Is Fashion’s Response to the Global Pandemic Its Lowest Moment?
For many in retail, this is a painful moment in history, but for others it’s existential. The idea that we’re protecting designers and stores and bailouts on this side of the world, but neglecting to provide support to garment factories and its workers on the other side of the world is unbalanced.
While the COVID-19 crisis is impacting almost everyone in society, the burden is clearly being felt most acutely on those most vulnerable; millions of garment workers face destitution with no social security safety net as Britain high street/fast fashion billionaires fail to honour contracts and abandon them.
Is this the time to signal an end to business as usual? Is fashion’s response to the global pandemic its lowest moment?
Fortunately, it’s an industry of amazing potential to be the new school for globalisation that is humane, united and serving a sustainable and equitable future, but just how do we arrive there? Can a greener, fairer fashion industry emerge from the crisis? What we can hope for from the fashion industry is a recovery that puts people and planet ahead of profits.
As many are now realising, people are having to get used to living with fewer possessions and travelling less, she said, as the virus disrupts global supply chains and transportation networks.
“It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favourites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful,” she said.
“And this is where I am hopeful for: another and better system to be put in place with more respect for human labour and conditions.”
While sections of the fashion industry already knew they could not continue on their current trajectory, it was inconceivable that brands could be forced to slow down, let alone stop production altogether.
It’s an unprecedented interruption of an industry that has relied on speeding from one season’s sales to the next. And it’s bringing with it a new sense of connectedness, responsibility and empathy.
To survive, sustainability must be economic.
Academics Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham’s new report, Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan, centres on the idea that the only way to ensure we cut carbon emissions and end the cycles of overproduction and waste is to imagine a whole new system that places the Earth’s needs before those of industrial growth. Prior to COVID-19 this might still have been considered necessary but not urgent, however, with every passing day in lockdown it beggars belief how anyone could challenge this crucial requirement and it’s actually beginning to look somewhat more achievable. “We propose planet before industry as a radical idea in which the health and survival of our planet Earth is given precedence over business interests,” they share.
“Once we realise that the current system is always going to be self-limiting as there are finite resources, putting Earth first is the only option,” states Fletcher, of the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Far from tinkering around the edges of the existing way of working, creating “sustainable” collections or clothing recycling schemes, Earth Logic attacks the very root of the problem: the existing economic model itself. This involves a shift from production to the maintenance, use and care of existing clothes. It means reducing the volume of clothes we produce, and in turn, the number of resources we are using. It means moving from globalised, tangled and unsafe supply chains to small production centres based around the needs and desires of local communities. “We need to find a role for industry scattered across communities,” says Fletcher, with multiple local hubs for people to be educated, to make and repair their clothes.
The important point to note, as Fletcher says: “It’s about trying not to look away when the going gets hard.” We are seeing that in times of real emergency, people’s behaviour has to change. Even pressing pause on fashion’s relentless cycle for a season (possibly two) will have a profound effect. Already, so much has changed. The cycle of fashion for fashion’s sake has been broken. We must use this time to rethink how this industry can be redesigned with respect for the planet and the health of the people who work in it.
“It’s like turning a kaleidoscope and seeing new patterns emerge,” says Tham. “There are so many possible patterns. Things can change very quickly when we have a new perspective. It is not impossible.”
This comes at a time when world leaders convened last week at this year’s G7 Summit in Biarritz and were joined by more than 20 fashion retailers and brands, including the owner of Gucci, Kering, H&M and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, for an important fashion moment – a global pact to fight the climate crisis and protect biodiversity and the oceans.
Image courtesy: Climate change activists during an Extinction Rebellion protest during London Fashion Week | Yui Mok/PA
It’s undeniable that the global fashion industry faces an unparalleled backlash from young people concerned that it is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. Left unchecked, the industry is set to account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
In fact, many are anticipating that next month’s London fashion week will be met with immense hostility from campaigners of Extinction Rebellion who want the event scrapped in the face of the climate emergency.
While we support calls for the fashion industry to take heed and up their efforts to lessen their environmental and social impact, we don’t believe cancelling fashion weeks is the answer. Championing craftsmanship, material provenance, design and innovation can be the solution if done in a meaningful way.
Case in point, Burberry’s move to release a capsule collection crafted from Econyl. A good start and one that they will hopefully build upon and move closer to fully adopting a circular model.
The Econyl capsule includes nine womenswear pieces and four pieces for men, all focussed on outerwear. The women’s collection features trench coats, longline jackets and parkas, plus a chic, yet practical, logo print backpack, with pieces ranging from £750 to £1190.
Econyl is the name of the fabric which is made by Aquafil (a global producer of synthetic fibres).
The company is tackling fashion’s pollution problem head-on by collecting post-consumer materials from our oceans and landfills, then regenerating this waste into one of the sturdiest and most versatile fabrics on the market. Econyl is leading the conversation in circular fashion by offering an infinitely recyclable fabric to some of the biggest fashion companies in the world.
We’ve Already Used Up All Of Earth’s Budgeted Resources For The Year
For real. No joke. We’ve already used up our allowance for natural resources – including water, soil, and clean air – for all of 2019 and it’s only the start of August. Scary times.
A new report by sustainability organisation Global Footprint Network shows that this year’s Earth Overshoot Day – the date when consumption for the year exceeds the Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources – is the earliest ever.
July 29 is Earth Overshoot Day for 2019.
At our current consumption rates, we would reportedly need 1.75 planets to produce enough to meet humanity’s needs, meaning we’re using resources almost twice as fast as we should. The study declares: “The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.”
Earth Overshoot Day has moved forward drastically over the last 40 years, moving two whole months in the last two decades alone.
Although we are currently able to overuse resources, Global Footprint Network founder Mathis Wackernagel states that humanity will eventually have to operate within the means of the Earth’s resources, with balance restored either by disaster or design.
“We have only got one Earth,” Wackernagel presses, “this is the ultimate defining context for human existence. We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences.”
The organisation is now pushing its #MoveTheDate campaign which aims to move Earth Overshoot Day back by five days each year, allowing “humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050”. The primary aim of the campaign is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with the study detailing that cutting CO2 by 50 per cent from fossil fuel burning would give humanity 93 more days yearly.
Image courtesy: Protesters in Parliament Square, London demanding change to climate actionvia | Twitter (@_HWright)
Things to Know About the Sustainable Fashion Forum
The Sustainable Fashion Forum is a two-day conference in Portland, Oregon, founded on the principals of discovery, education, and community and focused on sharing digital and tech-based solutions to help fashion designers, manufacturers, factories, and retailers to become leaders in sustainability, transparency, efficiency, supply chain optimization, waste reduction, speed-to-market, data utilization, marketing, e-commerce, and profitability.
The meet-up of changemakers looks to the future by fostering a thought-provoking dialogue about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do individually and collectively to improve them.
From a series of captivating panel discussions and thought-provoking keynote speakers between editors, designers, and thought-leaders, to a live fashion show and curated marketplace, the Sustainable Fashion Forum is a power-packed conference where an extraordinary community of curious minds gather together to educate, get inspired and connect with like-minded individuals with the belief that together, we can create positive change.
Key takeaways from this year’s conference back in April included:
* COLLABORATION AND COLLECTIVE IDEOLOGY WILL LEAD TO MORE IMPACTFUL SOLUTIONS AND CHANGES IN THE INDUSTRY. Increasing brands are beginning to open-course and share learnings, so the fashion industry can move forward together.
* SLOW FASHION LACKS DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AND IT’S HURTING ITS GROWTH. To dress sustainably and ethically should not be reserved for the minimalist few, but should be inclusive of all ages, sizes and racial and gender identities.
* CERTIFICATIONS ARE CONFUSING. Precisely why we’re working on simplifying this for you guys. It shouldn’t feel like you need to solve a cryptic puzzle in order to work out whether you purchasing a specific item is going to have a big environmental or social impact. We believe that you shouldn’t be the one that has to do the digging around to figure out whether a brand you love is sustainable and ethical.
As Whitney Bauck covers on Fashionista.com, “a one-size-fits-all ethical fashion certification will probably never exist, partly because not everyone agrees on what qualifies as ‘ethical.’ The good news is that there are a host of certifications out there that can help consumers get a sense for which brands meet certain standards, whether they relate to the toxicity of dyes, carbon emissions, fair pay for artisans or something else entirely.”
That’s why we’ve decided to remedy this and have begun working on a project that will make it simpler to identify the social and environmental credentials of a specific item of clothing or product. Stick with us on this journey!
British MPs have formed a sustainable fashion group known as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sustainable Clothing and Textiles.
Headed up by newly elected chair Anne Main MP, the group launched with an introductory meeting last week that was attended by retailers, and industry and recycling bodies.
Over the coming months, it will now be the APPG responsibility to analyse evidence from the industry and make recommendations to the government for action in the clothing and textiles sector.
Formed by MPs from all sides of the political spectrum, the APPG will examine the sustainability of the clothing and textiles industry, including supply chains, materials used and consumer behaviour. The creation of this group is timely as it follows the Government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s recent report titled ‘Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability’.
Anne Main MP, the newly elected Chair of the APPG said: “I am delighted to be voted in to chair this group and I hope we can help to shine a spotlight on this important topic. We need to have a proper debate about the trade-offs of using man-made materials instead of sustainable natural products and only by seeking evidence and asking difficult questions are we going to get there.
“We know that the current situation cannot continue and I was pleased to see that this was recognised by all the guests attending the meeting. Now is the time for constructive action to make the clothing and textiles industry more sustainable. The APPG will now look to take evidence from industry and others and will produce a report with recommendations for change.
“I would encourage all parts of the industry, from farmers to retailers to industry bodies to engage with the work of the APPG as we look to bring sustainability to this important issue.”
Trewin Restorick, CEO and founder of Hubbub, followed this by adding: “We are proud to be promoting this APPG and hope that the group’s work will complement and enhance our current fashion campaigns. Creating greater sustainability in the clothing and textiles industry is increasingly important and with the founding of this APPG we hope that government policy can be influenced to deliver a real step-change in how we think about what we wear.”
Over the coming months, the APPG will be exploring evidence from a wide base to inform recommendations to government for action in the clothing and textiles sector.
Let’s hope this will put the UK on course to begin introducing real measures that will truly hold big fast-fashion retailers accountable. Only then will we start to see real change happen, fast.
What is the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (or SCAP)?
The UK government-backed Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), as part of its goal to help over 200 high street fashion brands meet their environmental and corporate social responsibility ambitions, is a collaborative framework and voluntary commitment to deliver industry-led targets for reducing the use of resources in the clothing industry.
SCAP sits within WRAP, who is revolutionising the clothing industry, using collective action to minimise the environmental impact of our clothes. Their industry-led action plan delivers positive environmental and economic outcomes to organisations, by reducing carbon, water and waste through the SCAP 2020 Commitment.
The latest to join is textile recycling enterprise Newlife, who has been running its clothing recycling operation for more than 20 years, turning surplus high street fashion stock including clothes, shoes and handbags into equipment for thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged children across the UK.
Sheila Brown OBE explained: “Becoming a member of SCAP will enable us to further enhance the way we work with our partners and continue to improve the environmental product management service we provide.”
WRAP encourages all organisations, whether large or small, to consider how they can use our research to reduce their exposure to resource risk or scarcity, discover new revenue streams and gain reputational benefits from reducing their environmental impact.
The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan Knowledge Hub showcases new initiatives, processes and technologies that can be adopted to reduce the environmental impact of clothing. From raw materials through to final disposal, learn how you can make a difference and reduce your environmental impact.
Prada Reinvents Its Iconic Nylon Bag To Be Eco-Friendly
Prada re-launches its cult nylon bag in recycled ocean plastic.
As dialogue around sustainability and ethical responsibility move to the forefront of the fashion industry, more brands are working hard to implement positive, lasting change, and this now includes luxury Italian fashion house, Prada.
The refreshing decision to launch a pioneering new project which stays true to their iconic aesthetic whilst reflecting the changing demands of both their customers and our physical environment, Prada is ushering in the kind of change that needs to happen across all sectors of the fashion industry, including luxury.
The launch of Re-Nylon follows the Italian fashion brand’s decision back in May to no longer use fur. The new line is an eco-friendly collection of their iconic bag silhouettes, this time executed in progressive new nylon, Econyl, a 100% regenerated fibre from fishnets and another nylon excess.
The Prada Re-Nylon collection reintroduces six classic styles for men and women: the belt bag, the shoulder bag, a tote, duffle, and two Prada backpacks. The entire collection is produced from environmentally-friendly materials and features a pretty cool interpretation of the signature triangular Prada logo we all know.
“Our ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Marketing and Communications. “This project highlights our continued efforts towards promoting responsible business. This collection will allow us to make our contribution and create products without using new resources.”
As part of the launch, the brand will also showcase the cutting-edge processes behind the Re-Nylon through “What We Carry,” a series of videos in partnership with National Geographic. Of the five episodes, each will take the viewer through each material that makes up Econyl yarn, revealing the inner workings of the factories and facilities that produce this state-of-the-art, planet-loving fabric.
In the video above, Prada’s reporter Bonnie Wright and National Geographic Explorer’s Asher Jay show us one of the materials that make up Econyl.
Thankfully, this is not simply a token effort in order to be seen to be conscious, as Prada has revealed that their ultimate goal is to convert all of their virgin nylon into this regenerated nylon by 2021.
A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the Prada Re-Nylon capsule will be donated to a project related to environmental sustainability.
Want to understand this topic more? Read up on eco-plastics here.
Earlier this month, the French government announced that they will ban the destruction of unsold merchandise, including clothing, footwear and accessories, in the next four years.
French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced a ban on the destruction of unused product, citing that each year in France 650 million euros worth of new, unsold merchandise is being either thrown away or burned in France every year. Aiming to implement this within the next four years, the regulations will mean that brands will be discouraged from overproducing; made to recycle or reuse any materials unsold.
In fashion, the incineration of garments has been a prominent topic ever since Burberry admitted to burning over £28 million of stock in an attempt to protect brand image and exclusivity, as well as Amazon exposed to incinerating returned or unsold consumer items for reasons relating to storage.
It is inspiring to see the French government take a stand on such corporate behaviour. Regulations of this kind are necessary not only to prevent the destruction of new and perfect condition clothes, but they also inhibit brands from overproducing and thus preventing garments from ending up in a landfill.
According to the Environmental Audit Committee, fashion houses reportedly get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes annually. With Paris being the world’s fashion capital, it is clear this new legislation will help fashion’s waste problem and ultimately lead to less product being sent to the landfills which contribute to climate change. Here’s hoping that the rest of the fashion capitals follow suit.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see other governments wake up and take similar action around the fashion industry and its contribution to waste and the implications this has on the planet.
UK Ministers Slammed for Rejecting 1p ‘Fast Fashion’ Tax
Shock. Disappointment. Sadness. Just a few of the reactions felt across the United Kingdom this week after ministers rejected all recommendations from a cross-political committee to improve the fashion industry’s social and ecological impact, including a proposed one-penny charge per garment that would be used to fund a national clothing-recycling scheme.
Earlier this year the Environmental Audit Committee, led by labour MP Mary Creagh, had called on the Government to make fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste they create. The proposed one-penny producer responsibility charge on each item of clothing could have paid for better clothing collection and recycling.
The Environmental Cost of Our Clothes
Essentially, the report outlined that the way we make, use and throw away our clothes is unsustainable. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution. Synthetic fibres are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish.
On top of that, we buy more clothes per person in the UK than in any other country in Europe. An overabundance of second-hand clothing swamping the market is depressing prices for used textiles and what can’t be sold is shredded and turned into insulation and mattress stuffing.
Worse still, around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year, sent to landfill or incinerators. Less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life. Meanwhile, retailers are burning new unsold stock merely to preserve their brand.
The Social Cost of Our Clothes
Beyond the environmental impact, there’s also the social cost of our clothing to think about, too. Some of the biggest retailers have ‘chased the cheap needle around the planet’, moving production to countries with low pay, little trade union representation and weak environmental protection. In many of these countries, poverty pay and conditions are standard for garment workers, most of whom are women.
That’s before you even admit the possibility of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and within the garment supply chain. Fast fashions’ overproduction and overconsumption of clothing is based on the globalisation of indifference towards these workers.
Forced labour is used to pick cotton in two of the world’s biggest cotton producing countries, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. While labour exploitation is also shockingly taking place in the UK. In times gone by, ‘Made in the UK’ would stand for craftsmanship and quality, along with the very basics of workers being paid at least the minimum wage. Yet, the report has revealed that it’s an open secret that some garment factories in places like Leicester are not paying the minimum wage.
Of course, this needs to stop. However, if the risk of being caught is low, then the incentive to cut corners is high. The same fast fashion retailers sourcing from Leicester are also selling clothes so cheaply that they are being treated as single-use items.
These findings should have been reason enough to move forward, but unfortunately, the government has rejected the proposed ‘fast fashion tax’ and other initiatives. Instead, ministers said they have developed their own initiatives – some based on voluntary efforts by the industry.
In response, committee chairman Mary Creagh said: ‘Fashion producers should be forced to clear up the mountains of waste they create. The Government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment … despite having just committed to net zero emission targets.’
Image courtesy: Pinterest
The Labour MP added: ‘The Government is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we send 300,000 tons of clothes a year to incineration or landfill. Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the Earth.’
Online retailers selling dresses for £5 or less have helped fuel the idea that clothes are disposable. At the same time, much of the fast fashion is made from plastic which sheds billions of polluting particles into the seas when they are washed.
The MPs said a 1p charge could raise £35million a year to deal with waste. They also called for a legal ban on incinerating unsold stock or sending it to be buried in landfill. This too was rejected by the Government, which wants the industry to do more to use waste textiles.
We need a new economic model for fashion as business as usual no longer works. The Government should change the law to require companies to perform due diligence checks across their supply chains.
Clearly, the government needs to provide clear economic incentives for retailers to do the right thing as they cannot be relied on to do so voluntarily.
Moreover, YouGov data shows that 39 per cent of Brits think fashion companies should pay for the costs of recycling old clothes, as opposed to the government (eight per cent) or consumers (16 per cent), indicating that fashion companies and government are on a different page to consumers by rejecting this levy.
In the absence of this, try not to feel disheartened or powerless. As consumers, you can vote with your wallet. Choose to invest in brands you respect, who are creating beautiful, desirable pieces, all the while with respect to the people making these garments and accessories and the planet.
Wrangler’s New Denim Uses 100 Percent Less Water in Dyeing
Legacy American jeans brand Wrangler is addressing the mighty impact clothes-making can have on the environment and making moves to produce their denim products in a more sustainable way, notably the introduction of denim dyed with foam, an innovative technique that uses 100 per cent less water than conventionally dyed denim.
The global launch of foam-dyed denim follows Wrangler’s Indigood commitment to discover and implement the most sustainable ways for dyeing denim throughout its supply chain. The impressive stats for the foam-dyed denim range include 100 per cent water reduction, 30 per cent recycled cotton, and 100 per cent eco-tech finishing.
Wrangler’s factories in Valencia, Spain, where she learned about their newest sustainable initiative. While she was there, Wrangler’s senior director of sustainability, Roian Atwood, told her that the company have decided to target the process of indigo dyeing – “because it has the most significant visual and ecological impact on the planet.”
The legendary denim brand has helped pioneer a technology that has the potential to revolutionize sustainability standards for the entire denim industry.
Indigood Foam-Dye fully replaces the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing, reducing by 100 per cent the amount of water required to turn raw denim into indigo blue, according to Wrangler. The new dyeing process also reduces energy use and waste more than 60 per cent compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.
Image courtesy: Wrangler
“Indigood raises the bar on what consumers can expect from us in terms of environmental performance,” Roian Atwood, director of sustainability at Wrangler, said. “We are continuously looking for opportunities to improve the sustainable impact of our products from field to seam and we are proud of what we’ve promised to achieve through Indigood.”
Essentially, what happens is an indigo foam solution is applied dry to cotton yarn, which dyes it the classic denim blue. The yarn is then put in nitrogen to prevent oxygenation, meaning the jeans don’t need to be soaked multiple times or rinsed through chemicals, which both contribute to the huge amount of water the traditional dyeing process requires.
The Indigood technique will be used first in Wrangler’s Icons range, which is a three-piece denim capsule that came out in spring 2019 and includes some of Wrangler’s most iconic products produced through the highest level of sustainability available. The Indigood products also incorporate recycled cotton, laser finishing and ozone finishing, all considered sustainable manufacturing.
Continuing on their global sustainability goals, Wrangler said it plans to conserve 5.5 billion litres of water at owned and operated facilities by 2020, using 100 per cent preferred chemistry throughout its supply chain by 2020, power all owned and operated facilities with only renewable electricity by 2025, and source 100 per cent sustainable cotton by 2025.
On the one side, you have labels creating t-shirts heralding the age of feminism but are fundamentally at odds since the very t-shirt is highly likely to have been made by a woman working within the garment industry, who is receiving far below a living wage and working in far from ideal surroundings. This is before you even consider the environmental impact of creating that t-shirt.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for charity t-shirts. As recently as January of this year, it was revealed that Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made at a factory in Bangladesh where women earn the equivalent of 35p an hour during shifts in which they claim to be verbally abused and harassed, a Guardian investigation had found. The charity tops, bearing the message “#IWannaBeASpiceGirl”, were produced by mostly female machinists who said they were forced to work up to 16 hours a day, receiving far below a living wage and called “daughters of prostitutes” by managers for not hitting targets.
As a result, brands and charities alike need to be incredibly mindful about how their t-shirts come to being.
A positive example of this is the new collaboration between Save The Children and ALEXACHUNG. Save the Children Ambassador Poppy Delevingne has put forward her long-time party pal Alex Chung to collaborate on a line of T-shirts to celebrate Save The Children’s 100-year anniversary and the launch of the charity’s Stop the War on Children campaign. Thirty per cent of the profits generated from the Tees, which cost £25 and £15 for the children’s versions, will go directly to Save the Children.
“Having visited many Save The Children programmes over the past four years, I’ve met with some of the most inspiring and amazing children who, despite adversity and conflict, have not only survived to tell their stories but are now thriving and full of hope for a better future,” Delevingne said about her ambassadorial role. “It’s because of these children and their daily fight that Alexa and I wanted to create something that would help make a change and encourage people to do something good.”
Image courtesy: Save The Children
Working with Teemill, the t-shirts are made from only traceable GOTS certified organic cotton, the factories are SA8000 Certified (Social Accountability audit) and throughout their supply chain renewable energy is used. The t-shirts are then printed in real-time in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. This means products are only made after they have been ordered, thus ensuring no waste and only use plastic-free packaging.
What’s more, every product is designed to be sent back to Teemill when it is worn out. Since all products and packaging are made from natural materials, not plastic, products can be returned and remade again and again and again.
The t-shirts come in navy, white and a limited-edition run of canary yellow, and feature an illustration of a crescent moon face alongside the words “The Future is Now”. “To me [the moon] symbolises children’s dreams, hopes and the promise of a new day,” Chung explained. “Sadly, not all children have the chance to enjoy such innocent childhoods as millions are battling through conflicts started by adults. But they should, and we need to fight for their futures and help them fulfil their potential by ensuring all children are off limits in war.”
Save the Children is calling on the UK Government to create a plan to protect children – the ‘Protection of Civilians Strategy’. Together we can send a message to the world: Children are the future. And the future is worth fighting for. Join the fight to make children off-limits in war. Buy your t-shirt now and sign the petition here.
More sustainable supply chains are only possible when conscientious shoppers buy the products they want to see in the world.
Shop the T-shirts at Savethechildrenstore.com and wear and share them on social media using @SaveChildrenUK #Stopthewaronchildren
The global sustainability movement Fashion Revolution is hosting its fifth annual week-long event from April 22nd-28th.
Why is it necessary? Surely the days of exploited workers, slave labour and sweatshops are behind us? Sadly they’re not and in fact, in some instances it’s actually getting worse for garment workers. Six years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,138 garment workers, our clothes are still being made by some of the poorest, most overworked and undervalued people in the world.
A report published last week by the Worker Rights Consortium, reveals the shocking reality of repression, violent attacks and intimidation of garment workers in Bangladesh who are simply trying to campaign for a fair, living wage. These exploited workers – vital cogs in the country’s $30bn (£21bn) industry – have been asking for more money since the minimum wage was raised in November 2018 to the equivalent of $22 (£17) a week, less than 45 cents (35p) an hour.
Since last December, at least 65 workers have been arrested on false charges, while factories producing clothes for some of our favourite brands have fired and blacklisted 11,600 workers with no legal justification. According to the WRC, some have paid with their lives, shot dead by the police as retribution for speaking out.
“They are clearly betting that western brands and retailers care a great deal about prices and very little about labour standards,” says the report.
In fact, even as recently as January of this year, it was revealed that Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made at a factory in Bangladesh where women earn the equivalent of 35p an hour during shifts in which they claim to be verbally abused and harassed, a Guardian investigation had found. The charity tops, bearing the message “#IWannaBeASpiceGirl”, were produced by mostly female machinists who said they were forced to work up to 16 hours a day, receiving far below a living wage and called “daughters of prostitutes” by managers for not hitting targets.
This is why a fashion revolution is needed. This is why it’s vital we pay attention to what big retailers are up to and why it’s more important than ever to ask the question this Fashion Revolution week: Who made my clothes?
A campaign uniting customers and workers gives you the power to help, last year 3.25 million people took part during the week to ask, #WhoMadeMy Clothes? That question, when a brand is tagged on social media with the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes?, has already resulted in major change within the industry.
This year’s theme focused on encouraging consumers to respect both people and planet via fair work policies, gender equality and environmental protection.
The textiles industry accounted for 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 in 2015. Its use of non-renewable resources – including oil to make synthetic fibres – is estimated to increase from 98m tonnes in 2015 to 300m tonnes by 2050. Dyeing and textile treatment processes contribute to 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution.
Fashion Revolution week provides a platform to urge brands to put worker welfare and safety and environmental safeguards above shareholder profit. “We have to start looking at the true cost of our clothing, because at the moment that is hidden,” says Carry Somers, who founded the campaign in the immediate aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse, alongside co-founder Orsola de Castro. “Ultimately, future generations are going to bear the cost of the unseen social and environmental impacts.”
We all have the power to make a change and this Fashion Revolution week is about demanding fair and decent conditions and pay, environmental protection and gender equality. During this period, thousands of events are being held around the world, so get involved by heading to Fashion Revolution’s events page.
We’ve also rounded up our top events:
Fashion Open Studios: As part of an ongoing initiative to educate consumers on production processes and promote transparency, countless designer studios will open their doors during Fashion Revolution Week. Highlights include a talk at Vivienne Westwood’s original store at 430 Kings Road in London, and an upcycling Mending Morning event at sustainable boutique Brigid McLaughlin in Sydney. Designer Phoebe English will also be hosting a Quilting From Waste workshop at her studio in South London. And in Berlin, Soup Archive offers visitors a space to experiment, create and repurpose their old items and factory garment leftovers. For a full list of events, see Fashion Open Studio.
Swapping Societies: The Global Fashion Exchange will host a number of swap shops during the week, with events taking place in Amsterdam, Miami, Mumbai, Los Angeles and Bangkok. These day-long events invite customers to swap unwanted items, as well as attend panel discussions and workshops on industry sustainability.
Discussing Change: Fashion Revolution week will play host to a number of pioneering talks: an audience with activist designer Katherine Hamnett in London; and in collaboration with The Victoria & Albert Museum, Fashion Question Time will discuss how innovation and sustainability will change the fashion panorama.
Glossier Play In Trouble With Non-Biodegradable Glitter
Back in February, cult beauty brand Glossier began teasing the beauty industry and its legion of Instagram followers with its latest product release and last month it finally unveiled the much-anticipated Glossier Play. However, the release of the collection designed to promote self-expression, creativity and play, was in fact met with sighs heard across the internet.
While some customers slated the brand on Twitter for not being inclusive enough in their swatching, others were shocked by the inclusion of non-biodegradable glitter. As one of the most hyped products from the new line, Glossier Play Glitter Gelée is not advised to be washed off, but rather wiped away with their Milky Oil.
One commenter wrote: “Y’all couldn’t have at least sourced biodegradable glitter for the Glitter Gelée? That’s a pretty careless/irresponsible move. It’s 2019 ffs.”
Two years in the making, Glossier Play incorporates four products, 28 shades and two tools. Surely inclusivity and sustainability could’ve played a bigger role.
Image courtesy: Glossier Play Glitter Gelée
On top of that, the packaging features more plastic than we’d hope to see from a new brand. This comes amidst a global anti-plastic movement, with glitter increasingly becoming a subject of debate in makeup circles as well. Biodegradable options definitely exist, so for a brand that is so big on peer reviews and consumer driven content, the glitzy use of non-biodegradable glitter just feels tone deaf.
In a statement to COOLS, Glossier confirmed that the “the paillette in Glitter Gelee are not biodegradable.”
With other brands like Eco Glitter Fun delivering biodegradable and compostable glitter makeup, it leaves Glossier looking out of touch with its millennial fans. This is hopefully a lesson for the future and will encourage the brand to move towards investing in the development of clean beauty products.
New York City is considering a proposed legislation that would ban the sale of fur.
City council officials Corey Johnson, Mark Levine and Fernando Cabrera have sponsored a proposed local law that would ban fur sales throughout the city’s five boroughs.
“As an animal lover, I believe it is cruel to kill an animal just for the purpose of people buying and wearing a fur coat. There is really no need for this,” Johnson said to the New York Post. “In a progressive and modern city like New York, banning the sale of fur clothing and accessories is long overdue. Saying no to fur is fashionable and a symbol of progress. This proposal is about protecting animals and their unnecessary killing.”
Following similar moves by other American cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley, where legislation has been passed to ban the sale of fur, New York would be the first city on the east coast to enact such a ban.
Momentum has been building since New York Assembly woman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill proposing to make it illegal to “sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give, donate, or otherwise distribute a fur product” in the state of New York by 2021.
“Increasingly, consumers are looking to make ethical and sustainable purchases — fur is neither of those”, said Rosenthal as quoted by the New York Post. “Fur farms across the United States raise animals like raccoons, foxes, mink and chinchillas to kill for their fur, often using cruel and inhumane methods”.
Image courtesy: Cara Delevingne in a faux fur cape for Burberry 2018
The proposed legislation was celebrated by animal rights activists. Commenting on the bill, Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, said in a statement: “Finally the day has come that city council members see the handwriting on the wall as well. NYC can be the ultimate fashion forward role model by passing this legislation and ending what most of society has come to understand: cruelty is not fashionable.”
Rosenthal’s bill is similar to the one recently passed in Los Angeles, the biggest American city to ban fur so far. The prohibition, which applies to apparel and accessories, will come into effect on January 1, 2021. San Francisco also banned fur sales last year after a historic unanimous vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors.
Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown Introduce Cottonized Hemp Denim
Levi’s, the iconic denim apparel label that is soon to go public again, is teaming up with men’s lifestyle label Outerknown that features groundbreaking cottonized hemp.
The heritage San Francisco-based brand recently announced that it is introducing a new form of “cottonized hemp” denim in Spring 2019 in the form of a Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown collaboration.
The menswear collection rooted in sustainability and driven by design is set to include jeans and a trucker jacket made with 70% cotton and 30% hemp, that it says has been altered to feel just like cotton. The hemp was sourced from a rain-fed hemp crop and thereby reduced the water used in fibre cultivation by roughly 30%.
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
Celebrating the environmental benefits of hemp, Levi’s says it plans to use the fibre in more garments in the near future. Hemp requires less water and land in the growing phase and has roughly half the carbon footprint of conventionally grown cotton.
Levi’s Wellthread approach is also focused on the creation of products from a single fibre-cotton. Made of 100% cotton, the fabric, thread, pocketing, and labels are all designed for recyclability and with easily removable metal trims, with a future state of closed loop recycling in mind.
Up until now, the rough texture of hemp has prevented it from being widely adopted in the apparel industry. However, Levi’s is committed to overcoming that obstacle by employing “a process developed by fibre technology specialists that softens the hemp, giving it a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from cotton.”
“We know hemp is good for the environment, but it has always felt coarse,” said Paul Dillinger, vice president of product innovation at Levi’s. “This is the first time we’ve been able to offer consumers a cottonized hemp product that feels just as good, if not better, than cotton.”
Image courtesy: Levi’s x Outerknown
In fact, interest is building around the potential of hemp as a more sustainable cotton alternative. At the end of 2018, a farm bill was signed into law that legalised the growth of hemp in the United States. Analysts predict that the hemp market, currently valued at around $1 billion, will be worth $20 billion by 2022.
The partnership between Levi’s Wellthread and Outerknown, the sustainable clothing company founded by professional surfer Kelly Slater, is in its fourth season. Previous collaborations focused on jeans made with Levi’s water-conserving Water < Less fabric and recyclable trims.
The Spring 2019 line will also include a T-shirt made from recycled jeans, a western shirt made with a cotton and hemp blend, and a fully recyclable nylon board short, of which all the materials used, from fabric to eyelets and stitching, are made from nylon.
All garments in the collection were crafted in facilities that participate in Levi Strauss & Co.’s Worker Well Being initiative, which offers workers health and planning advice, along with financial education programs.
British lawmakers are considering a radical new plan to encourage clothing recycling and reduce waste: a ‘fast fashion’ tax.
A new report from the U.K. Parliament is urging a tax to fund a recycling program.
The report presented by the U.K.’s parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee is recommending that Britain should charge producers a penny-per-garment fee to fund a £35 million ($45 million) per year national clothing recycling program.
Less than 1% of clothing in the U.K. is recycled today, according to the report, which also examined the wider impact of the fashion industry and so-called “fast fashion.”
Image courtesy: Shutterstock
“A million tons of textiles a year are being thrown away and we need to bend the curve of consumption. We are urging consumers to buy less, to repair and reuse more before they recycle as well,” Mary Creagh, the chairwoman of the committee, told Sky News.
Only last year, environmental groups criticised Burberry for burning almost $40 million worth of unsold product to preserve the exclusivity of the luxury brand. Global clothing production and transport—not to mention the burning of garments—contribute about as much to carbon emissions as does the aviation industry, the BBC reports.
The parliamentary report also attacked labour standards in the fashion supply chain.
“We are also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the garment supply chain,” lawmakers wrote.
Image courtesy: Burberry criticised for incinerating unsold products | Burberry
Labour abuses occur not just among major producers of raw products, such as cotton farms in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, but astonishingly in clothing factories in the U.K., where lawmakers write they have reports of underpaid and illegal workers.
In addition to the penny-per-garment fee and other suggested incentives to promote recycling, the report called for tightening supply chain transparency rules to make it easier for consumers to understand who made their clothing and under what conditions.
What’s more, the report also calls for a ban on incinerating and landfilling unsold stock. And about time, too!
A fashion legend. A visionary. A perfectionist. He saved Chanel and made it the most sough-after label in the world. He revived Fendi and Chloé, while launching his own KL label simultaneously.
The fashion designer was couture’s undisputed prince. He was the most prolific and admired designer of modern times. A master of craftsmanship, while at the same time he also liked the idea of doing things you’re not supposed to do.
His influence on the fashion industry is unparalleled. Known fondly in fashion circles as “the Kaiser” thanks to his German heritage, he was famously uncompromising in his design vision.
One of our favourite quotes:
“I think tattoos are horrible. It’s like living in a Pucci dress full-time.”
Pantone has announced Living Coral – otherwise known as Pantone 16-1546 – as its colour of the year. And we can’t think of anything more beautiful.
The announcement many in the design community wait for at this time every year, Pantone has selected “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge,” out of its vast palette to be the chosen colour of the next 12 months.
Pantone describes its choice for 2019 as emitting “the desired, familiar, and energising aspects of colour found in nature. In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent colour mesmerises the eye and mind.”
Never has this been more necessary when real coral reefs are being devastated by global warming. Far from naive, Pantone’s championing of the colour based on the natural pigmentation of healthy ocean coral should be considered a sign of positivity and a reminder of what we’re fighting to protect.
For 20 years now, the Pantone Color Institute has been fusing colour-centric consultancy and psychology with seasonal trend forecasting to come up with a hue that they feel can advise brands and companies on how to deploy colour effectively in the year to come.
Pantone acknowledges that these are turbulent times, saying “we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy” as a reaction to “the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life”. We’re all suffering an increasing need for IRL human connection, and a connection with nature, too.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), up to 60 per cent of our remaining reefs are now at risk of being lost due to the devastating effects of global warming and pollution.
Perhaps not as “nurturing” as intended, we can’t help but celebrate the intent.
In fact, Pantone isn’t alone in predicting future colours. Dulux launched its 2019 colour of the year last month, suggesting a shade called Spiced Honey. Smoother and cooler, it could be suggested they too were attempting to find a colour that was a salve for the current global turbulence. A colour that naturally accompanies a palette of hues associated with natural materials like cork, hemp and bamboo.
Colour predictions aside, what we can and should strive for in 2019 is the recognition that we can all have an impact, whether that’s on the natural world or the lives of garment workers. Then it’s about deciding whether you want it to be positive or destructive. We’re hedging our bets with the former!
Timberland Appoints Christopher Raeburn as Global Creative Director
Timberland has tapped upcycling champion Christopher Raeburn, the designer known for transforming surplus stock and military cast-offs into snappy fashion collections, as its global creative director. Raeburn plans to apply his remade, reduced, recycled ethos to the American outerwear and footwear brand.
British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn has been named the new global creative director of Timberland, as the brand looks to strengthen its commitment to responsible design, and coincides with the release of the Christopher Raeburn x Timberland Autumn/Winter 2018 collaborative collection.
Raeburn will be a “key stakeholder” in developing Timberland’s global creative vision, said the footwear and apparel brand, and will be overseeing the design across all product categories, marketing and in-store environments, as well as “elevating the brand’s commitment to responsible sourcing, inclusivity and community”.
As creative director, Raeburn will partner with Timberland’s global product, marketing and innovation teams to “deliver a forward-thinking look and feel that pushes design boundaries while honouring the brand’s outdoor heritage,” added the brand in a statement.
He will work closely with each team to create a collection of Timberland footwear, apparel and accessories as part of the brand’s purpose to “step outside, work together and make it better” strategy. The first full collection under Raeburn’s vision, across men’s and women’s, will be autumn/winter 2020.
Image courtesy: Christopher Raeburn
“Timberland has a strong foundation in craftsmanship and innovation – now it’s time to elevate our brand vision through the lens of design,” said Jim Pisani, global brand president, Timberland in a press release. “Christopher Raeburn is a true visionary, who shares our ethos of responsibility and brings to the table a fresh, modern design sensibility. Together we will really push the boundaries of where Timberland can go as a brand, and we’re excited to get started.”
On his new appointment, Raeburn told Vogue: “I’ve been watching the Timberland brand for many years and have always been drawn to its commitment to be a responsible business. I see an incredible opportunity for Timberland to break out and put responsible, innovative design at the centre of the brand’s creative strategy. Timberland makes a lot of its products in a very purposeful way, too—to be hard-wearing, with a lot of longevity. I think it is a perfect match.
Raeburn will share his time equally between his own Christopher Raeburn brand and Timberland, and will be continuing to be based in his London studio, the company added, while also traveling frequently to Timberland’s global headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire, and regional headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
The appointment coincides with the release of the London-based designer’s global apparel capsule collection for Timberland, which debut earlier this year at London Fashion Week. In line with his Remade philosophy, each piece in the new capsule has been created from second-hand Timberland garments that Raeburn sourced and then meticulously deconstructed, remaking them into iconic, contemporary pieces and served as inspiration for the Timberland x Christopher Raeburn capsule collection. Consisting of joggers, a reversible anorak, a reversible hoodie and several other low-fi pieces, the capsule should provide a taste of what’s to come from the new partnership.
Each piece in the Timberland x Raeburn Remade collection features a range of eco-conscious materials including organic cotton and recycled PET (derived from plastic bottles), to minimise impact on the environment.
Raeburn established his eponymous fashion and lifestyle brand in 2009 with a sustainable focus in his design centred around three key pillars – remade, reduced and recycled, when few in fashion even entertained the notion of its need. This innovative approach of pioneering the reworking of surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional pieces is applied across his menswear, womenswear, luggage and accessory lines and has earned him multiple awards over the years.
As Raeburn himself has said, “hopefully, it is a sign of the times more broadly, too.” We couldn’t agree more.
Last week, Everlane, the brand known for its “radical transparency” in terms of pricing and ethical factories, deleted all of their photos from Instagram. Why? The wipe was all part of the brand’s ambitious announcement that they will eliminate all virgin plastic from its supply chain by 2021. Instead, all plastics in their packaging and clothing will be sourced from recycled plastic water bottles.
Everlane has projected they will recycle 100 million water bottles in the next five years. For context, 500 billion new plastic water bottles are produced each year. And once plastic has been created, it doesn’t biodegrade, it just breaks down into progressively smaller bits (see: the Great Pacific Garbage patch).
When you consider that plastics are in everything from body glitter to tea bags, things start looking pretty bleak. So, congrats to Everlane for making this monumental move.
Image courtesy: Everlane
The plan was announced at a dinner held last Tuesday on the rooftop of the Brooklyn Grange farm, where the food was by Dan Barber of Blue Hill, whose sustainable farming and cuisine philosophy sits nicely with Everlane’s. Invited guests stayed cosy in the al fresco setting with Everlane blankets and sweaters made from their new ReNew fleece, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, while Preysman delivered some staggering statistics: There are 8 billion tons of plastic on the planet, which is roughly one ton per person that exists; and plastic cannot be broken down in the environment. “It’s a really convenient thing, but it’s actually incredibly damaging because once plastic is made, we use it for a second but it lasts forever,” Preysman said, as reported by WWD. He acknowledged the “cognitive dissonance” intrinsic to a company that is built on producing and selling new stuff all the time, and how Everlane plans to reconcile that cognitive dissonance as best it can.
Image courtesy: Everlane
ReNew consists of 13 women’s and men’s cold-wear styles, such as parkas, winter puffers, lightweight puffers and fleece sweatshirts, made from more than 3 million recycled plastic water bottles. Colours include lavender, brick, mustard, rose, stone and navy.
To coincide with the ReNew launch, Everlane will open a ReNew Concept Shop in SoHo in New York, offering an interactive and inside look into the ReNew production line, tracing the journey from discarded plastic bottles to garments. Visitors are invited to learn about the problem of plastic waste and get inspired to take action, with a range of on-site experiential installations, educational workshops and interactive programming stations.
New products will be introduced to the category over the coming years and all Everlane products will be distributed in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bags. Collectively, these changes will recycle 100 million plastic bottles within the next five years.
As well as removing virgin plastic from its supply chain, Everlane plans to use silk grown in regenerative farms by 2021 and aims for it to be dyed and washed with 100% recycled water in processes that use 100% renewable energy by 2022.
Image courtesy: Everlane
Everlane isn’t the only fashion brand thinking about its use of plastic. New York City-based designer Gabriela Hearst committed to going plastic free by April 2019 back in June. While performance-wear and outdoor brands including Patagonia (which began recycling plastic bottles into polyester in 1993), have been on top of the issue for decades, for most of the industry, abandoning new plastic is still a radical suggestion and faces much resistance.
The hope is that more and more brands will make the transition towards sustainable supply chains, with moves by the likes of Everlane pushing them towards it sooner rather than later.
Emerging Designers Discuss the Importance of Sustainability in Fashion
The new generation of designers is growing increasingly conscious of how to build brands, understanding that their’s-and consumers-values should play a pivotal role.
Offering assistance along the way is The House of Peroni Fashion Studio, a one-of-a-kind industry incubator initiative, that seeks to educate and empower eight emerging creatives on core issues, through its fully-equipped open studio and mentorship scheme.
Over the nine-month programme, the eight designers (selected following a nationwide search for the best emerging talent) will take up residency in a state-of-the-art fashion studio in East London, creating pieces to present in an exhibition space during February 2019’s London Fashion Week. Unparalleled guidance and access to inspiring talks from Peroni’s Creative Council of industry-renowned experts, including Jonathan Saunders, Anna Orsini, Pandora Sykes, Isabella Burley and Alexander Fury, will also be available. From marketing to social media, each expert will bring a unique skillset to The House of Peroni Fashion Studio and give the up-and-coming talent a head-start in their careers.
Image courtesy: Peroni | Peroni Creative Council
“It’s super-important for a company like Peroni to support designers,” Rose Danford-Phillips told Vogue in an exclusive video exploring the designers’ influences and ambitions. “The House of Peroni Fashion Studio provides us with a studio and amazing mentorship – both of these things are invaluable.”
The initiative centres on ensuring the long-term growth of each brand, and throughout the entire creative process each designer is encouraged to stop to consider how they can be mindful on their journey and look to be more sustainable. The emerging designers will adopt their own individual approaches based on the ethics that are important to them, from Danford-Phillips’s pledge to try to not use polyester to Stacey Wall’s mission to trace all raw materials back to the source, Pelin Isildak’s commitment not to waste leather and Kyle Lo Monaco’s ambition to create new fabrics using technology.
“We’re at the beginning of this sustainable movement and it’s about an education process,” Lo Monaco shared with Vogue. “As designers we are the future of fashion, so if we start this now, this will become epidemic.”
Pelin Isildak’s added, “I believe in collaboration more than anything.”
To check out the work of these young designers’, attend The House of Peroni Fashion Studio during London Fashion Week in February 2019. For more information on the programme, visit TheHouseofPeroni.com.
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In February 2019, the V&A will open the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the house of Dior, who has dressed the most beautiful women, from Princess Margaret to Jennifer Lawrence.
Spanning 1947 to the present day, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will trace the history and impact of the couturier, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him at his namesake brand, in what will be the museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015.
Image courtesy: Christian Dior | Christian Dior with model Sylvie, circa 1948
Led by fashion and textiles curator Oriole Cullen and set designer Nathalie Crinière, the V&A team will reimagine the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, for the iconic London gallery space. “We have about 50 per cent new content and it is all haute couture,” Cullen told Vogue. “It’s quite phenomenal to think that every single garment in the show is handmade. Throughout the 70 years of the house, we see the high points and the amazing imagination of the designers at the helm. The garments themselves speak volumes, so this is very much a show that focuses on the fashion.”
Image courtesy: Christian Dior | Christian Dior with model Lucky, circa 1955
There will be eleven sections, which include “The New Look” (a focus on Dior’s famed Bar suit) and “The Dior Line” (the designer’s ten defining looks from his 1947 and 1957 tenure at the house).
A new addition to the exhibition will include an installation exploring the designer’s fascination with Britain. “It’s a story that hasn’t really been told before,” Cullen says of her extensive research into what the 21-year-old man from Normandy connected with upon his first visit to the country to perfect his English. “It was a very formative moment, and something he really associates with freedom and falling in love. From the grandeur of the great houses and gardens and British-designed ocean liners to the food he ate, which, most found less than appealing in the ’50s, the culture became an endless pool of inspiration for him. “And he loved British women – the way they wore their tweeds as well as their ballgowns,” adds Cullen.
Of all the British female clients of note, Princess Margaret stands out. She paid his boutique a visit during her first European holiday in 1949. “He was very proud of the secret shows he staged for the royal family,” Cullen explains. After he had shown his first collection at The Savoy in 1950, he presented the looks to the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Marina and Princess Olga of Greece at the French embassy. “The models were told they were going there for lunch!,” Cullen laughs of the covert operation. Accordingly, a highlight of the exhibition will be the Dior dress Margaret wore for her 21st birthday celebrations on loan from the Museum of London.
Image courtesy: Getty Images | Princess Margaret presents Christian Dior with a scroll entitling him to Honorary Life Membership of the British Red Cross
One of the most striking personal possessions on display will be a portrait of Dior from the 1920s, notes Cullen. “He’s portrayed as a young, colourful figure, not the grey suited one that comes to mind,” she says. Another piece that piqued the interest of the curator was Dior’s lucky star – an old metal token the designer found outside the British embassy in Paris. “He spotted it just when he was being approached to set up his own house, saw it as a sign and retained it as a lucky charm throughout his life,” notes Cullen. “He was always very superstitious – he consulted a medium and believed in signs and symbols. What’s lovely, though, is that the star has survived and it’s something that his successors have referenced.”
Following on from the man himself, each successive artistic director, from Yves Saint Laurent to Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri, are given equal weight within the exhibition.
The exhibition “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” comprising the curation of 500 objects, will run from February 2 – July 14, 2019 in the V&A’s Sainsbury Gallery. Tickets will go on sale in autumn 2018.
With Britons buying twice as many clothes as a decade ago – last year we spent £50 billion – there is mounting concern about cheap, disposable fast fashion. Some have even branded it ‘look and chuck.’
Last night, BBC One aired Stacey Dooley’s documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, which revealed that around the world millions of gallons of clean water has either been diverted to growing cotton, or has been polluted by the toxic chemicals used for dyes and manufacturing.
For many viewers this came as a massive shock and saw Twitter erupt. The facts simply don’t lie: to grow enough cotton to make a single pair of jeans can take 3,400 gallons or 15,500 litres of water. And the trend for cheap, disposable fashion means more than 300,000 tons of clothing are dumped in landfill in Britain alone each year, which last year worked out at 235 million items.
Are we *finally* at a tipping point? Who knows, but there certainly is growing momentum on the issue, with many officials now recognising the need for urgent action. Last week, MPs called on British fashion retailers to take action amid claims that social media is fuelling a “throwaway culture” that is adversely affecting the environment.
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee wrote to Britain’s ten biggest clothing retailers asking them to reveal their environmental footprint, quoting evidence that British shoppers buy far more new clothes than any other European nation.
The firms involved, all high street favourites and supermarkets, include Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next, Arcadia (Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis), Asda, T K Maxx, Tesco, J D Sports, Debenhams and Sports Direct International. The majority churn out hundreds of new fashion lines a year, incessantly updating their stock and fuelling trends.
Image courtesy: Unknown
Unsurprisingly, it’s been claimed that Instagram is perpetuating the need for the ‘new,’ with people adopting a ‘look and chuck’ mentality made possible through the prevalence of fast fashion.
Mary Creagh, chair of the Committee, said: ‘If you look at Italy’s fashion market, there’s much more focus on high-end clothing and people tend to save up and buy just one or two garments, like Max Mara coats, which are timeless.
‘Ours is much more trend-driven. This year it’s yellow, last year it was pink, this autumn it’s check – pretty soon you’re exhausted. Everyone’s doing it, it’s Topshop, M&S, H&M, they’re all fast-turnaround, high-turnaround, relatively cheap clothing.’
Dooley and Lucy Siegle are clear in the documentary that such cheap fashion amounts to ‘consumer catnip’. It’s most dramatic illustration comes from Central Asia, a major hub for cotton production. Yet here, it has now become as dangerous to the environment as plastic.
Cotton producers in Uzbekistan – the world’s sixth largest cotton producer – have diverted water away from the Aral Sea to giant cotton farms, profoundly impacting the livelihood of farmers and fishermen in neighbouring Kazakhstan. The sea has almost vanished and vast quantities of chemicals were left on the sea bed, poisoning millions of people and farmland.
And the reason? Our insatiable appetite for cheap jeans and the rapacious cotton farming that feeds it at almost any cost.
As was revealed in the documentary, the loss of water has had a profound impact on the region. There are no longer trees or plants to stop the wind, and huge dust storms whip up in seconds. An entire ecosystem has died, the fishing industry has been annihilated and thousands have lost their jobs. Equally, it is much harder to grow crops and to farm animals.
The health crisis has seen an increase in strokes, blood pressure and cancer in the local communities. It is believed to be linked to the toxic pesticides which were dumped in the water by cotton factories. As the water has receded, the pesticides have turned to sediment on the dusty ground, only to be spread into the air by the billowing winds.
Image courtesy: undark.org
The documentary then turned to South East Asia, where chemicals are being dumped into Indonesia’s Citarum River, already one of the most polluted waterways in the world, and causing similar devastation. The local army has spent months trying to clear the sea of plastic floating down the river.
But just as toxic are the levels of mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic now present in the waters.
As she travels along the Citarum, Dooley discovers that factories are going to extraordinary lengths to avoid detection, dumping their waste at night, or pumping it through underground pipes into the river. The result? Lurid-coloured water, frothy waves, and a lack of oxygen – causing a putrid stench, dead birds and rats and devastation to local families who rely on the water for drinking, bathing and washing their clothes. More than 28 million people have been affected by the polluted water. This is both heartbreaking and unacceptable.
‘I’ve seen lots of devastation over the years,’ continues Dooley. ‘The problem here is the sheer enormity. The scale of what’s going on is just breathtaking. It’s hard to think the clothes I’m wearing could be causing so much damage. But I can now see how this industry has become such a threat to the planet.
The documentary points out that where, in the past, there were autumn, winter, spring and summer collections of clothes, retailers now work with more than 50 collections a year.
‘To tell people I’m never going to shop again would be completely dishonest,’ says Dooley. ‘Of course I am. But I do recognise how powerful I am as a consumer and I do want to go back to owning clothes and loving clothes and not consuming them in the way we do now.’
Cashmere, one of the most luxurious fibres in the world, was once reserved for the wealthiest fashionistas. But over the past twenty years or so, its stature has skyrocketed and cheaper garments have flooded the market, turning a product that’s been historically marketed as a luxury item into something attainable for the many. That’s all well and good, but not if it means a degradation of the product itself and the processes surrounding its creation. Which is certainly true for cashmere in recent years.
There are, however, brands out there committed to producing cashmere in a fair way and to an exceptionally high standard, none more so than Naadam. A sustainable cashmere, direct-to-consumer business, Naadam focuses on designing beautifully crafted knitwear, ethically sourced directly from Mongolian herders in the Gobi Desert, and in the process essentially disrupting a 1,000 year old industry by cutting out the middlemen.
So, how does a brand of this kind create noise about its first official physical store in New York City’s Greenwich Village? With pictures of goats. Randy, breeding goats having sex. And lots of them. Over the past few week, New Yorkers may have noticed some of the 1,500 ads strewn across downtown Manhattan depicting the shaggy cloven-hoofed critters doing what they do, and as a result how Naadam is going to bring more cashmere to the world. We love it. And we love Naadam.
Image courtesy: Naadam
It might surprise you to learn but just like anything else, all cashmere is not created equal. While it’s common that all cashmere sourced from Mongolia is organic cashmere, environmentally sustainable cashmere is not and that matters a lot.
Naadam has created the only cashmere yarn that is Cradle to Cradle certified, which evaluates & sets a high standard to protect the earth and basic human rights for how the product is made. The brand has created Naadam’s Gobi Revival Fund, which has invested $150,000 into their nonprofit to inoculate 250,000 goats, and thereby directly supporting 1,000 nomadic herding families in Mongolia.
Treating their herders fairly, the label pays 50% more than traditional traders, meaning you pay 50% less as a customer. That means that just because you pay the big price tag does not guarantee the highest quality, softest cashmere. As with anything, from dirt-cheap to ultra-luxe, cashmere exists at almost every price, but what’s the fairest price?
Image courtesy: Naadam Store NYC
Naadam source their cashmere from the Zalaa Jinst white goat, the only entirely white breed of cashmere goat in Mongolia, with the longest, finest, and lightest in colour fibres. That’s about 30% longer than regular Grade A cashmere, which means the longer your sweater lasts.
Celebrating and upholding over 2,000 years of nomadic herding tradition, the fibres are then hand-combed by their herders, which is said to be the only cruelty-free cashmere since shearing goats can be a very stressful experience for the animals. Even though it takes more time & effort to hand-comb, this old-school practice is still considered the best thing for their goats and for maintaining the composition of the fibres.
Also, due to the harsh geography of this area, it means that only a very limited number of goats are combed by hand every spring. To put it into perspective, to make an average-sized jumper, it requires the wool from approximately 4 adult goats.What’s more, the brand use 100% clean energy powered production facilities, provide livable wages, programmes for healthier goats and more sustainable grazing practices, and never use harsh chemicals or bleaches. You definitely can’t say that about every other cashmere producer.
Image courtesy: Naadam
Caring for your cashmere
While pilling— the small balls that form on the fabric as it chafes — is a natural occurrence in cashmere and usually caused by friction such as from your bag strap, seatbelt or rubbing against another textured fabric, persistent pilling happens when lower quality manufacturers use short fibres. These days, manufacturers frequently make the clothes out of a mix of lengths to balance quality with cost. With Naadam cashmere, however, it pills only once (think of it like shedding a layer of skin), after-which it should not. Remember, longer fibres = stronger cashmere.
And when it comes to cleaning, it’s well known that cashmere should never be put in the washing machine. Instead, it’s recommended that you hand-wash your garments using a gentle baby shampoo and lukewarm water, gently swirling your cashmere and leaving it to soak for up to 30 minutes. To dry, the trick is to then lay out flat on a bath towel and gently roll the garment in the towel, absorbing all the water in a cashmere sushi roll of sorts. Sounds like heaven to us.
With autumn upon us and the winter months not far off, look no further than Naadam for your next knitwear investment.