Manly or not? Top model Edie Campbell suits up in Zara’s latest fall 2019 trend campaign, heading to Manhattan’s Upper East Side in faux fur jackets, bourgeois plaid skirts, printed dresses and pussy-cat bow blouses — with lace collars, no less. Miss Manners is on the move.
AOC has spent time recently reflecting on the hypocrisy of writing about the critical need for sustainability in fashion — while simultaneously promoting it through blog posts. I’ve concluded that silence — or stopping the posting of fast fashion — it not the answer. But we will use each fast fashion post to search for and report on any sustainability-related updates by the brand — in this case Zara.
We will also use the same post to share any new industry info or essays around fast fashion. This compromise allows us to give readers what they see in terms of fashion trends and photography, while using the post to remind us that all of us fashionistas, and the insatiable lust for something new — are part of a very serious problem for our planet. Together, we must also be part of the solution.
Writing as a Forbes contributor, Sophia Matveeva shares Sustainability Is A Tectonic Shift In Fashion, Here Is How Brands Can Adapt.
On the big company side, we are seeing both mass market and luxury brands singing from the same song sheet. Inditex, the owner of Zara, pledged that all of Zara’s collections will be made from 100% sustainable fabrics before 2025. At the G7 summit this August, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled the Fashion Pact, a set of shared objectives for the fashion industry to reduce its environmental impact. Francois-Henri Pinault, the chief of executive of Kering, is leading the initiative, which has now been signed by 30 brands.
Like activist and filmmaker Susan Rockefeller sees a coming shift from consumption to creativity. She says “we have created a culture of fast food and fast fashion. Maybe it’s convenient for us but it’s completely destroying our environment.”
Susan Rockefeller delivered the keynote address at Fashinnovation, a conference that opened New York Fashion Week.
Rockefeller says “when people own who they are and what their own style is, they don’t need to be seasonal. They can think about what makes them feel good and find creative expression in their clothing and their work”.
AOC believes that it’s easy for us to condemn fast fashion for polluting the planet, while stocking up on our latest must-haves. Additionally, the populist rhetoric that big business is just a bunch of corrupt billionaires taking advantage of little people does not hold water in the current fashion landscape.
Well-known retailers are failing in the face of Internet retailing and Amazon, in particular. Sustainable business practices cost money, and few consumers are willing to pay the price — no matter how they answer survey questions.
Rockefeller suggests picking one of the Sustainable Development Goals and working towards that. She says “for new designers, if you are making something, make it as sustainably as possible. Try to find alternative packaging, find where your fabrics come from.” Rockefeller, who sits on the board of the Oceana, a non-profit to preserve the world’s oceans, adds that picking sustainable fabrics is especially important for ocean protection. Since up to 35% of the microplastics found in the ocean come from synthetic clothing, it is worth checking to see how your latest leggings are made.
One positive step noted by Forbes and observed by AOC is the sharing of information and technology. Sharing of R&D is not a buzzword in business generally. And we seriously doubt that NIKE and adidas share a lot of joint R&D. But denim manufacturing — hands down one of the biggest polluters on the planet — IS sharing R&D.
The Upper East Side of Manhattan is the last place associated with sustainability and caring about the little people. AOC hopes that this sudden love for bourgeois dressing comes with some fashion intelligence. French women once led the way with their preference for a few good clothes.
A French woman’s sweater was created to last for years and not be tossed aside at the end of the season — or worse yet, shipped off to Africa so that its owner could purchase a new one with her conscience clear.
A key reason why AOC loves Edie Campbell so much is that the activist woman readily accepts her own responsibility in creating and advancing severe problems for our planet and people. Campbell shared her own activist essay with The Guardian in September 2019, writing ‘Fashion has an environmental problem — and I am complicit’.
AOC and Edie are on the same page (but, of course!) in voicing the issue that the business does not want to hear: we must slow down the fashion cycle and buy less. And yes, there is at least a temporary price to be paid for downshifting.
Is it possible to square my career as a model with my concern about our impending climate catastrophe? It’s a question I often ask myself. After all, my success as a model results from my ability to sell more things to more people – and more stuff is the last thing the world needs.
The world is changing, but fashion is not changing with it. An industry that has long responded to youth movements is failing to respond to the greatest one in decades: climate concern. It continues to target a consumer who can be seduced by images of excess – but what happens when that consumer rejects excess? When young climate strikers such as Greta Thunberg grow up, will they really become luxury customers?
Edie concludes her essay — after citing glimmers of hope around sustainability in the fashion industry — with choice words, and not ones that will always get her more work.