Before we really get going with 2018, I thought I'd jot down my key learnings from 2017 - the year that put the sustainable fashion in the spotlight.
"Sustainable" and "ethical", I used to hate using these words as adjectives to describe the type of fashion I was into, because it immediately sounds like shit fashion. Hemp, daggy, brown and boring. Not today, today I say it loud and proud! Because, ladies, in 2017 sustainable fashion got pretty damn sexy!
So, what did I learn in 2017.
1. Sustainable fashion got press
2017 was the year luxury fashion got onboard the sustainability train, because ethical fashion is higher than ever on the agenda. From Viktor and Rolf Couture collections being completely up-cycled using only vintage dead stock fabrics to Gucci going fur free!
When luxury fashion got involved, sustainability got a major boost in the press from Paris and NY Fashion Week to celebrities wearing sustainable fashion on the red carpet.
Celebrities are getting the word out and advocating for a better fashion future. In order to educate consumers about sustainable fashion it's important to spread the word far and wide, the best way to do this is celebrity endorsements. It's an old school approach to a 21st century problem. Celebrities who are nailing this are Emma Watson (so much love for her), Stella McCartney, Anna Hathaway, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isobel Lucas.
2. Product quality and style will always win
Sustainability alone will not sell products, whether that be clothing, shoes, homewear, or beauty products. Essentially, we need more than conscious reasons to buy better. We need quality and style. You have never walked into a store, spotted a dress from across the room and with love hearts in your eyes said "wow, that dress looks really ethical" nope.
Megan from Walk. Sew. Good. explained "I came to understand that there is a growing shift away from cause marketing and instead brands are focusing on making really great products that people buy because they fall in love with the product itself rather than buying out of pity".
The brands that have been most successful at pushing sustainable products are the ones that have put design — not ethics — at the forefront of their messaging.
3. Circular fashion
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I believe the future relies on a circular fashion system, which ultimately comes down to reusing, repairing, reselling, recycling and reducing.
Today's linear “take, make, dispose” economic model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. It is a model that is reaching its physical limits. Taking an approach of a circular system that restores and regenerates materials will offer new opportunities for innovative design, increased customer engagement and capture economic value.
4. Alternative fabrics innovations
Within the fashion industry there is a plethora of exciting fashion innovations that embrace the circular economy model. Fish, Hemp, Bananas, grapes, coffee, pineapple, lotus, wine... yes wine, are all natural resources that can be turned into sustainable textiles.
Dwindling resources through resource-intensive natural fibres like cotton and the environmental impact of petroleum-based fibres like acrylic, polyester, nylon and spandex, means it is about time for the textile and apparel industry to look for sustainable alternatives and to prove that the production of textiles and clothing does not have to pollute the environment.
For example, the recent winners of an Ellen Macarthur Foundation prize, have found that the fibres and oils from winemaking leftovers is ideal for making 100 percent vegetable leather.
THAT'S A WRAP!
To summarise, there is an incredible opportunity in 2018 to build awareness, engage more, and keep pushing for a dramatic change in how we make clothes and how consumers are educated.
We now have a slightly better understanding of the issues surrounding ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry. The groundwork of awareness has been laid, we have a stable platform for 2018 to start new projects and collaborations in all areas.