Several weeks ago I heard a lecture by Dr. Kate Fletcher, a pioneer of the slow fashion movement, on “Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change,” as part of a lecture series presented by Fashion Lab’s YARN series. When I arrived in the auditorium-style classroom, I excitedly took my seat in hopes of learning more about how sustainability is remaking the fashion world.
With a sincere tone, Dr. Fletcher began by asking us to think of a garment or accessory connecting us to nature, and then explained how true materialism invokes intrinsic, more intimate relationships with goods and, ultimately, yields new ways to use garments. She predicted future sustainable fashion designers will need to consider a variety of dimensions when creating new looks, like how our bodies change over time, effects of frequent wearing and laundering, etc.
As acting Reader in Sustainable Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (London College of Fashion), Fletcher commended the eco-friendly practices of climate neutral businesses, modular designers and social campaigns bringing awareness to the amount of fabric, water and other resources wasted in the process of creating the season’s trendiest styles.
Even though practices like these have been “absolutely essential” to the fashion industry over the last 20 years, they are not enough to lessen the impact of conventional consumer ideas of purchase and disposal, Kate said in her presentation.
The lecturer suggested we begin shifting our thinking about our clothing choices and the industry as a whole. Then we can create a vision of what is possible when advances in technology, skills and research work together to extend the boundaries of the social norms of fashion.
Is it too much to demand that every factory employee receive fair wages and work in safe conditions, or that there will be no toxins used in dyes? That zero waste becomes the standard in clothing manufacturing, and only recycled packaging will be used in shipping? You probably can add more demands to the list.
The bottom line is that sustainability is a forum which we can use to shape fashion into what we want it to be!