The past Tuesday I was invited to speak online about sustainable fabrics at the Swissnex Café des Sciences next to Miranda Chen, manager and co-founder of the fashion label Langerchen. It was a great experience to speak in front of an audience based in China and to get their questions and concerns. Thanks again for this amazing opportunity Swissnex and please find here below the recording as well as some highlights of my presentation.
As you may already know, sustainable fashion is a dear and important topic to me and one of the main reasons I created my conscious fashion label apesigned and got involved in the Fashion Revolution mouvement.
The fashion industry is one of the 4 biggest polluting industries and the tragedy at Rana Plaza, Bangladesh in 2013 was a turning point and the reason why the mouvement Fashion Revolution was born. This incident showed worldwide why there is an urge to campaign for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry.
"We are living in a climate emergency and the fashion & textiles sector is one of the most polluting and wasteful industries. The industry continues to lack transparency, with widespread exploitation of people working in the supply chain. Never before have there been this many people on the planet in slavery, and fashion is a key driver of this reality. Brands and retailers are still not taking enough responsibility for the pay and working conditions in their factories, the environmental impacts of the materials they use or how the products they make affect the health of people, animals and our living planet," FashRev.
"Be curious, find out, do something", FashRev!
As a fact, did you know that 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce polyester, a substance found in 65% of our clothing nowadays, that takes over 200 years to decompose?
Furthermore, did you knew that every year over 15 billion clothes are produces, which corresponds at 20 new items per consumer on the planet?
And that with 34,8%, textile is the first source of primary micro plastics in the oceans,*FashRev.
These numbers are indeed frightening. They also show that a sustainable behaviour is important and that every steps each day counts and impact positively our planet and that being a "consum'actor", an actor whilst consuming is important!
Vote with your trolley
We vote with our trolley at every purchase and therefore can show that we want to consume healthy products taking in account social & environmental responsibilities.
So, never underestimate that with every purchase, a vote is given to the kind of goods we wish to find in our trolley. Look some years back and notice the difference with today's sustainable options we can find, should it be in the food sector, the clothing industry or in architecture. Here above you have 3 sections with sustainable standards. The first one is dedicated to the environment, which also includes organic certification. The second one concerns the social aspect of production. The third one is about the well-being of animals and vegan options.
Are those certifications that guarantee production leaves a small environmental footprint - but be careful: "reduced environmental impact" does not mean "zero impact", as at the moment there is no certification that can guarantee no environmental footprint at all.
Global Organic Textile Standard label is applied to organic cotton, both guarantees that the cotton has been grown according to organic farming standards.
Are those certifications that guarantee production is ethical or fair trade. Let's talk about social impact and take into account a serious problem of textile production that is mainly related to Fast Fashion (or low cost fashion). That is the exploitation of cheap labour, with all it entails, such as gender or racial discrimination, child labour, and more generally the total absence of rights for workers.
Are those certifications that guarantee production is carried out without animal exploitation. Most importantly, it rejects animal-based materials such as leather, fur, wool, silk, etc., but also excludes any testing carried out on animals.
These textile certifications are essential because you cannot talk about sustainable fashion without them. However, I have to insert a few caveats here. It concerns Slow Fashion: traditional, artisanal and local manufacturers that use organic and recycled materials and the fact that these labels are expensive and not easy to option for small ethical labels. This because a lot of small labels having a sustainable ethic don't produce enough quantities to pay the price for having these standards. That's why its important to stay curious and to find out the story behind a label. Small sustainable labels are happy to share their stories and sustainable actions and mostly have all their products made with sustainable criteria's. So pay attention when you shop and avoid falling in the greenwashing trap of big fast fashion brands that have a tiny sustainable collection lost amongst their overloaded clothes racks.
If you want to know more about:
- circular economy
- what is sustainable fashion
- the buyerarchy of a "consum'actor"
- conscious fashion and upcycling by apesigned
Please find the recording and the slides here below:
Thanks for reading me and your interest in sustainable fashion!
Thanks again to the amazing team of Swissnex China for the organisation and hosting me and to the audience for your interest!
Have a lovey weekend,