▶ A tech-driven sus­tain­able cloth­ing mu­seum, the Fash­ion for Good Ex­pe­ri­ence will make us re­think what we wear, writes

The National - News - - ARTS&LIFESTYLE - Emma Bart­ley

Jes­sica Gyasi pushes through the glass doors of the world’s new­est fash­ion mu­seum. Wear­ing a black shirt, printed hair­band and red lip­stick, the Dutch model and film­maker grabs a stylish in­ter­ac­tive bracelet and be­gins to look around. She ad­mires a Stella McCart­ney dress dyed by Colori­fix us­ing en­gi­neered micro­organ­isms. She de­signs, prints and mod­els a sus­tain­able Cra­dle to Cra­dle T-shirt, then walks over to check out what’s on sale in the eth­i­cal fash­ion shop.

As pro­mo­tional videos go, it’s ex­cep­tion­ally cool, but the Fash­ion For Good Ex­pe­ri­ence, a tech-driven sus­tain­able fash­ion mu­seum that opened in Am­s­ter­dam last week, has ar­rived at a high point for eco fash­ion. Stars in­cludng Emma Wat­son, Gwyneth Pal­trow and Olivia Wilde have all teamed up with eth­i­cal brands, while H&M has cre­ated a suc­cess­ful Con­scious line and Asos is of­fer­ing an Eco Edit. An In­sta­gram search for the hash­tag #eth­i­cal­fash­ion gen­er­ates two mil­lion re­sults; for #sus­tain­able­fash­ion it’s 2.5m.

When ex­actly did sus­tain­abil­ity shake off its wor­thy, jute-and-Birken­stocks im­age? McCart­ney gives the move­ment some high fash­ion cred­i­bil­ity, but re­calls that she was seen as an ec­cen­tric when she launched her brand in 2001 and be­gan send­ing ve­gan shoes down the run­way. “Peo­ple thought I was nuts,” she told Vogue last year. “How can you go into the fash­ion in­dus­try and not use leather?”

Grad­u­ally, though, grow­ing con­cern about cli­mate change has made the fash­ion sec­tor’s waste­ful prac­tices – it is the sec­ond most pol­lut­ing in­dus­try in the world af­ter oil – seem very un­cool. And when the Rana Plaza sweat­shop col­lapsed in Bangladesh five years ago, killing more than 1,000 work­ers, con­sumers be­gan to re­alise the hu­man cost of their fast-fash­ion pur­chases.

The Fash­ion For Good Ex­pe­ri­ence aims to feed that grow­ing ap­petite for eth­i­cal and sus­tain­able style, show­ing vis­i­tors how they can look good without harm­ing the planet. “We think sus­tain­abil­ity and fash­ion can walk hand-in-hand, es­pe­cially if con­sumers drive the con­ver­sa­tion,” ex­plains Jake Bar­ton, founder of Lo­cal Projects, the de­sign stu­dio be­hind the Ex­pe­ri­ence. “We en­able that con­ver­sa­tion through a se­ries of in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits and ac­ti­va­tions where vis­i­tors can learn about the past, present and fu­ture of the fash­ion in­dus­try.”

Wel­com­ing vis­i­tors to the build­ing is an in­stal­la­tion of Econyl yarns, made of ny­lon waste col­lected from oceans and land­fill sites around the world. Ex­hibits in­side in­clude a

It is an amaz­ing way of in­spir­ing vis­i­tors on sus­tain­abil­ity, show­ing that good fash­ion can still be cool, fun and wild ARI­ZONA MUSE Model

time­line show­ing the his­tory of labour rights, sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tion in the fash­ion in­dus­try, and The Jour­ney of a T-shirt, which ex­plores the eight stages in­volved in de­sign­ing, mak­ing and sell­ing a cot­ton-polyester mix T-shirt – help­ing to ex­plain the so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of an item that al­most every­one owns.

At the heart of the ex­pe­ri­ence are the in­ter­ac­tive bracelets, through which vis­i­tors can save in­for­ma­tion they have learnt, and com­mit to ways in which they can make a dif­fer­ence. “Each ac­tion and com­mit­ment is saved to vis­i­tors’ pro­files, and at the end of their jour­ney, they take home a per­son­alised Good Fash­ion Ac­tion Plan, a dig­i­tal guide with tips for ex­tend­ing what they learnt into their daily lives,” ex­plains Bar­ton, whose pre­vi­ous projects in­clude the 9/11 memo­rial in New York.

The ac­tion points are based on sup­port­ing the “five goods”: good ma­te­ri­als, econ­omy, en­ergy, wa­ter and lives, and make it clear that there’s much we can do as con­sumers. With the av­er­age Eu­ro­pean buy­ing 60 per cent more cloth­ing than they would have 15 years ago and keep­ing it (ac­cord­ing to Green­peace) for half as long, the Ex­pe­ri­ence asks vis­i­tors to think about what they need rather than rush­ing out to buy cheap clothes in high vol­umes. Tips are

shared on how to buy and se­lect clothes (for ex­am­ple by shop­ping sec­ond-hand, or from in­no­va­tive lo­cal de­sign­ers). And rather than dis­card­ing un­wanted cloth­ing – around 70 per cent of which ends up be­ing burnt or in land­fill – we can give old clothes to a tex­tile re­cy­cling pro­gramme.

It’s all mu­sic to the ears of Ari­zona Muse who, along with fel­low model Lily Cole and sus­tain­able fash­ion de­signer Or­sola de Cas­tro, is one of the mu­seum’s am­bas­sadors. “The Fash­ion for Good Ex­pe­ri­ence is an amaz­ing way of en­gag­ing and in­spir­ing vis­i­tors on sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tions, show­ing that good fash­ion can still be cool, fun and wild,” she says.

Her per­sonal picks from The Good Shop in­clude a pair of red Adi­das x Stella McCart­ney train­ers made with Par­ley Ocean Plas­tic (“the colour is right on for fall”) and a re­cy­cled ny­lon back­pack by EcoAlf that she de­scribes as “big and prac­ti­cal but still stylish”.

With in­ter­na­tional in­flu­encers like Muse and Gyasi rais­ing aware­ness one In­sta­gram post at a time, the team be­hind the Fash­ion For Good Ex­pe­ri­ence is con­fi­dent that they can drive change at an in­di­vid­ual and in­dus­try level. It’s been a long time com­ing, but the eth­i­cal fash­ion trend is a good look on every­one.

Pho­tos Lo­cal Projects

The Fash­ion For Good Ex­pe­ri­ence aims to cre­ate aware­ness about sus­tain­able style. Each vis­i­tor is given an in­ter­ac­tive bracelet, where they can store in­for­ma­tion and com­mit to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

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