Founder of Parley for the Oceans, Cyrill Gutsch, was rewarded the Special Recognition Award for Innovation at the British Fashion Council’s annual awards Monday night. He got the award for his work with recycling plastics recovered from the ocean, that has then ended up as new products in brands such as Adidas and Stella McCartney, The Current Daily reports.
“The planet is broken, the oceans are nearly dead and we need a dream of a magic blue universe that is well protected – something that we actually fight for together,” he said when recieving his award.
And Cyrill Gutsch is a firm believer in the power of fashion in the fight against climate change. A couple of weeks ago, he said to Vouge:
“Fashion has the power to change people’s minds in a very quick way. It has a big role to play in environmentalism, because it [speaks to] people on an emotional and instinctual level. It speaks to desire and beauty, and allows us to convey this very serious message about the fragility of the planet in a way that isn’t preachy. It’s positive. And it’s fast.”
Swedish fashion chains Kapp-Ahl and H&M along with Peak Performance, are supporting the UN ”Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Action” with its own local initiative. With ”Swedish Textile Initiative For Climate Action” (STICA) they commit to reducing their climate impact with at least 30 percent by 2030. To reach this goal they are creating a platform for ”knowledge sharing, collaboration and reporting”, as stated in a press release. They also invite other textile companies to join them.
UN’s Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Acton is being launched today at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
With Stella McCartney Cares Pink, the brand took a stand against breast cancer. Now, the brand is launching Stella McCartney Cares Green, which focuses on supporting and educating the fashion industry in sustainability. With this project they want to sponsor a shift in attitudes and practices on materials innovation, sustainable design, circular economy and animal welfare.
Among the actions planned are an open source information platform to help businesses, students and policy makers fight for change. There will also be scholarships and support to new designers and plans to educate the industry in how technology could help spur sustainability on.
When speaking at Business of Fashion’s Voices conference recently, Stella McCartney also revealed a collaboration between the brand and the UN; namely a charter with 16 commitments to help fashion businesses curb the damage they’re doing to the planet. The full charter will be launched at COP24 in Poland on December 10, The Current Daily reports.
“Everything is at stake. It’s really about bringing everyone together as an industry, and instead of having a few people talk about it, it’s having everyone talk about it and the leaders actually taking responsibility, putting our money where our mouth is and making an amazing change together.”, Stella McCartney said at the conference.
Imagine a shirt that gets passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter over the course of 20 years. During this process, the garment changes print and colour and ultimately gets back to the brand for reusing in new ways the last decades of its life, first as a jacket lining, then as an accessory.
This thought experiment is part of the Circular Design Speed project conducted this year by Swedish clothing brand Filippa K, research body Mistra Future Fashion and University Of The Arts London (UAL).
“If you can make a garment last through the process of reinvention in reasonable, commercially available and viable ways, you replace the purchase of a new product. The lifecycle assessment of the service shirt against a standard polyester blouse showed significant climate change savings.”, project lead, prof. Becky Earley, Co-Director, CCD, says to FashNerd.
I think this kind of thinking is exactly the industry needs right now. What if we could reimagine the whole idea of what fashion is supposed to be? What if we could rethink the whole set of attitudes surrounding it, keeping the idea of fashion as something living and constantly changing, while still managing to apply this to considerably fewer items? Applying the concept of change to the item itself instead of constantly changing the item?
It’s an exciting idea.
Personally I’m very excited to see in what ways digital technologies could help enable this change. AI is already being used by some as a tool in the design process, maybe it could be of assistance in this context as well, reimagining the next phase in the item’s life cycle? Not to mention AR, with its ability to let us enhance reality.
Almost half of the clothing items bought on online in the UK is returned, mostly due to incorrect sizes. This is a huge environmental problem. And many are trying to solve it, as I adressed in a recent post.
Now, online fashion retailer Asos is introducing a new online sizing tool that attempts to take a step in this direction too. Their fit assistant combines machine learning with a visual questionnaire in order to take into account a wider range of body types and shapes. That is, not only height and weight, but bust size, belly shape, hip width, age, and also what kind of fit the customer is looking for.
Then they blend this customer data with recommendations from the customer’s previous purchases and returns, along with what other customers with similar body types have been happy with.
That’s lot of data though, and quite personal too, which means you have to be ok with giving away all that to a retailer.
The question is also if getting the fit right the first time, necessarily helps lower returns (and thereby the number of harmful transports). Maybe we’ll just shop even more? Worth thinking about.
Screen shot from Asos Fit Assistance.
European consumers want brands and governments to take the lead when it comes to achieving sustainability within the fashion industry. This according to a report from non-profit global movement Fashion Revolution, that was released in the wake of Black Friday, The Current Daily reports.
The report was conducted among 5 000 participants in the five biggest markets in Europe (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy) and showed that shoppers are eager to know that they are not harming neither people nor climate, when buying clothes. 77 % think fashion brands should be required by law to protect human rights, while 75 % think that brands should protect the environment in every step of the supply chain. And they want governments to make sure this is established.
An earlier report from Fashion Revolution also shows that consumers think brands should publish information about where and how their clothes were manufactured and which suppliers they source their materials from – which some are already trying out, using blockchain technology.
“Everyone is convinced that sustainability is a necessity and not an option, but for the luxury industry it’s actually a duty”, Laurent Claquin, head of Kering Americas, said when speaking at the Remode conference in Los Angeles last week, The Current Daily reports.
And the global luxury group is taking some steps to live up to that duty, it seems. For instance, they have launched an open source Environmental Profit & Loss calulator, where businesses can attach value to their planetary impact. They have also introduced an organic cotton that is scientifically traceable thanks to a new supply chain transparency innovation. (Although the use of cotton can be questioned entirely, because of its heavy environmental impact.)
Everyone within the fashion industry need to take action for the sake of the climate, from fast fashion brands to luxury groups. But some argue that luxury brands should take the lead.
“The luxury sector has an obligation to lead the way, because in many ways the rest of the industry is looking to them,” said Eva Kruse, president and CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda, at the same conference, according to The Current Daily.
I’m thinking maybe this duty should be extended to fast fashion brands in particular, considering the large quantities they produce, and considering their much broader customer base.