With society consuming fashion at an extreme rate leading to detrimental environmental and social impacts, it was refreshing to see such emphasis on sustainability this season. Compared to 2002, the average person now buys 60% more clothing and keeps them for half as long, with many embellishments and textiles being non-recyclable, it is encouraging to see up-and-coming and well-established designers paving the way for the future.
This season at Fashion Scout we saw designers, Nous Etudions, The Swedish School of Textiles and Jiri Kalfar amongst others that altered their approach, adopting a sustainable way of designing to combat their contribution to polluting the environment. This season, vegan Argentine brand Nous Etudions, were awarded our SS19 ‘Ones to Watch’ accolade. Designer, Romina Cardillo’s SS19 collection “Creatures of the Universe”, was inspired by “nature, shapes and textures”. Other designers such as Jiri Kalfar opted for up-cycled sequins made from unwanted clothes and biodegradable shoes. The designer stated “the fashion world is changing and if the small designers don’t speak out, then the big ones won’t follow. It’s important - lead by example.”
Just in the UK, the domestic market value of the fashion industry is £66 billion, with companies such as; Burberry, Marks and Spencer, Next and ASOS all making a huge contribution to this figure. Just in July of this year it was revealed that Burberry had been burning unsold stock worth up to $28.6 million. Alongside this hidden but common practice, issues such as excessive water-usage, poor working conditions, non-recyclable textiles and the use of animal products within clothing have all been bought to light over recent years.
“THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS A DIRTY INDUSTRY AND I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO START GETTING THE WORD ACROSS BECAUSE THEN PEOPLE GET IT. I’VE SEEN ACTUALLY A LOT OF BIG BRANDS CHANGING THEIR POLICY ON SUSTAINABILITY AND I THINK IT’S BECAUSE THE FASHION WORLD IS CHANGING AND IF THE SMALL DESIGNERS DON’T SPEAK OUT, THEN THE BIG ONES WON’T FOLLOW. IT’S IMPORTANT. AT LEAST LEAD BY EXAMPLE.”
The increase in fast fashion brands and the throw-away attitude that many people have adopted in this consumer-led society, has meant that extreme measures are being put in place to control this “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment” industry, as mentioned by Stella McCartney. The ethics-focused designer, Stella McCartney has consistently led the way for other designer brands to follow her sustainable attributes. She has been creating “sustainable luxury fashion” for nearly 20 years and her brand is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Ethical Trading Initiative and regularly partners with PETA. Recently, McCartney collaborated again with Adidas to create her own vegan Stan Smith trainers, renewing such an iconic shoe and moving it forward, will be encouraging for other brands as the demand for more environmental and animal friendly fashion increases.
Organisations such as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and Drapers’ new Sustainable Fashion event are bringing together designers, businesses and consumers to create solutions to these overwhelming problems to ensure this profound industry moves forward correctly. As a consumer, you may want to think about investing in one better quality and ethically produced item as opposed to many fast-fashion pieces that you discard after wearing it just a handful of times. The app and website “Good on You” can help you discover which brands are more sustainable and find ones you had never heard of. Everyone is responsible, everyone can make a difference, and we’re pleased to provide a platform to elevate those that are paving way.
Words by Ellie Pinder