Fashion is stuck in a pattern of ‘take-make-waste’, which causes devastating environmental impacts, not to mention huge economic losses and it doesn’t need to be this way. The fashion industry can transform from the linear ‘take-make-waste’ model to a circular Good Fashion approach that is restorative and regenerative by design.
We caught up with Communications Director at Fashion For Good, and Editor at Large for Vogue Netherlands, Anne-Ro Klevant Groen, to discuss the impact of buying better, the future of sustainable fashion and when we can begin to see change.
What is the real impact of buying sustainable versus fast fashion?
There are many benefits to buying sustainable fashion. The most obvious that will come to most people's minds are the environmental impacts; sustainable fashion is often produced with the environment in mind, using sustainable farming practices - less water, fewer chemicals, organic crops, energy savings, carbon emissions, the list goes on. But this also extends beyond the production of the clothing; buying quality garments means you’re buying things that last, thus fewer items and items you will wear and cherish longer. The average consumer buys up to 60% more yet keeps clothing half as long; imagine the positive impact of buying less and holding on to your clothing longer. Building a sustainable wardrobe has an immensely positive impact on the environment.
Why should you care about sustainable fashion as a brand and as a consumer?
Apart from taking care of the world we all share, reducing pollution, emissions, overconsumption of water, ensuring a brighter future for the next generation, there’s also the social responsibility to consider. Ensuring that the people behind your clothing are well taken care of, have a living wage and can care for their families, raising people out of poverty and providing the conditions for them and their communities to thrive.
What according to you is the most impactful new innovation in the fashion industry?
To single out one innovation would not do justice to the incredible work that is being done across the fashion value chain by many amazing innovators, brands and manufacturers. There are certainly innovations that have had great impact; such as new innovations in raw materials which decrease impact at the top of the chain and have positive implications down the line to the consumer, cotton for example needs a lot of water and chemicals to be grown and processed, there are a lot of alternatives available that are less impactful to our environment now. Also digital innovations like blockchain technology, can help increase transparency and traceability of a material, so that both producers as well as consumers know what they’re buying and how it was made.
Where do you think the future of fashion is headed towards?
We’ve seen an acceleration of trends that were inevitable, but brought into sharp focus due to the year we’ve had. The digitalisation of the fashion chain, due to travel restriction, supply chain transformation, because of the disruption to moving goods, and brands and manufacturers dealing with overstock. What we’ll see in the near future is more digital/virtual sales and garments, more on-demand and localised production of clothing and more seasonless collections as well as a surge in re-commerce and rental models. And while these trends will grow, in the long term, as fledgling innovations mature and scale and legislation and consumer pressure mounts, we’ll see more sustainable practices put into place throughout the supply chain and the fashion industry will begin to lower its impact.
What sources can you recommend to find out more about sustainable fashion and its impact?
I recently wrote an article on this for Vogue NL and I did some research on who I am following and why. To me it's important to hear different perspectives, to keep learning and supporting people and organisations who are trying to make a difference. There are a lot of amazing and inspiring people out there but to name a few I would highly recommend following: Marieke Eyskoot, Dutch author of This is a good guide, who is currently running a campaign on why brands are using shame to sell more products - eye opening perspective! And of my favorite journalists out there today Whitney Bauck of Fashionista, who often writes articles on the fashion industry that are inspiring. One of the recent articles I thought was a great one, is why we as consumers expect fashion brands to save the world, and is that fair or not?
What brand(s) do you find most exciting on SCOON and why?
I love love love my Evamoso leggings (I have the green bamboo one), they are comfy, soft and long (I have quite long legs) and they are great for yoga and pilates. I truly believe that if you take care of yourself, you can take care of your surroundings better. And I also have a Sissel Edelbo dress, I love the story behind it (made from old sari's), and the dress is super comfy, flowy and it feels like you're not wearing anything at all.