Sustainable fashion. What do you think of when you hear this? I was thinking fabric made out of mushrooms and second-hand clothing. At the SDGs Network MeetUp, I discovered that it can indeed be all of this and also so much more. From our five panel speakers myself and Ilma (who were hosting the event) and all our participants got to hear of several different facets to the wide topic of sustainable fashion and engage in a lively discussion.
We had the pleasure of hearing the views of:
Roberta Lee, who is a sustainable stylist and have created the Ethical fashion directory. She encourages all her clients to wear each item of clothing at least a hundred times and she has a vision of a world where working with a stylist is not considered elite but part of what we do to find our style and thereby shopping more ethically and consciously.
Lulu O’Connor, the clothes doctor who would like to see repairing and altering becoming mainstream again (like it used to be when our parents and grandparents grew up). Because as Lulu says, repairing is part of the natural journey of a garment.
Cara Lester-Smith representing the initiative Stop Shop Challenge. Cara and Rochelle, the duo behind the online initiative, are fashion fanatics and both feel passionately about equality, sustainability and creating an eco-friendlier environment. I personally engaged in a no-new-clothes-for-a-year challenge two years ago and it's a brilliant way to brake the shopping habit and appreciate what you have already got.
Irene De Pasquale from Betsy's Closet Swap Shop, an initiative which encourages and arranges events where you can swap those unwanted clothes in your own wardrobe for something new to you, from someone else’s wardrobe, making unwanted clothes used and loved again. She would love to have a community hub of knitting, sowing and swishing, educating children why this is great for the planet and importantly to show how fun it can be.
And, finally, Kenny Jackson-Forest, the fifth speaker panel member adding a little to the gender balance of this almost all-female speaker event, representing Eluxe - the first ever sustainable fashion magazine, dreaming of a world where sustainable fashion is the norm.
It struck me how all these different approaches together are part of a bigger system to make the huge industry of fashion sustainable. And indeed, you might even ask if it is possible to make the fashion industry sustainable, with the rise of so-called fast fashion and daunting facts like Britons binning clothes worth £12.5 billion in 2017. That is a staggering 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill!
All speakers warmly recommended “The True Cost” for anyone who hasn’t seen it already. It is a ground-breaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Despite the huge issues, all our panelists were very positive, noticing increased awareness and action, leading to a shift away from fast fashion and towards more sustainable business models.
There was so much to take in; from discussions on man-made fabric vs natural fabric, wearing items for longer, designing for consumption, to holding a clothing diary, wearing 10 pieces of clothing over 10 days to discover new combinations in addition to the main passions of our speakers relating to their business model or initiative.
Zero.waste.London summarised it brilliantly on Instagram! Thank you Zero.waste.London and I am sharing the quote here as it also reflects the view of one of our attendees:
Overall, the main message for me was to be more aware and think about what sustainable fashion is to you personally and how this aligns with your values, making steps of change accordingly.
I was also super impressed by the young woman in our audience who had created her own jacket out of textile waste – amazing!
To learn more and keep up to date with the latest sustainability trends and get inspiration on how you can make a difference for a more sustainable wardrobe, check out our speakers on social media and given them a follow:
@betsysclosetswapshop @stopshopchallenge @robertastylelee @clothes.doctor @eluxemagazine
To join us at a future SDG Network MeetUp event, register here: