Excerpt from the book FASHION MADE FAIR – MODERN. INNOVATIVE. SUSTAINABLE by Ellen Köhrer and Magdalena Schaffrin
Interview with Orsola de Castro, upcycling fashion designer and co-founder of the Fashion Revolution movement, about why we need a change in the fashion industry, the power of the consumer and her visions for the future of fashion.
An increasing number of fashion brands and retailers are publishing a list of their suppliers. As of June 2017, we have counted 106 brands across 42 companies/parent groups that are disclosing at least some of the facilities making their clothes.
When we published the first edition of the Fashion Transparency Index with Ethical Consumer magazine in April 2016, we looked at 40 leading global fashion brands and found that only 5 brands (adidas, Converse, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co and H&M) published a list of their manufacturers and only 2 (adidas and H&M) published the names and addresses of sub-contractors or fabric/yarn suppliers.
Garment workers in Phnom Penh often live in housing blocks like the ones seen here—single rooms in dystopian looking concrete buildings. While the homes often have electricity and private bathrooms, there are many in less-developed areas of the city like these, which are located next to an informal trash dump. On average, a room in one of these buildings will cost 120,000 riels per month, equal to about $30.
Workers leave their homes early in the morning to walk to their factories. The factories vary in size and formality but they are often in walled compounds with large metal gates. Conditions in factories have improved over the years but many of our respondents report that they are concerned for their safety for various reasons.
Workers typically get a quick break for lunch and crowds of women will surround vendors like this one, snatching up her prepared lunch fare for a few thousand riels. Workers will also sometimes buy prepared breakfasts and dinners from vendors too.
23 more of the world’s most renowned clothing and textile companies, including Burberry, Adidas, Kathmandu and Timberland have pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2025.
This initiative recognises several existing standards as delivering sustainable cotton: Organic, Fairtrade, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Made in Africa and recycled cotton certified to an independently verifiable standard such as the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) or the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS). In addition, CottonConnect’s REEL programme and code provides a starting point for businesses aiming for greater sustainability in their cotton supply chain.
36 major brands and retailers have now signed up to the 100% by 2025 pledge, including four of Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s ten largest global apparel brands , and three of the top 10 UK clothing retailers. This announcement was made at the annual Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference, where more than 400 textile and apparel leaders have come together to discuss the most important sustainability issues facing the industry.
“The fashion industry has a clear opportunity to act differently, pursuing profit and growth while creating new value for the world economy. This opportunity comes with an urgent need to place environmental, social, and ethical improvements on management’s agenda. In the past decade, the global fashion industry has been an engine for global development and has made progress on sustainability. Awareness of the need for continued improvement is growing, and individual companies are optimizing business practices to limit their negative impact. But to maintain its current growth trajectory, the fashion industry as a whole must address its environmental and social footprint. The earth’s natural resources are under pressure, and while the fashion industry is not the most obvious contributor to this stress, it is a considerable one. Moreover, social conditions in the fashion industry are far from those set forth in the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development.
“Treat others as you wish to be treated.” It’s a simple philosophy, and you’ve probably heard it a million times - I know I heard it more than enough when I was growing up.
It’s a phrase that is quite deeply ingrained in the way I behave today. I like making small talk with the postman when he’s got a delivery for me, and even when I’m mouthing off on Twitter I try to make sure there’s a moral to my story, something to learn from and improve on!
So I was deeply troubled a few years ago when I learnt that the clothes I was buying caused poverty and pain for millions of fashion industry workers. It was one of those revolutionary moments, looking down at a dainty dress and wondering how such a pretty thing can come from system of exploitation, poor working conditions, and even death.
Remember From the region’s first eco-fashion week to changing consumer attitudes in China, Asia-Pacific – long known more for its mass-produced clothing – is joining a worldwide movement towards sustainable fashion.
It was not your average fashion week. There were no street-style photographers and no snooty front-row attitudes, just an overwhelming sense among participants that fashion could be a force for good and now is the time for the industry to change. This was the first incarnation of Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA), which was held from November 23 to 27 and is the first sustainable fashion week ever to be held in Asia-Pacific. It saw more than 40 brands from Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Japan and more showing garments made from degradable and recycled materials, highlighting zero-waste manufacturing and traditional, artisanal handcrafting.
Remember this time last year, when we couldn’t wait for 2016 to end and half-joked that it was the worst year ever? Let’s just say we spoke too soon. This was arguably a worse year across the board, but here’s the silver lining: 2017 also became a stage for certain causes to shine, including sustainability in fashion, which is the second-most polluting industry in the world. Maybe it’s the looming threat of climate change, which seems bleaker by the day, or the fact that people, in general, are demanding more information in every part of their lives, from the crackpot administration to the stuff they’re spending money on.