THREAD­ING FASH­ION’S PROB­LEMS

The in­dus­try has cra ed guide­lines for a sus­tain­able fu­ture, fi­nally

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Special Feature - WORDS BY DAR­REN HO PHOTO BY MARKS & SPENCER

FOR ALL ITS GLAM­OUR and cov­etable prod­ucts, fash­ion is the fourth largest con­trib­u­tor of green­house gases and wa­ter pol­lu­tion in the world. Fully four per cent of the world’s trash is from the in­dus­try. What hap­pens to un-bought goods? They of­ten end up in the incin­er­a­tor. Lux­ury fash­ion has a bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print, but global fast fash­ion play­ers like H&M and Top­shop are los­ing pop­u­lar­ity due to the dis­pos­able na­ture of their prod­ucts. This is de­spite their crow­ing of big­ger celebrity and fash­ion part­ner­ships to cor­ral pub­lic con­sump­tion.

The Dan­ish non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Global Fash­ion Agenda re­cently es­tab­lished the Copen­hagen

Fash­ion Sum­mit out­lin­ing what fash­ion CEOs need to do to en­sure a more sus­tain­able fash­ion fu­ture. Seven ideas were put forth. These were: sup­ply chain trace­abil­ity; wa­ter, en­ergy and chem­i­cal use ef­fi­ciency; re­spect­ful and se­cure work en­vi­ron­ments; us­ing sus­tain­able ma­te­ri­als and re­sources; devel­op­ing a closed-loop fash­ion cy­cle; im­prov­ing wage sys­tems down­stream and em­ploy­ing new tech­nolo­gies to drive the other six aims.

Some of them are com­mon sense. But an im­por­tant point is the push for a closed-loop fash­ion cy­cle, un­like to­day’s lin­ear ‘cre­ate and dis­pose’ fash­ion at­ti­tude. It’s a prob­lem that starts from fash­ion’s cre­ative lead­ers and goes down to the con­sumers. De­sign­ers to­day pro­duce four to six col­lec­tions a year. Fast fash­ion brands re­place their win­dows weekly. On­line plat­forms have a cease­less reper­toire to of­fer. Our sped-up life­style is the root of this is­sue, but fash­ion’s re­sponse has been to churn out more, and rapidly.

The re­sult is over-con­sump­tion on ev­ery level of fash­ion. Clos­ing the fash­ion cy­cle loop will slow it down. The re­sult will be a more re­spon­si­ble, ef­fi­cient and so­cially re­spon­si­ble in­dus­try. It’s time that the fash­ion in­dus­try stopped milk­ing mod­els, poorly paid in­terns and Mother Na­ture just so we can have a new It bag next sea­son. AM

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