September is a big month for fashion, its Fashion Month. All over the world hundreds of shows will take place, setting the trends for the coming season. This September we are asking big questions about a sustainable fashion future. We also took advantage of being in a location with a pool.
Though out our lives we take stock and ask ourselves important questions. Is our life taking the shape we want or are we rushing through life? Are we getting caught up in short-term goals, instead of looking at the bigger picture? This is the question I asked myself recently and I found the answer was a resounding, yes, to the later. So I thought it is time we start asking the same questions to the industries that serve us.
Has The True Meaning Of Fashion Been Lost?
Over the last 20 years, large fashion institutions have grown to become some of the most powerful industries in the world. Raking in billions of pounds worth of profits and entangling themselves into an upward spiral of short-sighted greed, that is very difficult to undo.
These industries that we hold in such high esteem are anything but sustainable. Due to this short-sighted vision, now, even they are collapsing under the pressure of their own making. Spreading human and natural resources thin on the ground, by releasing new collections on a weekly basis at ever cheaper prices.
We are learning about the huge problems created by this style of business. As more light is shed on the nature of this shady commerce, millions of people are directly and privately asking important questions. Who made our clothes? How is the environment suffering? Can we change?
When nothing is more important than increasing profits year upon year, many companies have become a pressure pot bubbling over to meet their own targets and tight deadlines. We ask, who benefits from this system, other than those at the top? Is it possible to slow down this unnecessarily fast treadmill?
I doubt many will deny, that mainstream fashion is no longer about good service, careful design or quality over competitors. Instead, the top priority is a race to the bottom pricing scheme that has changed the face of fashion and the way we view our clothes.
Maybe the main moment we remember the true spirit of fashion is when a designer retrospective comes to the V&A or similar exhibition space. We vaguely reminisce about better times, when the spectacle of clothing was considered an art form, and the necessity of passionate vision to create clothes that define eras.
Time to Change?
We need clothes which reflect the times. Our planet can not keep up with the current demand. Many of the worlds most vulnerable people are falling victim to the whimsical attitude towards dressing. We need a new system. Clothes built with longevity in mind, multi-wear garments, cloth made from new cutting-edge fibres.
There are so many fabric innovations, such as, Pinatex, which is a vegan alternative to leather made from the pineapple leaves. Banana fibres can be bonded into cloth and Newlife polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles. We need our industries to embrace this modernisation and have more flexible pricing structures, moving away from cheap as chips non-biodegradable fabrics. We need a forward thinking, cleaner industry that is less exploitive and more respectful of the earth. Most importantly we need an attitude adjustment.
Mainstream Fashion Is Struggling.
Millions of people all over the world demanding better from an outdated system that seemingly falls mercy to no one. Even the long-running institutional magazines are suffering. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that printed media is struggling to maintain relevance in this fast-paced world. Content often lacks a true interaction between fashion and modern lifestyle.
In the past, magazines would offer genuinely helpful information. Tips on how to make DIY accessories, with useful solutions for the savvy stylish woman. Now many magazines add to the echo chamber of the current IT celebrity with nothing much to actually say. Heads are easily turned by the next upcoming endorsement and “must haves” existing hugely as a glamorised advert for an unattainable fashion sense and lifestyle.
One of the huge reasons the industry is in danger is for not playing the long game. For racing to the top, instead of growing organically, and for failing to stay true to their roots. They say that comparison is the killer of dreams. It seems that most retailers now have lost any originality they once had, by caring too much about the competition. Taking advantage of the customers and in doing so ultimately falling victim to their own success. Do any customers feel a true sense of loyalty to a brand anymore?
The rise of affordable sustainability and luxury products, you better believe is a direct hit back at these systems. Bringing us more transparent supply chains, a fair price for products, and acknowledging the earth’s finite resources.
It is called sustainable fashion, but we see it as the common sense of the future. Repairing the damage caused by exploitive systems and bringing true creativity back to the forefront. When all is in need of a shake up the playing field is left open for anyone to play. That is exactly what many designers are doing. By cleverly crowdfunding and self-invested projects. Passion is making a comeback and without it, fashion doesn’t stand a chance.
Focus has returned to the product, with a magnifying glass on each step of the way from design to production. Giving meaning back to clothing, that will transcend the short seasons. It is time for the powerhouses to take this issue seriously, clean up and slow down. The risks outweigh the rewards, for us all. Any company too selfish to change deserves to fall into administration. Remembering them as a relic of irrelevance in changing world.
The September Issue
This is one reason I applaud the newest edition of Elle magazine. Is this a ray of light for the future of clothing and fashion journalism? With the launch of the infamous September issue, we jump with joy as the whole publication is dedicated to sustainability. Promoting individuality, encouraging customisation, discussing slow fashion and giving advocates some valuable airtime.
Titled: The Fashion Future, This Will Change The Way You Shop. I excitedly purchased the magazine for the first time in years. Filling through the pages like I was 18 again, taking notes and doodling in the margins. From cover to cover, they highlighted the best ethical fashion houses, natural beauty products, and my favourite an Eco A-Z which is now available to view online. The list gave us fun, digestible information and tips on how to get involved. Inspiring us to think of small efforts we can all make.
I underlined nearly every quote from Pandora Sykes‘ piece on being a fashion influencer. Promoting the vital action of re-wearing your clothes, without buying to satisfy our audiences, but instead re-shopping our own wardrobes. She says, “having a sustainable wardrobe is as much about how you wear it as how you shop.” So refreshing.
The pages were all printed on recycled paper, something which we are hoping they keep up from now on. They actually felt more premium than the stereotypical glossy pages. We hope this September issue influences more magazines to follow suit. Start noticing the power behind fashion with a positive message. Sustainability is no longer something to be mocked. It is modern, it is exciting and it is oh so very relevant.
Can sustainability save fashion? I think it can, but it will require a big overhaul of the current system and a positive state of mind. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Into The Eco
Photos: Josh Jonh
Bikini: Second Hand from my Mum.