Updated: Aug 20, 2020
I began a new journey last Fall at The Fashion Institute of Technology taking their Sustainable Design Entrepreneur Certificate program. I started this last year when I was collaborating with two industry people on what it would take to start a sustainable baby apparel company. The project has since been shelved, however I was so intrigued by this whole world of sustainability and what it means in the Fashion industry that I continued to work through the certificate program. Not only am I learning so much but I have made some amazing contacts of like minded industry people that I stay in contact with on a regular basis. I am currently about halfway through this program. The more classes I take the more I realize that there is no simple solution.
Over the span of thirty years designing apparel I have seen some amazing changes and not so many amazing changes. The Fashion Industry contributes to around 10% of all global carbon emissions. Fashion produces 150 billion garments per year, 60% of all apparel end up in a landfill in the first year of their lifecycle. Hard to see when you are shopping for the latest or cutest pair of jeans or top. How do we separate our need of new fashions that emit a certain feeling when we make these purchases? How do we become that global embassador when all we want is that new fabulous trend right Jumpsuit? Such a tough question and not an easy answer. We only see the tip of the iceberg (if any are left by 2050) on these matter I can't possibly touch on all aspects of how damaging the industry can be to our environment in one post.
I was so fortunate to recently be interviewed by Philocalistmag an online magazine that was started and created by two dynamic young women, Marianna and Jade. They asked me a very poignant question. " Do you think that the Fashion industry can become 100% sustainable?" I said I thought that this would be highly unlikely, but this is what I do know. Through awarenesses and social change does a practice become mainstream. I have seen so many more brands and companies using more sustainable practices. Hopefully this will become the "Norm" We discussed their philosophy and my experience in the Fashion Industry. We discussed how vintage or thrift shopping was one solution. The fashion resale market is expanding, growing 21 times faster than the retail market over the past three years, according to research from retail analytics firm GlobalData. How does that solve the problem for the other retail companies that need Sales to survive?
When we discuss sustainability this is a big umbrella with many components underneath it.
What does a Fashion company stand for? Is it being Organic, or sustainable in their fabrics?
Organic doesn't necessarily mean sustainable and sustainable doesn't necessarily mean organic. Do they choose to practice Fair Trade? Concerned about the farmers and their living? Concerned with the conditions of their factories and how they treat their workers?
Do they track their garments with tracking technology to track the lifecycle of their products (where do there garments end up?) Do they stand for Animal cruelty products? Only using non animal products, maybe investing in the use of new materials such as Pinatex as one example (pineapples made into vegan leather) Do these companies have certain certifications?Are they GOTS certified, cradle to cradle certified, Oeko Tex certified... Your head can spin with all these factors.
Many of the Fashion Companies that are marketing themselves as sustainable do so through their website and products. This is where you as a Consumer you can really educate yourself on a company's philosophy and practices. Are they "greenwashing" Telling a great story but with no real facts? As we shop in stores we can notice certifications on tags , when we shop online we can look for their sustainable statements, pledges and fabrics they use for their garments on their websites.
One of my most favorite Children's wear companies I fell in love with recently was Art & Eden. I had the opportunity to sit with the creator of this brand a few months ago to discuss how they were able to design amazing, fun kids apparel while having a strong sustainable strategy. Some of my other favorite kids brands that practice sustainability are: Stella McCartney kids, Hope and Henry, Primary, H&M conscious collection, Patagonia Kids
In todays market more brands are figuring out how to be cute and not resemble a potato sack while being sustainable. My design board was inspired by the cute styles some of these brands have to offer. This only represents a very small group of brands. There is a huge growing market of Children's wear brands that are offering sustainable, organic and transparent practices. It's amazing how across the board we can see how brands often work together for a mix and matchable look. You can read about how this works here in my last blog post when I explained my design process and how trends emerge. Take a look and what I have merchandised together, for both boy and girl!