Calling for action, but without making a firm commitment: the role of fashion in climate change

  • By:karen-millen

30

04/2022

Montage made with the image of Vivienne Westwood's fall-winter 2021-22 collection, in which the Sloane bag appears with the print +5° in reference to global warming.Photo: 'COLLAGE' MADE WITH AN IMAGE OF ALICE DELLAL FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD AND PHOTOS BY GETTY IMAGES

The industry strongly urged change. But to reduce income, not a word.

Rafa RodriguezTOP

What happens in Glasgow, stays in Glasgow. The rented suit with which Boris Johnson appeared on the opening day of COP26, an Oliver Brown 100% wool, in Eaton gray, for almost 600 euros that can be managed for only 40 a day, courtesy of the My Wardobre HQ portal. The T-shirt with the legend “Climate Optimist Big Head” worn by the journalist Dana Thomas, celebrated author of Fashionopolis. The price of fast fashion and the future of clothing (Superflua editorial, 2019), in selfies to save. The exchange market set up by the Global Fashion Exchange eco-consultant of the very traveler activist Patrick Duffy, who a week was wearing hearts of palm in the Galapagos (a few planes through). Mushrooms by designer Stella McCartney. Good intentions and purposes of amendment.

There is not much to scratch in the conclusions of the last United Nations climate summit, neither for the industry in general nor for the fashion sector in particular. If anything, more of the same: calls to action, but no firm commitments. We want to. We urge. Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has finally signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, established during the COP24 in Poland, in 2018, which seeks zero impact by 2050. The undersigned, 40 entities and 130 brands, Among those that already included Chanel, Burberry, Inditex or the different assets of the Kering group, they have realized that with the first objectives set for nine years from now they are not going anywhere. It turns out that in 2030, carbon emissions from textiles will have reached 2.7 billion tons and their waste, 60% more. So that 30% of planned cuts is no longer valid: it is necessary to reduce by half, according to strictly scientific criteria, to reach the goal. The updating of the Charter also suddenly includes the need to include producers and suppliers in the effort. But as businesswoman (and poet) Rubana Huq, former president of the Bangladesh Textile Producers and Exporters Association, put it in one of the panel discussions, “either they really count on us to develop a joint strategy or this is not going to work”.

Gucci Vault, concept store of vintage and second-hand pieces chosen by Alessandro Michele. Photo: MAX SIEDENTOPF / GUCCI

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Apparently, one of the new favorite terms of the fashion agents present at the summit was 'proximity'. Make more or less close to your country, that is. That a similar issue, which has been talked about for at least a couple of years before the pandemic, has sounded novel in Glasgow is a bit of a rip-off.

The same goes for resale and second hand: we already knew about it. Just ask consumers, the ones Stella McCartney considers deliberately oblivious to the ecological impact of her compulsive buying habits. "I think people don't want to identify such a beautiful and escapist industry with environmental damage," she said at another of the meetings. She designs beautiful and dreamy sustainable garments not suitable for all budgets. The Beatle's daughter —Lagerfeld dixit— took the opportunity to debut at the COP with an exhibition in an art gallery dedicated to bio-alternative materials, including Mylo, a fake skin made from mushrooms. Developed by the startup Bolt Technology in 2018, the fiber stars in the new version of the creator's Frayme bag, the star accessory of her spring-summer 2022 collection (in the previous one, a top and pants were seen that were never marketed). Retail price: more than 1,000 euros. The Adidas Stan Smith in Mylo, previewed in April, will be out at the end of December. Price yet to be confirmed.

'Look' from the Stella McCartney fall-winter 2021-22 collection. Photo: COURTESY OF STELLA MCCARTNEY/IMAXTREE

“Blaming the consumer is dangerous. There is this idea that the industry, or those who make it, and the buyer are separate entities, which do not touch. That doesn't make sense to me. Those of us in the fashion business make mistakes just like the rest, but it is our obligation to lead the change that society wants”, British designer Patrick McDowell tells S Moda. The young creative director of sustainability of the Italian brand Pinko (he is only 25 years old), right now a name of sociopolitical reference to address the new dynamics that are required of the system, was not in Glasgow —and that the British Fashion Council took advantage of the opportunity to display in a showcase format the latest in circular economy from its associates, as part of its GREAT green program—, but it is clear: “I think we must be careful with the language and how we refer to the climate situation. There's a lot of anxiety about trying to say the right thing, and that sometimes leads to doing nothing in the end. Actually, the COP26 has seemed interesting to me, not because of the results, but because there the different parts of the problem have been found to see how to join forces for the same cause. For me, the future lies in cross-pollination between industries, professions and backgrounds that ensure inclusive environmental solutions”. In this case, McDowell warns: “The big problem is that fashion is a business model based on growth, which measures its success by increasing sales and product units. It is created without knowing if it is going to be sold, hence so much waste. As long as that elephant is still in the china shop, let's not redesign the dressing experience and change the educational system, there is little that needs to be done."

Catholic Fairytales Collection by Patrick McDowell. Photo: Aaron Bird @shotbyaaronamous / PATRICK MCDOWELL

Tags: climate change|environment|Sustainable fashion|sustainability

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Calling for action, but without making a firm commitment: the role of fashion in climate change
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