FASHION JUST GOT LIGHTER

In my previous blog post I mentioned Stella McCartney. The brand is rated ‘’Good’’ on Goodonyou.eco’s directory, and despite the brand being known to use some eco friendly materials like organic cotton and regenerated cashmere, they still use polyester and nylon which is a major letdown for me and Goodonyou shares the sentiment. I noticed there was no ’’recycled polyester’’ on farfetch.com, when I searched for the brand’s clothing and accessories and they’re still marked as Positively Conscious. I have to say I don’t really understand how that works.

But fashion just got lighter, because a well known fashion brand – CHLOE –  the first luxury maison to become B-Corp certified last month, as reported by EcoWatch. There wasn’t much of press fuss about it, there was no noise on social media about it. They came a long way from being rated ’’Not good enough’’, after ’’18 months of collective work by our teams worldwide’’(Chloe 2021). Prada wants to follow on this path as well, and recently began using recycled nylon.

What is a B-corp certification? On their website, Chloe describes it as being ’’one of the most demanding certifications that evaluates brands’ social and environmental impact, with over 300 questions about governance, workers, communities and impact on the environment’’ and committed to updating their Sustainability section.

There are several B corp directories online which are very useful for every eco-happy wardrobe:

B corporation:

UK:

Latin America and Caribbean

Canada:

B corp directory Australia:

As many climate activists have shared on social media, if all these companies wanted to make changes they would today, but instead get lazy. Not Chloe’s creative director Gabriela Hearst, whose own brand was rated ’’Not good enough’’ yet she’s done her research, inspired by her life living on family inherited farm, where ’’Everything gets used, so that’s where I learned utilitarian skills for sustainability’’.

I don’t want perfect activists but I do want to see that my favorite activists and public figures respect their given word and seeing their commitment reflect in their own closets, outside red carpet events. Most fashion houses rated ’’Not good enough’’ or worse, ’’We avoid’’. Now, of course Goodonyou would need to grow a bigger team to be able to update all ratings, as some of them are a year or two old. Even so, I don’t want public figures to do nice speeches in public and in interviews, posting on social media about what happened with Rana Plaza, asking their followers if they know ’’who made your clothes?’’ then wearing H&M and Topshop, when you know that they are promoting sustainability, fair wages and decent working conditions for garment workers.

REFERENCES:

Anon, 2021. Stella McCartney. Goodonyou.eco. Viewed [11/21/2021]. Available from: https://directory.goodonyou.eco/brand/stella-mccartney

Anon, n.d. Chloé just achieved B Corp Certification. Chloe. Viewed [11/23/2021]. Available from: https://www.chloe.com/experience/en/news/chloe-just-achieved-b-corp-certification/

Fiona Sinclair Scott, 2021. ‘We’re not perfect but we’re freaking trying’: Chloé’s Gabriela Hearst on making fashion sustainable. CNN. Viewed [11/21/2021]. Available from: https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/gabriela-hearst-sustainable-fashion/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0p9qTyJ29AmVIt29pUovciZEWmCTpfEgX18xzQxJYekXcUiAXudfnKkqI

Isabella Wolfe, 2018. How Ethical Is Stella McCartney? Goodonyou. Viewed [11/21/2021]. Available from: https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-stella-mccartney/?fbclid=IwAR2v9frxpe5JQHB6V8i6OgR_CrGHIsO6btJ_t5ywMA_mJfQmhICZGnTn7DA  

Paige Bennett, 2021. Chloé Is First Luxury Company to Become a B-Corp. EcoWatch. Viewed [11/21/2021]. Available from: https://www.ecowatch.com/b-corporations-clothes-chloe-2655324118.html?fbclid=IwAR0p9qTyJ29AmVIt29pUovciZEWmCTpfEgX18xzQxJYekXcUiAXudfnKkqI

THE FASHION INDUSTRY SHOULD BE A MAJOR DISRUPTOR

The fashion industry as we know it is a major polluter. ECOCULT reported that it is responsible for 4-8% of global emissions, and it is interesting to see a parallel with the natural gas and oil sectors who are responsible for 3.9%.

I saw someone on Twitter posting that Emma Watson’s dress is sustainable(referring to the time she wore Alexander McQueen Resort 2020 collection on the cover of VOGUE UK December 2019). Couture is often not sustainable, far from it. Then, I had the inspiration to look at Goodonyou_app, a company who analyzes brands, looking at areas such as People, Planet and Animals. They rate brands from lowest’’We avoid’’, ’’Not good enough’’, ’’It’s a start’’, ’’Good ’’, to highest ’’Great ’’. Alexander McQueen’s rating is ’’It’s a Start’’ which is not good enough considering how big and popular the fashion house is, and surely they have to have the resources to accelerate their progress.

Emma told Vogue in June 2020 that ”I have committed to only purchasing and wearing brands that are rated ‘It’s A Start’ or above, as I want to be able to support brands moving in the right direction’’. I admire that in Emma, but I am quite split between being upset over fashion houses not making progress fast enough despite resources they have available, that it is extremely difficult to only buy clothes from brands who are only rated ’’Good’’, or ’’Great’’, price being a factor to most citizens, but that clothing fabric composition often contains polyester even from designers who champion sustainability like Stella McCartney.

Emma does have the privilege to having a bigger budget than most of us, but she also has the power and influence to lobby and pressurize brands to fasten their seatbelts toward sustainability. She joined Kering’s Board of Directors in June 2020, also chairing their Sustainability Committe of the Board, so she can really use that to drive change.

I really feel that the fashion industry should be a major disruptor, because as ECOCULT showed, fashion involves other industries in their processes: cotton, linen, silk(produced by silkworms but there is a vegan alternative called lotus silk), plastic (which is often not recycled), leather(when vegan leather can be used instead). The most difficult thing would be to change the perception of the public, to influence them to change their behaviour and buying decision-making process.

When I discovered sustainably made fashion it was like discovering a whole new world 😉. I became an affiliate partner with Immaculate Vegan, after using items from their website into sustainable fashion dupes of Emma Watson’s outfits on Instagram. I thought I couldn’t do what a stylist does so ended up creating sustainable outfits and made friends with brands in the process. So, buying sustainably is possible but getting consumers on board is a whole other cake, just like getting people to wear their clothes more than once, except for Kate, she’s great at fashion repeats, she takes that #30wears seriously. Hats off to you humans, who wear their clothing(nudity not being an option in public).

Photo by FreeStocks.org for PEXELS

One simply can’t write a blog about fashion and not include the fabulosity which is Eco-Age, a consultancy agency, describing themselves as creative communicators and providing progressive sustainability solutions whose founder is Livia Firth. They started the challenge #30wears because fashion is oftentimes seasonal, based on trends. There’s an app too, and it wants you to ask yourself ’’will I wear it 30 times?’’ before you buy.

Back to polluters, the footwear and apparel together were reportedly responsible for 8% of global carbon equivalent emissions(Wicker, 2021). There are vegan leather options who look absolutely beautiful, you wouldn’t believe that they were made from Appleskin(one type of vegan leather made from apple waste). Other brands use recycled polyester, recycled and upcycled rubber. There are handbags made of Piñatex(textile made of waste leaf pineapple fibers). These products are fair priced, considering their natural leather counterparts. Just think of how often a woman changes her handbags, going after trends or because they wear off.

I have that hope in my heart that one day these vegan brands will be mainstream popular, as much as I hope that companies stop using so called virgin plastics in their clothing. Take the W’s Dynamic Tee as an example, sold by Houdini Sportwear, made of 100% polyester(plastic), and calling it recylable because you can send it back to them once it wears off.

They’ll be surprised that they’ll never run out of plastics to recycle, surely in my lifetime and theirs! Goodonyou_app showed in an entire post how brands are not putting in the effort to make changes and to show leadership, they reported brands getting a low score for environmental policies for example, only 11% of brands achieve the ’’Great’’ rating in that area. The fashion industry should be a major disruptor because they have what it takes, just not the motivation. It’s like with going to the gym, make yourself do it!

REFERENCES:

Alder Wicker, 2021. Fashion Is Not the 2nd Most Polluting Industry After Oil. But What Is It?. ECOCULT. Viewed [11/17/2021]. Available from: https://ecocult.com/now-know-fashion-5th-polluting-industry-equal-livestock/

Anon. n.d. 30 wears app. Viewed [11/17/2021]. Available from: https://30wears.app/

Anon. n.d. Immaculate Vegan. Viewed [11/17/2021]. Available from: https://immaculatevegan.com/

Anon., n.d. Emma Watson – Independent Director. Viewed [11/15/2021]. Available from: https://www.kering.com/en/group/our-governance/board-of-directors/emma-watson/

Elena Niculescu, 2021. Emma Watson’s fashion commitment. Vogue Uk. Viewed [11/17/2021]. Available from: https://twitter.com/emmawatsonnet/status/1459561122785378315

Houdini Sportwear, 2021. W’s Dynamic Tee. Viewed [11/17/2021]. Available from: https://houdinisportswear.com/en-eu/clothing/shirts-and-tops/ws-dynamic-tee-157524?color=157524907

Sophie Benson, 2021. Fashion Climate Inaction. Goodonyou. Viewed [11/15/2021]. Available from: https://goodonyou.eco/fashion-climate-inaction/

How dirty is your closet?

I decided to take the ‘’How dirty is your closet’’ quiz created by ThredUP, world’s largest online consignment and thrift store, not knowing what to expect. My result was ‘’You are a Green Queen’’ which I totally am! The only think missing from the picture was a crown icon, the least they could do. Do I really have to crown myself?

But in all seriousness, do we know how dirty our closets are? Do we know who made our clothes, for example, in what conditions, wages workers had? We have seen Boohoo who was dropped by its partners Next, Asos, Zalado after allegations of unsafe conditions and low pay came to light.  ‘’Financial Times found that labor exploitation in Leicester factories was rife, describing it as being like a “country within a country”(Forbes, 2020).

We don’t know how far spread modern slavery and forced labour really are. Boohoo is probably just the tip of the iceberg that the pandemic pulled to the surface and social media spread it like fire. Will youngsters change their buying habits? From what I see in the Public Relations and Communications Management classes, I’d say that yes, they are and will. As far as Boohoo is concerned, they face an investigation on the allegations so I hope justice to be served soon.

Forced labour is a topic that People Tree’s CEO and founder Safia Minney didn’t shy away from. She’s created a vimeo account and filmed several videos on different topics which one couldn’t believe we still have to confront in 2020. Bonded labour, child labour, human trafficking, sexual harassment and intimidation are topics for other videos on her account.

These are some of the things that made me even more sensible to the environmental impact of my closet and since I don’t want my clothes to impact the rivers and oceans, I’ve found Coral Ball and Guppy Friend through stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray. These washing bags help with catching fibers and microplastics so that laundry will indeed be clean.

How dirty is your closet? Have you gotten your result? Let me know in the comments below, looking forward to building on the conversation because we learn from one another. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t a Green King or Queen but do something everyday that will help the environment.

References:

Andrew Busby, 2020, As Slavery Allegations Continue To Surround Boohoo, Why Fast Fashion Will Never Be The Same Again, Viewed on [12/9/2020], Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbusby/2020/07/07/as-slavery-allegations-continue-to-surround-boohoo-why-the-days-of-the-5-dress-are-well-and-truly-over/?sh=7150e91759e0

Babipur, 2020, The Cora Ball, Viewed on [12/9/2020], Available from:  https://www.babipur.co.uk/the-cora-ball.html

Guppyfriend, 2020, Guppyfriend washing bag, Viewed on [12/9/2020], Available from: https://en.guppyfriend.com/

Safia Minney, 2020, Forced labour, Viewed on 12/9/2020, Available from: https://vimeo.com/safiaminney

Fashion rambles on sustainability

‘’Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean’’ (Weforum, 2020). Here are my fashion rambles.

Something needs to be changed at a global level, we need better laws for the environment immediately but big companies seem to be stuck in their own world, companies like H&M, but I think manufacturers are happy nonetheless. Good for their business, yes, but the masses of plastics, even car tires and fishing nets floating in our oceans, the clothes that end up in landfill annually are actually bad news, the kind of bad news big companies don’t look at.

The fashion industry can drive change fast if they choose to, they referring to Zara, Asos, H&M. ‘’In total, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. That’s enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually.’’(op.cit.), and ‘’In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011.’’ So it seems we tend to get bored of what we wear too quickly for the environment to keep up.

Image credit: Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels.

One reason for companies not to invest in sustainable supply chains and processes is simple: it costs more money. It does have a long-term advantage though that probably gets dismissed. The revenues they get from five collections a year must be too nice to even risk. Worse, greenwashing is a growing trend. I had a look at greenwashing in Year 1 for a report, where I researched Simple Skincare brand. Greenwashing in skincare was more evident to me than in fashion until I read from several sources that H&M’s Conscious Collection isn’t so conscious.

Bravery is needed to ‘’the ‘fast’ element of their approach’’ (Well Made Clothes, 2019). Who knows how long it will take them to realized that YES, you can be sustainable and make beautiful clothes in superb prints, patterns, sizes and colors. If you want to. That is one thing I noticed in most sustainable brands, the lack of prints, patterns and colors. They need to get playful for sure. It’s probably a reason why it doesn’t appeal to customers along with the price tag. It does cost to dress sustainably, but so is having a dirty closet which leaks polyester into rivers and oceans.

Are lawmakers going to wait for brands worldwide to get brave? Or are they going to take notice when plastic will be found in our drinking water? We’ve seen fashion pioneers like People Tree making way for other companies to create sustainable companies, with ethical processes and offering fair wages to their suppliers.

I love everything about them, even more that they use dyes which are ‘’ low impact dyes, free from harmful azo chemicals which are frequently used in clothing manufacture’’(Our Story,2020) and you can see how every order makes an immense impact on communities in Bangladesh, whom People Tree helped them increase orders, livelihood, improve communications skills and more (People Tree Makers, 2020).  Their way of working should make all of us look beyond the price tag. For someone, it may seem expensive, to me a handmade piece that proves someone has a job, is paid and lives decently, somewhere in Bangladesh.

This country’s garment industry has been deeply affected by the pandemic, after retailers cancelled ‘’billion dollars’ worth of orders – including many that have already been completed’’ (Arun Devnath, Bloomberg) which ‘’affected over 4 million garment workers without a livelihood overnight in Bangladesh alone’’, retailers like Topshop, Kendall+Kylie, Primark, H&M, (full list in references).

One way to go about is boycotting them, I stopped buying my clothes from malls altogether. The quality from Bershka wouldn’t rise at the level of People Tree or Thought, or any other sustainable brand. I washed a t-shirt from Bershka by hand after buying it moons ago, (it had a giraffe illustration on it decorated with silver), and deformed completely. The brand received ‘’Not good enough’’ rating on GoodOnYou website. If you want to see how well your favorite brands do, it would be a good idea to see what rating they have by visiting their website or downloading the mobile app. Knowledge is power, after all. Ladies, let’s get information.

References

Daria Shevtsova, n.d., Photography of a woman holding green leaves, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photography-of-a-woman-holding-green-leaves-1071162/

Good on You, n.d., Bershka, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://directory.goodonyou.eco/brand/bershka

Morgan McFall-Johnsen, 2020, These facts show how unsustainable the fashion industry is, Viewed on 12/9/2020, Available from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/fashion-industry-carbon-unsustainable-environment-pollution/#:~:text=Fashion%20production%20makes%20up%2010,of%20plastic%20into%20the%20ocean

People Tree, n.d., Kumudini, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://www.peopletree.co.uk/about-us/who-makes-our-products/kumudini

People Tree, n.d., Our Environmental Responsibility, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://www.peopletree.co.uk/about-us

Venetianlamanna, 2020, The billionaires refusing to #PayUp, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBydYspgxxw/?igshid=1naybwnzw3yi6

Well made clothes, 2019, HM’s New Conscious Collection Is Greenwashing 101, Viewed on [12/10/2020], Available from: https://wellmadeclothes.com/articles/HMConsciousCollectionIsGreenwashing101/