it all, became a vast bank of useable Evergreen content, for my posts, pins, and videos. 

Yeah, I am a content creator who has consistently posted a blog weekly for almost three months now. Not counting the years of Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Pinterest posts sharing my work over the years. 

Furthermore, having the most followers on my Linkedin account for really not doing anything but someone everyone always wants to have in their arsenal of skilled workers, a patternmaker/technical designer.

This new job is in high demand and helps work out any problems with where I am going in my career as someone in high demand. 

But why didn’t I do this sooner? I started and stopped blogging many times. Consistency is key with blogging and as a side hustle, there is only so much time one has as a mother and a Worker is what I called my title sometimes.

The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers

The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers

The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers

For years I worked in the fashion industry as a professional patternmaker and tailor in NYC and Los Angeles. I have worked for some iconic brands like Betsy Johnson, Ellen Tracy, and here in the O.C. at St. John Knits were making the clothing was an art form, fun, creative, and inspiring. 

But other companies where I worked, the fast-fashion money crunchers were not so inspiring, seeing in-house samples and store-bought samples shipped overseas to be copied by factories all over the world, haggling over a few cents in cost, demanding lower prices sacrificing better quality on a daily basis, took its toll. 

At the same time, I was experiencing that we all had so many clothes and nothing to wear. All the clothing in our individual lives is overtaking all of us. Going out to buy something new every week, and never really being satisfied.

Furthermore, I saw the quality of the workmanship or fabrics get destroyed to make a profit. I felt as a consumer and an American I could afford better quality, better design, and overall better fit. 

That’s when I started my own line of custom clothing. When you try on my Salad Bowl Dress pieces they feel good, hang well, and follow the form of the person wearing them. That is what you get with tailoring, hand sewing, and independently picked fabrications. Clothing that is durable for an active life, flattering to the soul, full of compartments to place the devices we all depend on, binoculars, scissors, found objects, shoes, food, and glasses. 

All the clothing is hand-made by me, Mary Colmar, in my studio, on my industrial single needle sewing machine and industrial Juki serge machine. (All larger quantity orders are made locally by individuals that sew as well and local contractors).

Subsequently, people ask me all the time where do I get all the clothes I cut up? To this day I have not had to buy anything at the Good Will except once when there was a run on trench coats I was making and I arrived to find all the name brand chino pants I was using were half price. 

Sometimes I want to make up a story that at the stroke of midnight I walk out into the forest and pick clothes falling off trees. Because clothing is everywhere being thrown out or begged to be removed from overstuffed closets. 

Actually, when I moved to the suburbs and sat in the parking lot looking at all the people walking out of the mall I thought, these are the fashionistas, they are going to look great. 

Almost the opposite, a lot of people were buying more of the same ill-fitting, cheap fabrications of a designers original concept, completely dummied down by the greedy fast fashion money crunchers that could care less about giving people what they really want but instead focused on what they would spend because we all know the less expensive the better for us, ha, ha.

The incredible waste I saw also irked me to no end. We literally had ninety percent of our work go in the trash to exploit that one company or garment that met our needs in cost. 

I began to wonder about the lives of these garment workers and I could not justify the fact that they might starve if not for the garment worker job which really was not the case. There are rich cultures of traditional craft and occupations before the factories moved in.