As mentioned in the previous post, there is already quite a bit that can be done in order to demonstrate that we are conscientious consumers of fashion. The fashion revolution organisation, however, takes the action that we can consider just that extra step further, as we can see from this link which equips questioning customers with the tools to contact brands.
Whether we make use of the ready-made e-mail or customised Twitter or Instagram posts, we are sending a message to creators of fashion – that it is not acceptable to us, in this day and age, to support brands that may be condoning human misery and danger, as well as damage to our planet.
Even a cursory glance at the organisation’s main information section will yield crucial information to Maltesers wishing to involve themselves in the pursuit for knowledge about the origins of our clothing. Happily, Malta has made its presence felt and is represented in the association by a team of three:- Tamara Fenech, who heads the team and is currently specialising in sustainability in fashion at Master’s level in Berlin, Roberta Micallef, a journalism student who heads the communications section of the team and is also highly interested in sustainability, and Francesca Pecci, who brings her experience in event coordination and planning to bear on the organisation of events for the group.
All of this begs the question as to what, precisely, the brands themselves can do in order to determine how their enterprise affects society and ecology in positive, or, at least, less negative, ways. We have already seen how a number of designers have taken the notion of upcycling fabrics or former pieces of their own on board. In a more concrete manner, some well-known makes, such as Levis, have incorporated the principle ideas of sustainability into their production – in other words, the three rs – reuse, repair and recycle. (There is also reduce, but let’s take what we can!) For instance, most Levi’s stores are equipped with their own tailor, putting into action the second of the above mentioned sustainability criteria.
Similarly, H&M branches have taken it upon themselves to accumulate discarded or unwanted clothes from stores across the globe. Those in mint condition are then resold, whereas clothing items in a less than pristine state is dismantled and find new life as different articles. Leftover fabric from manufacturing pieces are also recycled and used for completely dissimilar items. If none of these options are feasible in any shape or form, then the undesirable material is converted into energy.
Now that’s affirmative action consumers can actually get behind and cheer on. In addition to this, the idea of brands exhibiting CSR (corporate social responsibility) is being touted as one of the most important ways forward in order to ensure the fair treatment of employees in manufacturing concerns worldwide. Melissa Wheeler, one of the contributors to the Fashion Revolution association’s website, highlights this fact in her article about the contribution of denim producers to the sustainability issue. She notes that, at a key trade fair held earlier this year, founders of the event itself lamented the fact that numerous denim producers have yet to abide by the notion of CSR. The latter will, however, soon become a standard feature of the manner in which production is carried out. Yet another compelling factor to take into consideration here is the idea of “vertical integration” – the growing tendency for large companies to take over supply chains and safeguard the sharing and transmitting of skills.
Returning once more to the local scene, more has been happening on the fashion revolution front than a lot of people may be aware of. For instance, the previous blog posts have featured the work of four extremely talented local and locally-based designers, all of whom display an ethical slant in their designs. While Martina Guillamier makes use of vintage materials in some of her creations, for example, Monika Kopcilova breathes new life into pieces that she finds. All four give something back to the community in their way of making a living by creating beautiful objects – and that should matter to today’s consumer. Another inventive mind who deals solely in upcycled fashion pieces is Shannon Grech. In addition to repurposing pre-loved items in her own novel, inimitable way, Grech also played her part in environmental fashion during the eagerly-awaited annual Earth Garden Festival at the beginning of the month, where she shared a stand with the Fashion Revolution local team, explaining her own philosophy towards garment-redefinition and also offering her repairing skills to visitors for free. See Shannon in action by clicking on this link.
Lastly, the practice of meeting like-minded individuals who are concerned about eco-fashion and swapping clothes is slowly but surely taking root on our island. A number of Facebook events have been set up to this effect, most notably during Fashion Revolution week itself, which took place at the end of April.
We can all find some manner of subscribing to the notion of the ethical production of fashion items, all without compromising our own unique sense of style. We can all participate in the fashion revolution, if we really wish to.