This year’s overarching theme for the FS fashion show was sustainability, and after attending the Sustainability in Fashion Panel it is clear how impactful this problem of fast fashion could become and how many ideas must begin being explored as soon as possible amongst consumers and fashion brands. Currently, fashion is the second largest plastic polluter and second largest carbon polluter. Fashion brands will continue to produce collection after collection and consumers will remain unaware of how much it actually costs to continually purchase new pieces. This practice will never be sustainable and throughout the panel Ieva Balciute, Magda Daniloaia, and Niamh Tuft discussed the importance of bringing sustainable practices back “on trend”, the role that the government and consumers must play, and why there is hope for the future.
All three of this year’s panelists understand the detrimental effects fast fashion are having and why change is required from both a policy standpoint and in the habits of consumers. Ieva Balciute and Magda Daniloaia are the founders are Aequem, a fashion brand that focuses on creating clothes that are organic, recycled, upcycled, or technology based. Niamh Tuft is a global network manager for fashion revolution, a global revolution championing systemic changes in the fashion industry. All of the panelists pointed out the lack of transparency in the supply chain and the need to return to old values regarding clothes. Many of the fast fashion labels are not fully aware of how far, nor where their supply chain goes, which should serve as a concern for consumers. We should all be asking tougher questions when shopping and demanding more information. As Niamh Tuft explained, we must also return to old ways of thinking. Before the era of fast fashion, people would buy higher quality clothing and understand how to care for it, repair it, and keep it for life. From a cultural standpoint, consumers need to stop the action of buying more and more as clothes and accessories go out of style or become worn over time.
When speaking about the ways to create change in the world of fast fashion, the panelists agreed that the key solutions will come from government policy changes, change in the way we behave as citizens, and finding new uses for materials. It is clear that despite the movements underway to reduce the amount of fast fashion, nothing really substantial will occur without government involvement. It cannot be a suggestion to shop sustainably, it must be enforced. Some of the ideas suggested by the panelists were to provide subsidies to organic farmers, in order to make up for the timely process of creating organic cotton, and giving people a monetary incentive to participate in sustainable practices such as giving tax breaks for repair and refurbishment in fashion sector. As citizens we will also play a role in improving the fast fashion culture by putting pressure on the fast fashion brands. These companies should constantly be questioned about their supply chain and the impact they are having.