From clothing to packaging our Intern Honor noted inspiring industry changes this summer...
Iggesund Paper Board, not quite the fashion cupboard at a huge publication in central London, but it is where I’ve spent six weeks of my summer on a local placement. Before this, I had a job interview with department store giant, Marks & Spencer…but what’s the correlation? Whilst writing for The White T-Shirt Co I have become immersed in the world of ethics and sustainability and brilliantly, it seems to be trending…
The truth is, we seem to be learning. The world is heading in the right direction and we’re educating ourselves in the importance of sustainability – but is the fashion industry listening?
It comes a week after the news broke of a mission to rid the world of petrol and diesel cars by 2040; Iggesund produce cardboard with sustainability at its heart, making the company one of the world’s sustainability leaders, and M&S? They’re coming to Iggesund for recyclable food packaging that isn’t foil and are committed to sending zero waste to landfill.
Yet, the world’s second most polluting industry after oil and gas – fashion - faces the stark reality that by 2030 global garment production will increase by 63%, in response to the planet’s growing population. However, the countless issues concerning the production of fashion cannot increase with it: fossil fuels burned; chemicals released; the landfill sites brimming with discarded clothes. Attempting to shift the deep-rooted ways of the entire clothing industry seems a daunting if not impossible task, though there is hope. It comes in the form of the younger generation, fresh thinking, millennial consumers demanding change and driving a shift in attitudes. Sustainable clothing is, finally, being seen as a desirable option, with a new wave of cool brands rejuvenating the market and a collection of young figures championing them.
Yet, despite the pioneers in forward thinking fashion, sadly it still seems unthinkable that mass-produced high street fashion will be abandoned for an earth-conscious alternative. Something has to give. Eva Kruse, chief executive of Global Fashion Agenda said that “Sustainability or responsible innovation is by far the biggest trend in the industry right now,”. Eva organises the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, bringing together executives to talk about sustainability in the industry.
This year’s summit’s call to action: summarised in their Pulse Report, appealed to fashion brands and retailers to adopt circular systems. The basis of circular systems is collection, reuse and recycling of garments, feeding them back into the manufacturing process (as does Iggesund with unwanted board!) Ultimately making the existing, incredibly wasteful model of “take, make, dispose” obsolete.
So retailers such as H&M take a step in what seems like the right direction, aiming to operate under a fully circular model by 2030 – only using recycled materials in its garment production. Fashion's nonconformist queen, Dame Vivienne Westwood, has always vocalized her strong ecological beliefs and her concerns about mass production. Again this summer Vivienne highlighted this in her shows and calls out for brands and shoppers to concentrate on producing "quality not quantity" hopefully, other high profile brands will follow suit.
Still, younger customers’ burgeoning interest in ethical issues – and the breadth of niche brands launching to meet that demand (check out my faves Veja and Matt & Nat for amazing shoes and accessories!) – offers a gleam of light. People are actively looking to make a change. They want to know more about the “how” and the “who” behind the clothes they wear – to understand the story behind their wardrobes.
The White T-shirt Co have almost reached their zero plastic objective and working hard on zero waste - watch this space!