At the beginning of this year, I read up on Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion Report, and was happy to see sustainability as a core priority for 2018. This idea was reflected in the conversations I had with attendees at this season’s Paris Fashion Week. Most agreed that sustainability and social responsibility needed to be at the forefront of fashion’s agenda.
Just a few seasons ago, I came across very few interviewees who were interested in sustainability, but this time, I noticed a difference: the people I spoke with were not only familiar with the subject, but they also believed it mattered.
Though not everyone said they participate in ethical shopping (yet), they did show an interest in the idea, and an aspiration to be a part of the change. To me, this is a promising first step, which I hope will lead to greater involvement in the future.
In one conversation with fashion designer Raeana, she admitted that she too, was guilty of what she calls “a waste build-up” in the world’s landfills through her own participation in fast fashion. But this realization has made her think about her own approach to design. Instead of designing seasonal collections, she now aspires to create long-term pieces that are timeless. She spoke about creating collections that evolve into each other, as if adding on to the story of the last. In her own shopping, she too, hopes to change her habits to make more meaningful purchases instead of impulsive ones, noting that establishing an emotional connection to our clothes makes us love and appreciate them more.
Raeana also noted that ‘woke’ fashion is getting more attention now because of one key factor: the millennials, who are more outspoken about social and political issues than the previous generation.
Indeed, the millennials I interviewed were making lifestyle choices that contributed to social impact: from choosing a vegan lifestyle to participating in the Women’s March, the millennial women I spoke with were no strangers to social issues.
Sara and Nikita are both models who walked during Paris Fashion Week. Both wanted to talk about diversity on the runway, decreasing waste in the fashion ecosystem, and the fact that women (including those who make our clothes) deserved equal pay. What’s more, they understood the connections between all three topics. These are the kind of women that give me hope that the fashion industry is ready to change.
Lupe Castro, a fashion writer, stylist, and blogger who has witnessed the industry evolve, said she is glad to see more and more designers implementing sustainable methods, though she prefers that they don’t “shout about it”. Rather, she enjoys when a brand can manage to maintain excellent design quality that retains beauty, while doing it ethically. Fashion is fashion, after all, and it is indeed important (and necessary) to create head-turning items that have appeal.
Even the attendees that couldn’t fully articulate why they think sustainability is important all agree that it should be a topic of conversation among small and big brands.
Do I believe more fashion consumers will participate in ethical and responsible shopping? We probably have not yet reached a tipping point, but I’m optimistic that the seeds we are planting will bear fruit. I think the industry is readier today than it was yesterday.
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*Banner Image via: Paris Fashion Week Online