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!
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.
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.