This is a guest blog post by Point Off View, an agency focused on digital communication and sustainable transformation.
Creative director and artivist Marina Testino has launched the #OneDressToImpress challenge to showcase what sustainability means for climate justice and gender equality. All by wearing the same sustainably sourced purple suit for the month of September, fashion month.
The challenge is not much different from her 2018 #OneDressToImpress – yet, the message a bit more complex: Testino aims to raise awareness around conscious consumerism as well as women empowerment. In other words, she is on a mission to cultivate and inspire audiences on how to be conscious with our closets in order to support climate justice and also denounce the existing gender gap within the fashion industry.
Using a forceful visual narrative, she targets what is beneath the surface: the immense 80% of young women working in the fashion world as well as those in the corporate and consumer side that don’t have a voice and are kept in the dark. Purple was chosen for the suit as it is historically associated with the fight for gender equality, representing justice and dignity.
The campaign shows that equality and sustainability are strongly intertwined and that they can only be achieved through a communion of purposes and spirits. It is imperative, now more than ever, that all those involved in the fashion industry, understand the vital importance of their roles and push for a change.
Cheap prices and overproduction of clothing are some of the reasons why the fashion industry is one of the biggest producers of waste in the world. Over 20% of what’s made ends up unconsumed and, therefore, thrown away. As we know, these tons of unused material will not simply disappear from the Earth’s surface but rather, will remain and grow if consumers don’t ask for a change. Because of old patterns and linear practices, fashion still produces higher than its demand, and we cannot afford this way of irresponsible waste anymore.
This Purple Edition tells us that there is no need to treat consumers as simply the destination of a product but rather the essential medium for a real change. Marina reminds us that the time has come for everyone to really start being conscious about what is going on around them, starting from a small milestone such as what we wear every day.
Wearing only this outfit for a whole month, she wants to provoke the fashion industry, raise awareness around its constant consumerist marketing and demonstrate how one suit can have endless uses. This campaign is sending the message that all of us can have our own #OneDressToImpress and that we should all take on this challenge and try to overcome preconceptions, awaken our creativity and remember that #LovedClothesLast.
This is a guest blog post by The OR Foundation, a movement for a justice-led circular economy. During Second Hand September, we shared a range of ‘Myth vs. Fact’ content unpicking some common misconceptions about the secondhand clothing trade. We also hosted a panel event, Solidarity in the Secondhand Supply Chain, featuring key stakeholders from across the industry to build constructive debate on the future of resale and recycling.
The global secondhand clothing trade is a supply chain. It is an expansive for-profit business network that represents the primary source of clothing for over half of the global population.
The secondhand clothing trade has long been marketed as charity, but it has always been a for-profit outlet for the Global North’s excess. Clothing is not given out for free to those in need. You might donate your clothing for free, but it still costs money to collect, sort, grade, stock, resell and transport secondhand clothing and the people investing money in those activities expect to make a profit in return.
Secondhand retailers in the Global North can only sell about 10-20% of what they collect in the country of consumption. Most of the clothing donated in the Global North will pass through multiple hands in multiple countries before ultimately being exported to the Global South where retailers purchase individual bales. Retailers in Kantamanto spend between $75-500 per bale, many taking out loans to purchase the clothing.
While you may look at the Made In tag on your clothing to define the ‘country of origin’, for many people in the Global South, the country of origin is the country from which the secondhand bale was exported. Just as there is a value chain of farms, mills and factories that participate in manufacturing new clothing, so too is there a chain of brands, consumers, charities, resale platforms, graders and exporters that make up the secondhand supply chain.
Today many brands are rebranding the secondhand clothing trade by using the language of “recycling” or “circularity”. Typically when people think of recycling they think of old garments being turned into new garments, but the majority of what is collected by most brands is simply diverted into the secondhand clothing trade, with the bulk of these items being exported to the Global South. Many garments are resold and upcycled through resale markets like Kantamanto, but nearly just as many become waste. Kantamanto sees 15 million garments a week, and 40% leave as waste. The clothing that is exported to secondhand markets in the Global South is not recycled into new textiles.
Framing the secondhand trade as either charity *or* recycling centres the perspective of the sender (the person giving away an item) and perpetuates an abstract, depoliticized narrative that confuses people and provides an excuse for overproduction and overconsumption. Understanding the secondhand clothing trade as a supply chain pushes us to ask the same questions of the secondhand trade that we ask of the new clothing trade, including questions about the labour involved. Questions like:
Understanding the labour involved in today’s system of recirculation is the first step in ensuring safe and dignified employment opportunities in the circular economy of the future.
The global secondhand clothing trade is a legacy of Colonialism and exists within the over-supplied chain of new fashion as an outlet for people to buy more new clothes.
Under colonial rule, Ghanaians were expected to conform to professional dress codes as defined by the British. In order to enter certain rooms, to get certain jobs, attend certain schools or to be considered a ‘modern global citizen’, Ghanaians had to forgo their local dress in favour of Western clothing, swapping out sustainably made kente for a shirt and tie. Colonialism created the conditions for conformity. Navigating oppressive colonial rules is a survival mechanism, not an expression of demand. Colonisers profited from those rules by selling hand-me-downs and importing used clothing. This evolved into the secondhand trade we know today.
The global secondhand clothing trade is supply-driven, not demand-driven. The type of garments and quality of clothing available to traders in the Global South is entirely dependent on the quality and care of clothing being produced, purchased, returned, worn and donated in the Global North. The supply-driven nature of the secondhand economy impacts everyone along the value chain, including resale platforms, consignment stores, charities, clothing collectors, graders and exporters in the Global North, but ultimately all of these actors can choose to pass less desirable clothing down the chain to importers and retailers in the Global South.
Generally, importers cannot order a container full of the exact bales that they want and they do not see the specific items they are purchasing. Importers have little negotiating power over what is shipped and they assume that up to ⅓ of the clothing on each container will be difficult to sell (eg. bedsheets, single-use tees and winter clothing) and will likely become waste.
No segment of the fashion industry accurately predicts demand, hence the existence of deadstock and unsold goods. Given the unpredictable nature of clothing donations, the resale economy cannot accurately predict stock levels. But Kantamanto has no outlet for its excess – it is the last link in the oversupplied chain.
Secondhand fashion and textiles have the potential to transform the industry for good, but at present, we are turning blind eye to the hidden actors in the supply chain. The people who sort, recycle and resell our unwanted clothes, and the often unjust systems that underpin their work. The garments that end up as waste in landfill, and the consequences of these rotting fashion mountains on the natural world.
It’s time for a more mindful approach to how we buy, sell, resell and recycle clothing
The oversupply of cheap secondhand clothing teaches people that clothing is disposable and primes people to become consumers of new fast fashion. The secondhand clothing trade is seen as an outlet for fashion excess and therefore must operate at the scale and pace of the new clothing industry. Secondhand clothing markets are overwhelmed with cheap fast fashion items. The never-ending supply of non-durable items drives down the perceived value of clothing.
Secondhand retailers struggle to invest in rehabilitating lower quality items, and must keep buying more low-quality clothing to pay off the losses from previous bales. Waste accumulates in the market and in the environment. It is a vicious cycle, one that teaches citizens that clothing is a disposable commodity.
The more the Global North floods the Global South with disposable clothing, the more prolific the attitude that clothing is meant to be cheap and disposable.
Low-quality garments become desirable when brands convince people that investing in convenience is more important than investing in quality. This is bad news for local independent designers and good news for foreign fast fashion companies looking to expand to new markets.
As more people enter the middle class in Ghana, they are ordering clothing from major global retailers, not shopping from local designers.
There is no evidence that the abundant supply of secondhand clothing in the Global North has slowed down the consumption and production of new garments, and there is no evidence that the exportation of secondhand clothing to the Global South has eliminated any desire for new clothing. Instead it has primed new markets to become consumers of fast fashion.
Fashion’s waste crisis is caused by the exploitation of workers and of resources. Disposable fashion is only profitable because the people who make our clothes are not paid a living wage and environmental damage isn’t factored into the price tag.
Fiber-to-fibre recycling is absolutely necessary, but any brand that attempts to blame fashion’s waste crisis on a lack of recycling infrastructure is greenwashing. Brands are not adequately investing in the textile recycling technologies that already exist, and it could also take years before these technologies are able to absorb a meaningful amount of fashion’s excess.
Recycling is not a silver bullet solution that offsets the overproduction of garments and the exploitation of everyone from garment workers to secondhand retailers. We can’t tackle fashion’s waste crisis if the majority of people working in fashion from factories to secondhand markets are indebted to the very system that is exploiting them.
Circular solutions could be the key to a more sustainable fashion industry. But any brand that prioritizes recycling over ensuring that the people growing, sewing, repairing, reselling and upcycling our clothes are earning a living wage is not interested in solving the problem. When brands continue to overproduce while paying lip service to circularity, they are not interested in solving the problem, they are interested in extracting profit from the problem.
The fashion system is built on waste and exploitation, but that waste is not factored into the price tag we see in shops and online stores. We stand for a fair and equitable fashion economy for the people paying the true cost.
Today, new clothing can be acquired for as little as used clothing, and the resale market is saturated with both new and “like-new” garments. This means that any small defect or sign of wear makes a garment less desirable and less profitable amid a sea of other options.
There are fewer high quality, made-to-last items in circulation, and with the rise of resale in the Global North, more of these items are being extracted from the flow of secondhand goods. This leaves secondhand graders and exporters in the Global South with more low grade items. Roughly 25% of the clothing that enters Kantamanto every week is single-use t-shirts from marathons, hen-dos, conferences and family reunions, many of them faded and stretched.
When retailers in Kantamanto open a bale, they assess the goods, sorting the clothing into four piles called selections. While retailers can sometimes end up with a bale that is completely spoiled due to mould or odour, most bales contain less than 6% trash. This means that 94% of every bale is deemed wearable by Kantamanto retailers. And yet 40% leaves as waste.
Why does so much secondhand clothing end up as waste? In Kantamanto there are two main reasons ↓
1. Kantamanto shoppers know that there is a never ending supply of goods coming through the market. With this in mind, many people buy only the first selection, which is “like new” and makes up only 18% of the average bale. If a retailer is out of first selection, the customer would rather come back the next day when there is a new bale than buy the remaining lower quality garments. Basically, one man’s trash is not another man’s treasure, it’s just trash, regardless of whether it is wearable or not.
2. Because of the decreasing quantity of first selection goods per bale, many retailers have less money to invest in rehabilitating lower quality garments (like a stained and stretched marathon t-shirt) through cleaning, ironing, dyeing, tailoring or upcycling. Instead, retailers have only one option to maintain cash flow — buy another bale. To make room for more stuff they have to get rid of old merchandise. People in need will pick over the waste piles at the end of the day, but there are still far more garments than can even be given away for free. Thus, wearable clothing goes to waste.
There is no market capable of absorbing the excess produced by the fashion industry. The secondhand clothing trade adds an important link to fashion’s supply chain, extending the life of billions of garments every year, but it does not close the loop. The only way to ensure that all garments reach their potential is to slow down production of new clothing and invest in the sharing economy to enable enhanced cleaning, mending, altering and upcycling of what already exists.
This is a guest blog post by Tamsin Chislett, the Co-founder & CEO of Onloan, the UK’s leading fashion rental & resale subscription platform. She is an Acumen Global Fellow, and previously worked for an organic & Fairtrade cotton factory in Northern Uganda.
Recently there was a story published with the headline “Renting clothes is worse than throwing it away.“
It came as a shock, not only because I work within the rental industry, but because it also felt at odds with everything we’ve been hearing in recent years about the need for circular based solutions to our fast fashion, linear shopping habits. Something desperately required as a means to conserve and protect our environment.
Unsurprisingly, with such compelling headlines, I wanted to delve deeper and concluded that the study’s findings, which focused on comparing the global warming potential of different ownership and end-of-life models for textiles, deserved more debate.
Here are my thoughts:
The study concluded “In sum, it can be said that if uses can be doubled and delivery can be arranged without impacts to “Global Warming Potential”, then the ‘rent’) scenario can reach approximately the same level of GWP as the REUSE scenario.”
This should have been the main takeaway and in my view, the details matter.
Rental needs scrutiny to make it as ‘green’ as possible and businesses have to consider transportation, packaging, washing techniques, garment care, and garment afterlife. Even then, re-wearing what we already own will still be a more ‘sustainable’ option. But to say rental is worse than throwing an item away seems flawed. Extending the life of clothing has a significantly positive impact on the planet. Extending the life of clothes by an extra nine months reduces its carbon, water, and waste footprint by around 20-30% each, and cuts the cost in resources used to supply, launder and dispose of clothing by 20% (source).
Whether we get bored of something, it no longer fits correctly, or it’s simply an impulse purchase we bought for “newness”, the fast fashion industry thrives on people buying, wearing less, and then buying again. During the past 10 years, the number of items of clothing purchased per consumer has more than doubled (source), and yet, it is estimated that more than half of the fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year (source).
Rental isn’t the perfect solution to this and needs to be challenged. We need to work collectively and openly to effect change and constantly improve. It is one part of a cultural shift where we have to put value back into the clothes, textiles and raw materials that we use and likewise value those that create them for us across the supply chain. It’s also a system shift that sees us utilise all circular solutions while ensuring these don’t come at a cost to the planet we live in.
So if you haven’t before, why not try out one of the three ‘R’s,’ rental, repair and resale? We’re now in Second Hand September, an initiative that invites people not to buy anything new for a month. Instead, it’s about exploring second-hand options or utilising what we already own. It’s a great way to start to think about the circularity of our wardrobes.
In my mind, rental has the potential to be the ultimate second-hand solution. Loved clothes last longer, and what better way to love something and then let it go for someone else to love another day.
This is a guest blog post by The Seam for Second Hand September. Founded in Hackney in 2019, The Seam is a platform that connects customers with local, specialist makers to alter, repair and transform clothing to increase wardrobe longevity, and ensure that good fit is available to all.
Online secondhand shopping is fashion’s future. By 2030, it’s predicted that second-hand clothes will comprise around 18% of the average wardrobe, up from 9% in 2020. This is a welcome shift for the future of the planet, and will help tackle the 13 million garments discarded in the UK each week. As well as keeping clothing out of landfill and in circulation, the re-sale market decreases the need for new fabric production by reducing demand.
For many people, the rise of resale offers a less expensive and more sustainable way to refresh wardrobes, along with the potential to earn money from unused clothes. But there remains a roadblock in the potential of second-hand clothes: finding the perfect fit.
The complexity around secondhand sizing stems from the fashion industry’s lack of standardisation. The very first en masse size standardisations for garment manufacturing were put forth in 1958. Over the decades that followed, ‘vanity sizing’ continuously eased sizes and shifted standards with the assumption that if a woman found herself wearing a size 10 in jeans at Levis and an 8 at GAP, her loyalty would fall with the latter brand (thanks, patriarchy). Buying clothing from decades past renders the numbers on the tag essentially meaningless: a women’s size 12 in 1958 now matches a contemporary size 6. And the term ‘standard’ is far from an accurate description of how sizes shift from one retailer to the next.
Even before we bring this sizing problem into the realm of secondhand, clothing fit is the number one reason for garment returns in the UK, and it’s fueling an epidemic of purchases headed straight to landfill.
Beyond the confusion around interpreting sizing on secondhand clothes, there is a lack of size representation above a UK size 12. Aja Barber writes, ‘The fashion industry has, noticeably, always failed to invite bigger bodies to the party’. And with the mainstream fashion industry creating the product of the secondhand trade, thrifting shares this exclusivity. Consider, for example, that searching for a ‘dress’ on Depop generates 240,000 search results in a UK size 10, and just 1,900 in a UK size 24.
A final challenge of finding the right size in secondhand is the fact that there’s only one of each item, with no option to exchange for another size if it doesn’t fit.
At The Seam, we consider ourselves custodians of better clothing fit, as well as loving secondhand for its circular potential. Below, we’ve put together our top tips for cracking the sizing conundrum, embracing resale and ensuring that #LovedClothesLast.
Most resale garments are labelled by their original brand name, and most clothing brands differ on the exact proportions their sizes cater to. When checking out secondhand garms from a major brand name, the best thing you can do is pop over to the original brand website and scope out their size chart. On top of learning how to take good measurements, this will set you up for success when it comes to fit.
We can think of standardised sizes as the fashion industry’s best guess at our shape. The Seam is trying to make a good fit open to everyone. Using a digital platform, we’ve created an accessible way for people in London to find local, trusted Makers, get a free fitting, and transform ill-fitting clothes into favourites. Whether that’s through a trouser hem, waist alteration, or tapered seams, crafting the perfect fit can turn a disappointing thrift into a cherished piece.
Sometimes the issue with fit is hard to pinpoint. In times like these, it’s more about a nuanced ‘something-isn’t-right’ than the need for a clear cut alteration, which makes them perfect for an upcycling project or creative rework. Whether this means changing a dress into a 2 piece co-ord set, or converting sleeves from full to fitted, you can think of thrifted clothes as just the starting point to realise your vision.
This is a guest blog post by Millie Scott, upcycled fashion accessories designer and member of Fashion Revolution Scotland.
The way we care for our clothes has a huge impact on the environmental footprint of what we wear. But being more eco doesn’t necessarily mean going out and buying a whole new wardrobe from sustainable brands. It can be as simple as looking at what you already have, and thinking about how you can look after these clothes better and keep them in your wardrobe for longer. In fact, 1/3 of the carbon footprint of clothes comes from the way we care for them (Valuing our clothes: The cost of UK fashion | WRAP).
The denim repair guide below covers the following techniques for mending your jeans, all of which can be done at home with a domestic sewing machine and simple sewing kit.
Mending the zip on your jeans can seem like a really daunting task, but if you have the right tools and a little bit of patience, it can be a very satisfying repair job. It is also such a great way to keep your clothes wearable and in your wardrobe instead of landfill.
What you will need
Unpick your broken zip. I like to use a seam ripper to make sure I am only cutting the stitches and not picking up any of the denim warps/wefts. Make sure you remove all old threads. It’s a bit of a faff but it’s much easier doing it now because once your zip is sewn into place, the old thread can be much harder and sometimes impossible to remove, so you’ll get a much cleaner finish removing all old thread now. You’ll want to unpick approx. 6cm of the waistband stitching as well as some of the heavier stitches towards the bottom of the zip. This will make it easier to insert your zip. You can take photos of your zip before you unpick it all to help you remember how it looks if you want.
Pin the left-hand side of zip tape right side to right side onto the left crotch seam. Make sure the top of your zip tape lines up with the top of the seam. Use the line of the old seam as a guide to keep your zip straight. I like to put my pins along this line to make sure the zip is sitting exactly where it needs to be. You can turn the zip over so the right side is facing up and check to make sure the zip is sitting straight before you sew it in.
Change the foot on your sewing machine to the zip foot and sew into place. Take the zip fly and sew it to this seam using the same seam allowance (usually 0.5cm or 1cm.).
Topstitch the seam down to give it a crisp edge. A lot of jeans have contrast top stitching here, I always try and match whatever the original garment has.
Pin the other side of the zip right side to right side along the right-hand side crotch seam. Again, make sure the top of your zip tape lines up with the top of the seam and use the old stitch lines as a guide for keeping your zip straight. Sew in place. Check your zip is sitting right by zipping it up. It should be sitting flat and neat.
Next we top stitch the crotch, if the jeans had a contrast colour thread here, change your thread now. You want to make sure the layers underneath are sitting nice and flat before and whilst you are sewing, so take your time. Be careful not to catch the waistband here, both on top and underneath the jeans. I find it easiest to guide the needle into the correct place using the wheel, so my needle is down through the jeans before I start stitching, this also means you are less likely to catch the waistband in. Use the stitch lines of the old stitches as a guide for your crotch shape.
If you can’t see the old stitch lines, you can always chalk in a shape before you sew. If you’re happy with your shape, sew another line of stitches, either using the old stitch lines as a guide or just match the shape of your own stitch line. It’s important that these stitch lines are well sewn and straight. If you need to unpick and re-stitch to make sure it looks neat and has a nice curve, do it. Otherwise, it can look really messy.
Keeping the contrast colour thread in, top stitch the waistband into place on both the left and right-hand side of the jeans. Top stitch across the bottom of the zip and anywhere else that you unpicked that needs restitched.
Being able to hem your own trousers is such a great technique to know. The great thing about this technique is that you can use it on any garment hem, not just jeans.
What you will need
Measure how much your jeans need taken up by and mark it with a pin on the outside of the jean leg. In this example, they are coming up by 8cm. Make sure you don’t catch the other side of the jeans with your pin.
From the inside of the jeans, take a measurement of the inside hem and note it down. In this example, the hem is 1.5cm. This means we need 3cm seam allowance to make this 1.5cm hem (1.5 x 2).
Measure 3cm down from the first pin, this is how much we are going to cut off your jeans. Take your measuring tape and measure from the second pin down to the bottom of the hem and take a note of this measurement. In this example the measurement is 4.8cm.
Measure from the bottom of the hem up 4.8cm, marking the measurement with either pins or chalk around the whole bottom of the leg. Take your fabric scissors and cut along the chalk/pin line.
Turn the jeans inside out. In this example, we have a 3cm seam allowance for our hem. Take your measuring tape and measure 6cm up from the bottom of the jeans (3cm x 2) and pin/chalk this measurement all the way around the jeans.
Go to the ironing board and fold the bottom of the hem up to meet the pins/chalk line, use your iron on a medium-high heat and press it into place. Use a bit of steam if needed, if you are worried about your fabric then put cloth/fabric between the fabric and the jeans. Repeat around the whole hem of your jeans until your hem is turned up all the way around. This method will give us a really crisp edge when we are sewing our new hemline and should make it really easy for us to sew.
You can check your hem is the right measurement by measuring the turned up hem – in this case, we would want the turned up hem to measure 3cm.
Roll the hem back down, then take the hem and fold it up to where the crease is that we have just pressed into the jeans. Fold the hem up again so the seam edge is in line with the 6cm pins/chalk line and pin into place. Repeat around the whole jean cuff. This should be easy to do because we have pressed the hem into shape already, so the crease we made will help guide the fabric into its new position.
Sew into place, being careful to remove your pins as you sew. Give your jeans a final press once you have sewn the hem into place.
Being able to put a patch onto jeans, or any garment, is a really handy and quick repair technique to know.
What you will need
Measure out how big you need to make your patch. As a rule of thumb, always ensure your patch covers 2cm past where the tears/hole ends.
Take the measurements from step 1, add 1cm seam allowance around the edges and then cut your patch. It’s best to use a fabric that is of similar weight to your jeans (this applies to any garment you are patching) but really, you can choose whatever fabric you like. On the back/reverse side of your fabric, take your measuring tape and chalk/pin 2cm in from the edge all around the patch.
Take your patch to the ironing board, fold up the seam edge to meet your chalk lines/pins and press down. Repeat this for all 4 sides of the patch. This will give you a really crisp edge to sew along when sewing your patch to your jeans.
Pin your patch to your jeans. Depending on where your hole is, you may need to open up one of the side seams on your jeans to make it easier for you to sew your patch on. If so, open up your seam, once you have sewn your patch in, re-sew the seam. Place your pins in the 4 corners of the patch. If you feel you need more pins, then that’s fine. It’s totally up to you.
Sew in your patch, being careful to remove the pins as you sew. Feel free to use a contrast colour thread for top stitching.
You may be familiar with sashiko mending as it has become a really popular mending technique over the last few years.
Sashiko is usually dated to the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867), during this time Japan closed its borders to trade and travel, and the common classes were forbidden from wearing certain fabrics and restricted to wearing certain colours. They had to make their own cloth on home looms from hemp which was grown locally, then dyed indigo. Cream thread was used to do the sashiko stitching to contrast against the dark indigo background when sewing at night. Three layers of fabric would be sewn together, using the sashiko stitch to sew them together, this method would trap heat into the garment which would be welcome in the harsh winters in rural Japan, and it also meant the garment or item would be easy to patch and repair as it aged.
Sashiko stitching works really well on denim, but it can really be used on any fabric that has a good weight and structure to it. Here’s a simple guide for how to do a basic sashiko stitch.
What you will need –
Take your fabric, and chalk out lines approx. 1cm apart horizontally, then repeat vertically to create a grid. This will be your guide for stitching.
Thread your needle, tying a knot in the end to secure the thread. Push your needle through from the back to the front of the fabric at the bottom of the fabric grid. Make your stitch half the length of the 1cm stitch line, so 0.5cm. Follow the line up using 0.5cm stitch length and spacing your stitches so they are 0.5cm apart. Repeat this along the next vertical line but stagger the stitch so it’s 0.5cm higher than the one you have just done, then for the next row have it in line with the first and so on. Staggering the stitches like this will give us a really nice evenly spaced pattern at the end.
Now we are going to do the exact same stitches but running horizontally. We will create tiny little crosses on the fabric. Repeat technique until all the stitches are turned into little crosses. And that is it! It’s really as simple as that. You can keep going, making diagonal stitches and turn your crosses into stars if you like.
You are now ready to do some sashiko repairs on your own garments. If you are mending your jeans, I find it easier to unpick one seam of my jeans so that I can get in and out of the fabric more easily. Once you have done the sashiko repair, you can then sew the seam back up, or get creative!
Fashion Revolution Week is the time when we come together as a global community to create a better fashion industry. It centers around the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more on April 24, 2013.
This year, as we marked eight years since the tragedy, Fashion Revolution Week focused on the interconnectedness of human rights and the rights of nature. Our campaign in the USA amplified unheard voices across the fashion supply chain and harnessed the creativity of our community to explore innovative and interconnected solutions.
Below, get a glimpse at our over 20 events bringing together 67 makers, doers, and changemakers within the field, delving into topics of land, water and air; ownership; workers; nature; gender; education; and what we can all do to be moved toward action for a better fashion future. As well, our volunteer network of Regional Coordinators, City Leads, and Student Ambassadors brought the fashion revolution to life in new and unique ways in their communities, helping the movement grow throughout the United States.
Monday, April 19: Land, Air, and Water
Hashtag Revolt: Through our global coordinated effort to infiltrate the #hashtags of many #fastfashion brands, the #hashtagrevolt campaign attracted over 500 posts across social media channels. We’re grateful to our partner organizations and industry leaders that helped us to reach citizens outside of the sustainable fashion echo chamber, including @Greenpeace, @FairTradeCertified (our co-branded partner!), @chicksforclimate, @ecoage, @canopyplanet, @marinatestino, @amandahearst, @stand.earth, What the Hack (who launched a hack-a-thon to amplify these efforts) and many others! Fashion Revolution USA’s messaging successfully disrupted the fast fashion brands’ hashtag feeds on April 19th, sparking international curiosity among concerned citizens.
Environmental Racism and the Fashion Industry: Laura Diez from Ecochic Podcast helped us tackle the topic of #EnvironmentalRacism in the fashion industry and how it shows up in the USA. With race being the top predictor of a person living near contaminated soil, air, or water; she described some of the environmental injustices that occur in BIPOC communities, in practice and policy. She covered racism, redlining, Superfund sites, and what legal tools exist to combat these injustices. This conversation highlights how pollution and destruction of land, water, and air by the fashion industry negatively impact BIPOC communities here in America and brought awareness to how individuals can push for policy and industry changes.
Challenging Fashion’s Relationship with Land, Air, and Water: We kicked off Fashion Revolution Week with a deep discussion on fashion’s relationship with land, air, and water highlighting a cross sector of BIPOC thought leaders from around the globe. The conversation covered how our current western-centered worldview sees nature only as a resource, rather than an equal, and how fashion has been used as a means to erase cultures and traditions of people of color for centuries. Reparations are needed in the fashion industry to bring more womxn and BIPOC individuals to the table, bringing them into positions of leadership and slowing down the fashion industry as a whole to be in mutual relationship and respect with land, air, and water.
Tuesday, April 20: Ownership
Access & Ownership of Sustainable Fashion: Maya and Mica Caine, co-founders of Mive, discussed the roots of regenerative and sustainable practices in fashion and who has access to sustainable fashion. They highlighted how the “sustainable fashion” movement has been co-opted and rebranded, although the roots of regenerative and sustainable practices have been practiced by Indigenous peoples and communities of color for generations. Maya and Mica talked about pushing the fashion industry to consider ways to go beyond tokenism when practicing representation, bringing in more BIPOC individuals in leadership positions, highlighting designers, and making fashion more accessible for everyone. A notable quote from their IG Live conversation: ‘“Marketing is not an education.”
Who Owns Textile Waste?: Tara St. James, designer and consultant; Camille Tagle, co-founder and creative director of Fabscrap; Liz Ricketts, co-founder of The OR Foundation; and Chloe Assam, designer, researcher, community organizer and manager of Ghana Operations for The OR Foundation joined the Re:Sourced Fashion club on Clubhouse to talk about ownership of textile waste. Notably, Liz asked a poignant question related to retailer take-back programs and their realistic value: “Who has the right to profit from this waste?” Moderators also discussed the need for local and global policy change to tackle the issue of textile waste and also the regulation of the secondhand clothing trade, with Camille citing the opportunities that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies present.
Cultural Appropriation and the Fashion Industry: In an industry inspired by nature, culture, and the world around us, fashion walks a fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation. This visually focused session brought together diverse perspectives, including an academic, historian, activist, designer, and researcher, to take on the nuances of Cultural Appropriation in Fashion. Eugenia Paulicelli focused on the importance of fashion studies programs in including more cultural awareness and understanding of these intricacies, while Darnell Jamal Lisby showcased the balances designers have made between adoptive and permissive appropriation. Regardless of the inspiration or origins of a design, Brenda Equihua, a designer who balances her own creative process and bringing in cultural honor to her work, spoke to the intentionality of the process. “Intention means you take the time. The [fashion] industry currently isn’t set up for that.” Manpreet Kaur Kalra, an educator and activist, emphasized the need for understanding who holds the power and benefits most from the work, including who profits, what stories are told about the specific culture, and how we can honor the artisan and culture as the true original designer.
Wednesday, April 21: Workers
Ethical Narratives in the Fashion Industry: Manpreet Kaur Kalra, educator and podcaster at Art of Citizenry, and Joy McBrien, founder of Fair Trade brand Fair Anita, explored what it means to decolonize storytelling, practicing informed consent in crafting a narrative, and the power dynamics that we don’t consider in telling someone else’s story – even with good intentions. They discussed the power imbalances between the global north and the global south, how continually telling stories of others’ trauma perpetuates a single narrative and furthers the othering of our relationships with other cultures. Ultimately, your story is the only one that you own, and when you are telling someone else’s story, consider the power and privilege of having control over the narrative you’re sharing, ask how someone else wants their story shared, and center the maker as an individual, outside of their pain and trauma.
Mass Translation Posters: In partnership with Gabrielle Vazquez, Fashion Revolution USA’s NYC City Lead, with support from Alessandra Brescia and other creatives, our Instagram channel debuted a new mass translation project of our #IMadeYourClothes campaign into four languages: Kapampangan, Quechua, Catalan and Taíno. To learn more about the fashion revolution efforts in the countries where these languages are predominantly spoken, visit the webpages of our global teams in the Philippines, Colombia, Peru and Spain.
State of Play: Garment Worker Protections in the United States: To raise awareness around policy SB62 and the exploitation of garment workers in Los Angeles, Fashion Revolution USA hosted an informative panel featuring Sen. María Elena Durazo, Dr. Elizabeth Segran, Ayesha Barenblat, Marissa Nuncio, Sarah Ditty, and Santos Say Velasquez, a Los Angeles-based garment worker. Panelists discussed the importance of a holistic approach to regulating accountability in the fashion industry, particularly garment workers’ rights, and a solution that involves legislation, enforcement, advocacy, and community. Please sign the petition here, share our blog post, and join a virtual letter-writing event to get involved and support progress. In addition, brands/manufacturers/suppliers can support #SB62 by endorsing here.
Thursday, April 22: Nature
Rights of Nature Q&A: Kelly Camille Holmes of Native Max Magazine and Norma Baker-Flying Horse, native fashion designer, led a conversation on the relationship of Indengious people to the land, air, and water, highlighting traditions and stories of their peoples. They dove into the history of how the colonization of Indigenous peoples has negatively impacted their communities and erased their traditions, forcing them to assimilate away from traditional language, dress, and many elements of their cultures. As we begin to recognize the invaluable relationships with nature and the land that Indigenous peoples have always practiced, how can we center their voices as leaders in the movement and create an intersectional conversation that understands that much of the wisdom and knowledge we seek to create necessary change in the fashion industry and beyond has been othered and erased by colonizers for centuries?
Fashion Revolution Week Classroom: Regenerating Local Communities, Economies and, Environments: Fashion Revolution USA collaborated with Harvard Alumni for Fashion, Luxury, and Retail (FL&R) to create a unique classroom experience for Fashion Revolution Week. In this classroom, FL&R President Timothy Parent invited a diverse group of people, including Amy Hall, Gisselle Jimenez and Mitchell Harrison working on regenerative systems from a variety of perspectives who illustrated how we can simultaneously protect and create positive outputs for local people, economies and environments. By recognizing the intersectional solutions that exist with a regenerative framework, panelists empowered the audience to create positive outcomes for previously marginalized and exploited communities with a new vision for the fashion industry. This collaborative classroom was guided and supported with the help of Kelly Peaks (FRUSA) and Gabby Vasquez (FRUSA, The New School).
#BehindtheSeams: Four new brands joined Fashion Revolution USA for a continuation of our #BehindtheSeams series, this year debuted as Instagram Reels. Victoria Island-based Ecologyst, Detroit-based ISAIC, and Seattle-based Sassafras and Prairie Underground gave our digital audiences a behind-the-scenes look at their factories, opening up their doors by offering a transparent look at their production and process, and sharing #WhoMadeMyClothes. Many thanks to our Regional Coordinator and City Lead volunteers Alessandra Brescia, Camilla Sampson, Karen Hartman, and Olivia Gregg for bringing these features to life!
Friday, April 23: Gender
#DopeMenSew: Sewist, mens DIY designer and creator, Scorpio, of @sinsofmany joined Fashion Revolution USA for an IG Live to discuss gender roles in sewing, the #DopeMenSew community, lack of accessibility of pattern materials for men and many other subjects. “We’re programmed to think of fashion being one way,” said Scorpio, talking about the underrepresentation of men in the sewing community and lack of size inclusivity in the fashion industry. Scorpio also shed light on the powerful connections making your own clothing can foster, as well as recommended the Sew It! Academy and folks like Norris Dantá Ford, Mimi G, Michael Gardner, Prep Curry, and many others to learn from and follow. Get involved with Dope Men Sew on Instagram by using #DopeMenSew.
Fashion is a Feminist Issue: Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, consultant at Tabii Just Strategies and deputy executive director of programming at Women’s March; Tameka Peoples, founder and director of operations at Seed2Shirt; Rosalinda Cruz, founder and chief experience officer of The Asor Collective; and moderator Whitney Bauck, freelance journalist, dove into the interconnected topics of gender issues, racial equity and agricultural systems within and across fashion’s supply chains. Panelists discussed the similarities of this work to revolutionize, or rebuild, the way brands and citizens consider these many topics to the work being done in the climate justice space. Equity, land access, representation and systemic change are at the heart of what’s needed to advance women’s agency from farmer to manufacturer to end consumer, especially that of Black, Brown, Indigenous and other women of color who have been historically and systematically disenfranchised in the fashion industry.
Saturday, April 24: Action
From Collective Action to Connected Action: Unleashing Tech for Good: This Clubhouse conversation, hosted by the Humankind Action Lounge, explored various stakeholders’ experiences of navigating the abrupt stop in fashion due to the pandemic and the importance of leveraging technology and community to achieve targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moderated by Elizabeth Cabral, speakers included Jennifer Ewah, Jessica Turco, Mackenzie Mock, and Julia Perry. Together, they identified the importance of each other’s work and how collective and connected support and action are vital to driving change within the fashion industry.
Fashion Revolution Classroom: Financing Fashion: Amisha Parekh’s interactive class provided a foundational understanding of Sustainable Investment (SI) the types of SI including Exclusionary Screening, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Integration, and Thematic/Impact Investing, as well as defining Materiality Assessment, and how “values” (like human rights and environmental protection) are now being “valued” within investment portfolios. She explained that ESG investing has grown from $13T in 2012 to ~ $38T in 2020 and how the landscape is changing. Investors are now thinking more about long-term investments and how risk (such as an oil spill) affects a company’s value. New policies are being set in the EU to combat greenwashing and making it mandatory for public companies to disclose how they are contributing to environmental objectives. The outlook: progress is being made, especially in the EU.
Thrift Tips: Four thrifting experts–@the.thrifted.gay, @cakeplussize, @dinasdays and @thriftinginthecity_–joined Fashion Revolution USA to share a look at thrifting dos and don’ts, tuning in from Chicago, Minneapolis, Akron and Detroit respectively. Watch part one and part two of this takeover.
Sunday, April 25: Education
Around the World with Fashion Revolution: Shannon Welch, Fashion Revolution USA’s director of strategic initiatives and creative partnerships, joined Fashion Revolution for a round-robin look at the week’s events around the world. Co-presenters included Hadeel Osman, country coordinator of FR Sudan; Aigerim Akenova, country coordinator of FR Kazakhstan; Kamonnart Ongwandee, country coordinator of FR Thailand; Raina Rafie, country coordinator of FR Egypt; Salome Areais, country coordinator of FR Portugal; and Christian Stefanoni, communications lead for FR Mexico.
Made Incubator: The United State of Fashion II: The opening of The United State of Fashion II was a profound event with keynote speakers from different sectors of the fashion and beauty industry. Highlighting folks including a celebrity stylist to a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, panelists shared more about the fashion and business community’s role in addressing sustainable practices, responsible manufacturing, education gaps, economic and racial inequalities in the fashion and beauty industry, and barriers to opportunity for all. Hearing Ted Gibson and Jason Backe speak about the pain points of the beauty industry gave the audience a clear understanding of the environmental impact of the beauty and hair industry as a whole. We look forward to providing more digital knowledge and inclusion with industry stakeholders that make bold changes in this industry.
Student Ambassadors Takeover: Kelly Peaks, one of Fashion Revolution USA’s Student Ambassador Coordinators, spoke to five current ambassadors about their experiences in our student ambassador program. The conversations touched on their specific interests on issues within the fashion industry such as policy, circularity, shopping second hand, environmental issues, and more. Peaks also asked each student ambassador and the live, digital audience trivia question related to various issues surrounding the fashion industry, such as garment workers’ rights, clothing waste, and GHG emissions from clothing production. Many thanks to students Hannah Griffee, Joanne Onasi, Eva Bergloff, Ella Charnizon and Tess Stroh for participating!
This year, our Regional Coordinators, City Leads and Student Ambassadors brought the Fashion Revolution to life in new and unique ways across the United States. From clothing swaps to local sustainable clothing guides and much more, we’re thankful for the incredible work and efforts of our volunteer network to localize the brighter fashion future in their communities.
A hearty thank you to David W. Schropfer, CEO at The Safe, and DIY CyberGuy for helping facilitate a seamless virtual event experience with our sponsored Zoom account. We couldn’t have done it without you!
This is a guest blog post by Nicole K, CEO of Storey, an automated platform for managing your wardrobe.
The #LovedClothesLast campaign really resonates with me. I have a lot of clothes that I love, and which I’ve had for a really long time – some might say too long – but I’m starting to feel less guilty about holding onto them, especially as they have usually been pre-loved by someone else.
One example is my wedding dress. I purchased it second-hand almost by chance. I was browsing Facebook and saw a wedding photo of a bride looking completely magnificent in a Lihi Hod gown (which normally sells for tens of thousands) and fell in love. She looked cool-girl chic with gelled-back hair, and the dress anchored everything with a perfect Audrey Hepburn vibe.
I messaged her on the off-chance she might part with the dress, and luckily she was open to my offer – the only snag was that she lived all the way in Israel. But we sent messages back and forth for a few weeks and figured out a way to ship the dress, and soon I was wearing my preloved – and affordable – designer masterpiece down the aisle, adding slightly different styling for my English countryside wedding.
It’s experiences like this that really inspired me to create Storey. The concept of cherished items changing multiple hands really sits at the heart of it. And it’s reflected in the name, which is a play on being a place to store your items, as well as telling their story, helping people to negotiate resale while knowing not just the retail value but also the personal value of the item.
The average piece of clothing loses monetary value as soon as someone brings it home, but there are those pieces that are special enough to be treated with care no matter how many owners they’ve had. Here are some of our members telling their favourite wardrobe stories, and how they came to love them.
“My baby Prada bag! I bought this bag at the very first Prada store, in Milan when I was 16 and travelling abroad in Italy with my family. I brought this bag to prom in high school, and to every formal event, since. It’s such a great way to add a pop of colour to a neutral look. I saw an influencer I follow with a similar bag attached a chain strap to hers, to bring the bag to today and make it more wearable. I did the same. I love how it now feels very of-the-moment, but I’ve had it for over a decade. ”
“I love my denim jacket! I was on the hunt for a perfectly oversized, vintage (or vintage-inspired) jacket with ample pockets to no avail. One day I was visiting my parents and came across a well-worn, soft, light denim gap jacket in their hall closet. My mom was like, ‘oh wow, I haven’t worn that in 25 years,’ and let me have it. It’s a staple in my wardrobe now.”
“I bought this vintage shoulder purse off Depop. This was one of my favourite purchases, because I wear it almost every time I go out. It’s so easy to wear this purse with any outfit because it’s so neutral and classic. This purse is super on-trend, it is a cream, natural colour, the exterior is a canvas-like fabric with leather details, and a little bit of hardware.”
“One Sunday, I came across a strange vintage T-shirt that I instantly liked, and later obsessed over. With seemingly MS-paint style artwork depicting the Sun and four planets from our Solar System, the piece appeared handmade as a promotional item for some event in the ’90s.
What was it? Why was it? Would I ever know? As the fabric of the shirt starts to tissue and hole, its origin remains a mystery—however, its legacy will live on in a sci-fi novel I’m writing where this strange, old piece of clothing is the key to everything.”
“When I was 17, my dad bought me a Lucky Brand denim jacket for Christmas. To this day, it’s one of my favourite pieces that I’ve ever owned. Not only because it came from someone special, but also because of its ability to elevate any outfit I put together. No matter what combination I have on underneath (dress, jeans and a t-shirt, or sweats), the dark wash piece with clover embossed buttons unlocks a confidence within myself like nothing else in my wardrobe. I like to think that that’s what my dad had in mind when he purchased it, but it could also be because he was tired of me ‘borrowing’ his Lucky jacket.”
A ruhák javítása által spórolhatunk, miközben kreatív tevékenységet folytatunk, sőt, radikális lépést teszünk a tömeggyártás és a nem minőségi ruhakereskedelem korszakában a valóban fenntartható divat felé. Az alábbiakban a Nylon cikke nyomán hívjuk fel a figyelmet a ruhajavítás fontosságára, egyúttal felszólítjuk a fast fashion vállalatokat, hogy tegyenek ők is lépéseket ezzel kapcsolatban!
Lindsay Rose Medoff, a Suay Sew Shop ügyvezető igazgatója, ruhafelújító, a Los Angeles folyó egyik kanyarulatának mentén telepedett le. Elnézést kér, ha egy vérző szívű aktivistának tűnik; ez csak azért van, mert lelkesen elkötelezett aziránt, amit csinál. A Suay, mondja, több, mint egy címke vagy egy stílusos divatház. Ez nemcsak „egy közösségi újrafelhasználási kultúrát teremt”, hanem igyekszik szabványossá tenni a ruhák javítását. Miközben a fenntarthatóság a „tudatos fogyasztás” szlogent hangoztatva adja el termékeit, „számos módon elitista” eszközökkel, a ruhajavítás ősrégi művészete nem követel többet, mint a tű, cérna és akarat, véli Medoff. Amit ők csinálnak, az a ruhák élettartamának meghosszabbítására és a felesleges textilek hulladéklerakókon kívül tartására alkalmas módszer, egyúttal pedig a fenntarthatság elérhetővé tétele.
Az olyan eljárások, mint a stoppolás és a foltozás, valaha a háztartásbeliek vérében volt, mára azonban az eldobható divat áldozatává vált, hiszen olcsóbb cserélni, mint megjavítani. A vásárlók 60%-kal több ruhát vásárolnak és fele annyi ideig használják a megvett divatcikkeket, mint 15 évvel ezelőtt. Ennek eredményeképpen a textilhulladék problémája elburjánzott: csak 2018-ban az USA-ban mintegy 17 millió tonna ruhát, cipőt és háztartási textilhulladékot dobtak ki az amerikai Környezetvédelmi Hivatal szerint. Ez a mennyiségű hulladék több, mint 775 000 db Szabadság-szobrot tenne ki.
Medoff és csapata hetente több ezer font súlyú kiselejtezett textilt gyűjt össze újrafelhasználásra vagy újrahasznosításra. A ruhajavítás iránt jelentősen megnőtt az érdeklődés Amerikában, kiváltképpen pandémia alatt. Múlt év vége felé Medoff elhatározta, hogy a szombatok a Suaynál „Mentsd meg szombat”-ok lesznek. 10:30 és 15:30 között maszkos vásárlók formálnak sort törődést igénylő ruháikkal: lyukas pulóver, ruha elromlott cipzárral, farmernadrág szellősre kopott ágyékkal…
A Suay árai 10 és 40 dollár között vannak, a javításhoz szükséges idő szerint beárazva, illetve belefoglalva azt a pénzügyi alapot, mely támogatja a Los Angeles-i ruhaipari munkásokat, akik gyakran vannak túlterhelve és alulfizetve. Medoff 8 fős csapata többszáz ruhajavítást végez el minden héten és ez olykor megkétszereződik.
„Azt gondolom, hogy előbb-utóbb az emberek rájönnek majd, hogy nincs szükségük egy nagyvállalatra, aki a hősük lehet a fentarthatóságban; nem szükséges vásárolniuk egy újrahasznosított műanyagpalackokból készült dzsekit, hogy részt vehessenek a fenntarthatóság előre mozdításában. Saját maguk hősei lehetnek azzal, hogy megjavítják a saját cuccaikat.” – nyilatkozta.
A ruhajavtás/foltozás olyan régi, mint a ruha maga, mondja Kate Sekules divattörténész, ruhajavítást oktató tanár és a Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto könyv szerzője (nem került kiadásra magyar nyelven – a szerk). A legelső emberek állati bőrökből készült ruházatot viseltek; az ókori Egyiptomban 3-4-szer javították meg a textileket, mielőtt azt valaki sírjába tették balzsamozó rongyként; a EDO korszakban a japánok használták a „little stabs” hímzést, hogy megerősítsék a házilag szőtt textíliákat. (Sashiko a hímzés neve, nagyon látványos, viszonylag gyorsan, kevés varrástudással is elkészíthető, lsd. „little stabs” – a szerk.) A dolgozó emberek évszázadokon át rengeteg mindent kitaláltak, ami meghosszabbította a ruháik életét, hiszen a textilek „rendkívül értékesek voltak és érdemes volt azokat megőrizni” – egészíti ki Sekules.
Sekules szerint a fast fashion termékeket is megéri megjavítani, ha szükséges! „Még ha az a darab a fast fashion vagy big fashion rendszerekben készült, emberek gyártották és erre emlékeznünk kell!” – figyelmeztet Sekules. „Nem tiszteljük azokat az embereket, akiket a fast fashion rabszolgává tett – ‘rabszolgává tenni’ egy erős, de nem mindig pontatlan kifejezés.”
Sekules egyben a „látható javítás”-nak ismert technika indítványozója. Ahelyett, hogy a javításokat elfednénk, amennyire csak lehetséges, a látható javítás a rehabilitáció helyére irányítja a figyelmet – afféle fashion statementként vagy politikai akcióként. „Ez egy seb és jelvény egyszerre; megmutatod a világnak azon szándékod, hogy megőrizd, fejleszd és egyedivé tedd a dolgaidat, egyszerre.” – magyarázza. A #MendMarch hashteget találta ki az Instagramon e célból, amivel egyre növekvő közösséget formált. Az emberek valóban mögötte állnak a kezdeményezésnek, hiszen nemcsak praktikus, de végtelenül kreatív és bárki tudja művelni a saját, egyedi módján. „Nincsenek szabályok. Nincsen jó módszer. És nincsen rossz módszer sem.” – állítja Sekules. (@invisblemend az Instagramon – ha követni szeretnéd a mozgalmat.)
Történelmi tények bizonyítják, hogy a javítás a szűkösség és a hiány idején általában lendületet kap. A ruhák javítása egy meditatív élmény lehet, ami „elzárja az elmét” a stressztől, az idegeskedéstől és az unalomtól. És amikor benne vagyunk a ruhajavításban, észrevesszük, hogy „ma ruházkodásunkkal való kapcsolatunkra is ráfér a javítás.”
Orsola de Castro szerint, aki a Fashion Revolution globális kreatív igazgatója és a Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can be a Radical Act könyv szerzője, az egymással való kapcsolatunknak is szüksége van foltozásra. „Nem bánunk egymással egyenlően,” mondja.
„Ha meg kellene győznünk a Z generációt a javítás hozzáadott értékéről, természetesen le kell lassítanunk a rendszert; azt kell mondanunk, hogy jobbat akarunk, nem többet,” vallja.
De Castro úgy hiszi, hogy a H&M-nek és Zarának is nagyobb felelőséget kellene vállalnia ruháik élettartamáért, a boltokban megfizethető áron elérhető javítás lehetőségét felkínálva. „Ez kellene legyen a modern visszavételi rendszer,” mondja. Már nem lenne szabad azt hangoztatni, hogy ’hozz be egy régi valamit és mi újra fogjuk hasznosítani akárhogyan, akármikor, de sose tudod meg, hogyan.’ Inkább így kellene a felhívásnak hangzania: ’hozz nekem valami szakadt, hibás holmit, és én meg fogom javítani.’”
Míg a körforgásos divat, amelynek nagy része a fiber-to-fiber újrahasznosítás innovációira összpontosít, nehezen értelmezhető az egyén számára, de Castro szerint a ruhák hosszabb forgalomban maradásának elősegítésért „mindannyian tehetünk”. A Waste & Resources Action Program szerint, ha csak három hónappal meghosszabbíthatjuk a ruhák élettartamát, az már 5–10%-os csökkenést eredményezhet a szén-, hulladék- és vízlábnyomokban.
„Vissza kell állítanunk a javítást kultúránk részévé” – zárja a gondolatmenetet Orsola De Castro.
Fordította: Sütő Annamária, forrás: Nylon.com, képek forrása: Nylon.com, Unsplash, Seamwork.com
El modelo de producción y consumo de la industria de la moda es responsable de que más de 900 mil toneladas de textil acaben en la basura cada año en España. Solo un 10% de este residuo llega a recuperarse, el resto se incinera provocando la emisión de gases contaminantes. Esto es consecuencia de la fast fashion, que ha provocado que al año se fabriquen 150.000 millones de prendas en todo el mundo y que compremos un 80% más de ropa que hace una década.
No hay mejor forma de gestionar el residuo que la prevención, en esta línea la frase de la fundadora de Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro, “La prenda más sostenible es la que ya tienes en el armario” refleja que la primera erre es la clave: reducir. Pero también otras erres son fundamentales, como Repensar (replantearnos a qué responden nuestras compras) y Reparar, el cuidado de nuestras prendas y sus arreglos son actos verdaderamente sostenibles.
La V edición del Maratón de reciclaje textil organizado por Altrapo Lab y La Casa Encendida, transformado a un formato virtual, ha tenido como objetivo impulsar la moda circular y acercarla al público de manera accesible y reivindicativa. Los días 13, 14 y 15 de noviembre de 2020 a través de los canales y redes sociales de las dos organizaciones quedó claro el mensaje: una moda con impacto positivo es posible y la prevención y sensibilización son fundamentales para conseguirlo.
Después de cuatro ediciones presenciales del Maratón generando en La Casa Encendida un espacio de encuentro con una atmósfera muy particular y plástica, esta edición online se presentaba como un reto. Pero también como una oportunidad de ganar alcance y profundidad en las propuestas con un programa que invitaba a la participación y a la reflexión.
En el centro de la programación, al igual que otros años, se ha desarrollado el espacio de creadoras. Una convocatoria dirigida a diseñadoras y estudiantes de moda que propone crear una prenda a partir de ropa en desuso en directo durante el evento. Este año, su proceso creativo se pudo seguir a través de entrevistas en Instagram live con los cinco proyectos seleccionados. Además de mostrar su proceso de creación, nos dieron a conocer las razones por las cuales trabajan en esta vertiente del diseño basado en la reutilización y los objetivos que hay detrás de sus prendas. Los cinco proyectos participantes fueron:
Lara Padilla, creadora multidisciplinar con una propuesta, La Sra.D, presenta un proyecto de moda Art Fashion que nace del proceso artesanal que comprende el diseño de la prenda, la confección y su acabado final a través de la pintura a mano.
Ayaloik, Sara Ayala y Andrea Loik, con un proyecto que pone en común el diseño zero-waste con las técnicas tradicionales japonesas de sashiko y boro, que se empleaban para parchear las prendas de algodón (boro) e unirlas con pequeñas puntadas.
Olmedam, Miguel Peñaranda, artista visual y diseñador de vestuario, con su proyecto Crítica de lo invisible – Los ojos que ya ven– se inspira en los plumíferos que tan de moda están desde hace unos años, utilizando ropa de desecho triturada para rellenar dicha prenda.
Ana Almenara, diseñadora de moda que finalizó su proyecto fin de carrera en la London College of Fashion con un estudio sobre la customización de ropa titulado “la customización como búsqueda de identidad del sujeto”.
Homesickness, Manuel Sánchez, Ana M.García, Magdalena Rodriguez y Daniel Mirás, estudiantes de gestión industrial de moda en la Universidad de la Coruña. Con su proyecto buscan generar un impacto positivo a través del diseño de un chubasquero confeccionado con tienda de campaña y con un compartimento trasero para recoger residuos encontrados en cualquier espacio natural.
El viernes 13 se inauguraba esta quinta edición con una entrevista a Orsola de Castro, diseñadora pionera en upcycling, líder de opinión en moda sostenible y co-fundadora de Fashion Revolution, una organización global con participación en más de 100 países alrededor del mundo que lucha por conseguir una moda transparente y sostenible. (250 visualizaciones)
Después de 4 años de evento nos parecía fundamental hablar sobre Cómo nuestra ropa se convierte en residuo a través de una mesa redonda con personas expertas. Analizando tres aspectos; cómo se ha acelerado la industria y nuestro consumo de moda en los últimos años, cómo se gestiona el residuo textil post-consumo y cómo podemos prevenir y reducir los efectos de la fast fashion. Para ello, el sábado por la tarde charlamos con Brenda Chávez, periodista e investigadora especializada en consumo, Cristina Salvador, fundadora y responsable de Recumadrid, entidad dedicada a la recogida de textil y Jessica Checa, miembro de Fashion Revolution Spain. (300 visualizaciones)
Durante el evento se realizaron dos talleres online de upcycling. Uno dedicado a confeccionar un bolso a partir de patrones y con tejidos en desuso. Y otro que planteaba tres enfoques diferentes de diseño de camisetas a través de tres técnicas de upcycling. Dentro de estas actividades que invitaban a la participación, también se realizó un Unescape Room, un juego de lógica con el reto de decodificar el sistema de la moda. Más de 400 personas siguieron estas actividades desde sus casas.
El domingo se cerraba esta edición del Maratón con los cinco proyectos protagonistas presentando sus prendas finales. Una oportunidad de expresar la importancia de las alternativas en diseño de moda, donde la reutilización otorga mayor valor a la prenda y transmite un mensaje de concienciación y sostenibilidad. Habiendo alcanzado en los directos realizados unas 12400 visualizaciones, se finalizó así esta edición con la sensación de haber cumplido las expectativas de una formato completamente nuevo. La creatividad, la experimentación y la participación han sido los principales motores de este encuentro que ha sido posible gracias a un firme compromiso con las iniciativas que impulsan la moda circular y el consumo transformador de ropa.
One morning I was walking with a friend of mine and we were discussing a birthday present which we were planning to buy for a friend. She asked “Why is it that sustainable fashion is always so expensive?” to which I answered: “Well it makes it possible for brands to actually pay their workers a living wage and to make sure they are working under safe conditions. People who buy sustainable fashion know that behind cheap clothing lies a production process characterised by unfair working conditions, wages and environmental ruin. They prefer buying pieces which are made under fair conditions even if it means they will have to pay more money. . It’s a question of priority.” But then I realised that this is not the case at all. In what way, then, should one envisage sustainable fashion and consumerism?
The term ‘ethical consumerism’ – the social component of ‘sustainable consumerism’ if you will – is illustrative of the systemic problem which is present in today’s society, namely that spending your money otherwise is enough in order to ‘change’ something. It defends the idea that when we buy sweaters made from recycled materials, jewellery made out of lab-grown diamonds or reusable coffee cups, companies will eventually give in to consumers’ pressure and that this will change the world for the better, i.e. that the planet will be saved and that (garment) workers will live in excellent conditions. In short, ethical consumerism claims that we can buy our way out of trouble. This, however, is nothing more and nothing less than an illusion. Change can’t directly come from people only buying sustainable products or clothes; apart from consuming, we also need activism and sytemic change.
Lack of regulation
Why? Because even though there are some changes in some countries where some brands manufacture their clothes there are still too many brands who haven’t lived up to their promises. Consuming more ‘ethically’ will not solve this problem. In her article The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer Elizabeth L. Cline (2020) points out that ‘What drives sweatshops is not a consumer demand for sweatshops. It is a lack of proper labour laws to protect garment workers and intense economic concentration that incentivizes the industry to drive down wages’. Us ‘consumers’ who give or don’t give priority to workers’ rights over cheap clothing will not solve the problem, but us ‘citizens’ raising our voices and holding brands accountable for the damage they inflict upon the people who work for them, can.
Apart from calling out brands and governments, there is another thing citizens can do which will not only benefit garment workers, but also ourselves and the planet. Consuming less. I wish I could say that garment workers only experience more pressure when the companies they work for organise sales but in the past decade or so one cannot speak of ‘summer sales’ or ‘winter sales’ anymore; rather, we live in a time of ‘permanent sales’. Think about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the mails you receive when brands start to notice that you haven’t shopped with them for more than a month. Sales are everywhere, all the time and this not only leads to garment workers experiencing even more pressure than usual, but also to people ‘buy[ing] things [they] don’t need, with money [they] don’t have to impress people [they] don’t like’, as Dave Ramsey says in his book The Total Money Makeover (2007). Not only is overconsumption causing the workforce to increasingly experience more pressure, it is also the expectation and possibility of orders being delivered within a day or two of purchase. Companies need larger inventories which contributes to garment workers having to work even harder and longer without being paid accordingly.
Explore your own wardrobe
It is time for us to look differently at what we already have and make the best out of that. It is time that we end the idea that consuming more will make us happy and will fulfil our needs. When we continuously accelerate the amount of clothes which we buy , the needs which we think we are fulfilling are not of a physical, biological nature but of a social nature, i.e. they are not essential for our survival but we buy them because we want to be cool, to be ourselves, to gain other people’s attention and even love. Indeed, the way in which we dress helps us build our identity but imagine how many ‘identities’ people would have if they would buy new clothes every single week because they want to keep up with so-called ‘trends’. Companies’ expensive marketing tactics blind us into believing that we constantly need new clothes. We shouldn’t see personalities as trends which can be ‘bought’ but see them as constructs, unique to every individual, and base the way in which we think of people on their actions, not on their purchases. Imagine how much money you could save by just a simple shift in mindset. Sustainable fashion is also about buying less, re-exploring your wardrobe, renting clothes, borrowing and mending. If you combine these different forms sustainable fashion does not necessarily have to be expensive.
“Citizens like you and I must call brands out and hold them accountable for how they treat our planet”
Less is now, also for our planet. In 2017 each Belgian used an equivalent of 6.6 global hectares to meet their needs whereas the earth’s capacity only lies at .82 global hectares per capita (Global Footprint Network et al. 1961-2017). According to Quantis (2016) the footwear and apparel industry are responsible for around 8.1% of global climate impacts. What’s more, ‘every second an equivalent of a truck full of textile is sent to landfill or to incinerators’, Tatiana De Wée, who is the coordinator for Fashion Revolution Belgium, points out in her opinion article for Knack (Ellen McArthur Foundation as cited in De Wée, 2019). It is no secret that clothing consumption has a devastating impact on the environment and that it is essential that we switch to a circular economy model. This shift is partly in the hands of companies but in order for them to really change, citizens like you and I must call them out and hold them accountable for how they treat our planet. The good news is that this is easier than you think. We live in an era where digital activism becomes increasingly important, not only because COVID-19 keeps us from going out on the streets but also because more and more brands are active on social media. To a large extent they rely on earned media, i.e. people’s comments, mentions and reviews of their brand as a way of advertising.
It is our job to use our social platforms to demand systemic social and environmental change in the fashion industry. Each year in the week of 24 April Fashion Revolution Week is organised to commemorate the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. It is a week in which people are asked to use hashtags such as #WhoMadeMyClothes and #WhatsInMyClothes to call on brands, but I encourage everyone to use these hashtags all year round, and to make digital activism a part of their lives, not only because it is easy but also because it is more powerful than one would think. Make sure to also sign petitions and send emails to brands – you can find templates for that on the Fashion Revolution website. Be part of leading the cultural shift towards a sustainable fashion system, take pride and above all, enjoy! Your voice counts!
De Wée, T. (2019, 8 november). “Hoe kan je roepen om armoede te bannen als je zelfs je eigen kledingarbeiders geen leefloon betaalt?” Knack Weekend. https://weekend.knack.be/lifestyle/mode/hoe-kan-je-roepen-om-armoede-te-bannen-als-je-zelfs-je-eigen-kledingarbeiders-geen-leefloon-betaalt/article-opinion-1529769.html?cookie_check=1612347407
Global Footprint Network, York University, & Footprint Data Foundation. (1961–2017). Open Data Platform [Dataset]. Global Footprint Network. https://data.footprintnetwork.org/#/countryTrends?cn=255&type=BCpc,EFCpc
Cline, E. (2020, 19 oktober). The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer. Atmos. https://atmos.earth/ethical-consumerism/
Quantis. (2018). Measuring Fashion: Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industry Study. https://quantis-intl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/measuringfashion_globalimpactstudy_full-report_quantis_cwf_2018a.pdf
Ramsey, D. (2007). The Total Money Makeover. Adfo Books.
 For more information, check Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2020: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/