“The Designer today should not help to produce more – he has to help produce fewer and better things. There is a beauty, an aesthetic and a philosophy of the less” Philippe Starck
What does sustainable fashion mean to you? It means different things to different people, and is perhaps to the mainstream still elusive, mystified, misunderstood. Really it’s very simple; the underlying thread of its many facets is constructed of the same fibre – care, consideration, respect, consciousness; for the planet, for the makers, for the consumer.
This of course presents a raft of challenges as we find ourselves in the midst of a seismic shift from the current mainstream system, driven purely by fleeting desires, profit margins and quick financial returns, with little or no regard for our planet or its inhabitants. Nascent brands that are naturally more aligned with eco-values have in some ways an easier task as sustainability defines and dictates every aspect of their business. It’s not just a gimmick or marketing spin, it’s the very flesh and bones of who they are.
When I started my brand GLOMAD the very architecture of the business was driven by a desire to create beautiful statement pieces that were treasured as a work of art for life, working closely with seamstresses, unleashing the inner beauty of those wearing the pieces and empowering those who make them.
Bigger brands have a greater task at hand. There are those who are cynical about their ability to engage genuinely with the conversation on sustainability. It is a common held perception that they are mainly engaged in posturing or ‘green-washing’. Their healthy marketing budgets give them plenty of scope to create a convincing argument. It’s a complex, multi-faceted issue that we have never faced before. Rather than focusing on berating the efforts of these global giants, our energy would be better spent looking at the positive initiatives being pioneered that can light the path ahead.
Patagonia announced last week an interesting new concept to shake us out of our throwaway mentality by extending the lives of garments we have already purchased. They are offering free repairs on any garments, (not uniquely Patagonia) through their ‘Worn Wear’ tour, a 50 stop, five country European Road Trip with the objective of changing the mindset of their customers to a ‘purchase for life’ mend and repair approach. They will also be offering lessons on how customers can do their own repairs.
Ultimately the idea is that this will not only capture the hearts and minds of consumers but also reduce water usage & CO2 emissions. This is a clever way to offer an interactive, educative service to customers, to change their relationship with clothes to the beautiful nurturing of a long-term relationship rather than a flash in the pan meaningless encounter. This way true love lies!
It would be really interesting to see some of the core luxury brands follow suit with similar initiatives, which on first glance may seem to fly in the face of their sales strategies, but they would ultimately strengthen consumer confidence in their brand and encourage higher ticket purchases. Indeed Fashion Doyenne and avid climate change campaigner Vivienne Westwood’s mantra “Buy less, choose better, make it last” is a bold statement for such a major industry player, but a necessary shift. In fact I remember when I worked at Westwood at the beginning of my career Vivienne would often wear the same outfit for several days, always saying that if you found something you really love and feel good in, wear it constantly! So let’s embrace the new sartorial minimalism.
About Alexandra Morris
Alexandra Morris is Founder & Director of Luxury beachwear and resort wear label GLOMAD www.glomadbeachwear.com
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