This time of year, in the beautiful month of may, all the big names of the fashion industry come together in Copenhagen to discuss, share, and inspire each other in the field of sustainability. But most of all they are meant to bring forth solutions on how to improve the shortcomings and dangers this branch of industry constitutes.
However, we, as a part of the Global Fashion Agenda are not happy with the lack of ambition and process by many of the participating brands. We can see that many brands don’t live up to their responsibility, because their main concern is a flourishing fashion industry and not the well being of our planet. There are no specific terms a company has to fulfill to become a part of the GFA, which makes it easy to appear green, while not actually engaging in sustainable activities.
There is this initiative called the 2020 Circular Fashion Commitment Targets, which ELSK is participating in to improve our environmental footprint. We are looking to recycle clothes sold by us, donating money earned from reselling used ELSK garments to NGOs that are comitted to environmental protection, and making 20% of our collection out of used garment fibers. And all of that by 2020. We know it’s ambitious, but it’s necessary right? Unfortunately, when we take a look around this kind of effort seems pretty rare in the manufactoring sector.
There are critics out there who feel the same way, such as Kate Fletcher who co-founded the Unit of Concerned Researchers in Fashion. Her argument is that there is a kind of greenwashing going on, where corporations can appear environmentally aware without acting the part. The problem with promoting the “green” path of recycling as a get-out-of-jail-free-card is that it still allows companies to over-produce and customers to over-consume. As long as this imbalance remains unacknowledged real change will not happen. Because poorly fabricated clothes are difficult, if not impossible to recycle. As long as fast fashion rules the industry this viscious cycle will continue.
To say it bluntly: most major corporations want to keep feeding that cash cow, but in a “sustainable” way, using organic or recycled money so as not to compromise the profits of the industry. The only problem is that this approach will not save the planet, because no matter how sustainably clothing is produced, it will always be a harmful process in that it causes pollution and takes resources from a very tired mother nature. Less pollution in our critical position is still too much pollution.
It is a difficult balance having a company like we do. Of course, we want the business to do well, but we also want to harm the planet less. And it is a good thing that initiatives like the GFA exist to raise awareness, and bring people together to work for that common goal of sustainability in fashion. But we don’t see the needed change happening, which is why we want to put our idea of bringing about change out there:
We want to encourage you to buy less, and buy better.
Say goodbye to fast fashion, and find that sweater that will share 10 years of living life and adventures with you. Get into the spirit of fixing what is broken, because it is worth holding on to. Maybe the next time your fingers itch for a shopping spree find your local second hand shops instead of those big chains. It’s up to us to make a change, because events such as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit prove again how slowly profit oriented companies are willing to address the uncomfortable issues that are so long overdue.
Following Else Skjolds argument, who was also part of the critical crowd in Copenhagen, we need to change the story around todays fashion. There is a clear need to slow down production and introduce better quality products instead of keeping the masses of clothes coming. So yes, by all means, let’s talk about that.