Sunday, 31 January 2016

Slow Fashion and Sustainability News: January Edition

It's only been a few weeks since we said goodbye to 2015 and welcomed in the start of a fresh new year, but as January draws to a close it's the perfect time to review (or re-do!) your New Year's resolutions and prepare for the coming season. This month was a busy one for the fashion industry, as designers around the world showed off their new collections during fashion week, retail giants IKEA and C&A announced positive developments in cotton sourcing, Adidas and H&M came out on top in two different global sustainability rankings, and THE GREEN SCENE made its debut on Oxfam's Fashion Blog!

The start of the month was full of New Year's resolutions, but rather than setting myself unrealistic goals, I resolved to start 2016 with a positive attitude and do more - cooking, socialising, exploring, and of course living a more conscious life. Smaller, more manageable changes seemed to be a common theme across the ethical fashion blogging community, including in two of my favourite posts by EcoCult and Eco Warrior Princess.

Living fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld made headlines for his take on 'eco' fashion for Chanel's Haute Couture SS16 presentation, which saw the models wearing garments embroidered with wood shavings and wearing cork shoes, in front of a recyclable and compostable wooden 'doll house'. Although critics praised the beauty and craftsmanship of the collection, none were particularly convinced of its eco credentials (The Telegraph claimed that it was "conceptually sustainable rather than sustainable in the strictest sense", whist Fashionista called "just another theme"). However, no-one can doubt the positive focus that Karl has generated on the topic of sustainability; according to him, "currently a fashion topic and an expression of our times”.

Chanel Haute Couture SS16, via the Telegraph
Berlin also hosted its own fashion week in January, which took place alongside key industry trade shows Premium, Panorama, and of course, the Ethical Fashion Show, with over 160 sustainably-minded brands from 19 countries. The theme of this year's show was "Circularity", and you can read my review of the show here, including my edit of ethical brands to watch, and key highlights from one of the lectures on the challenges of integrating green brands into a conventional fashion range.

In other industry news, IKEA has hit its target to source 100% of its cotton from sustainable sources, in partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative, of which it is a founding member. The global homeware retailer wants to shift the focus in to the textile industry towards more renewable sources, stating that "We need the industry to work with us to use more bast, cellulose-based and recycled fibres...It is a very clear move for us to work towards a more circular economy". Apparel giant C&A is also making progress on cotton sourcing by teaming up with WWF India, with the aim of helping 6,000 farmers gain organic certification. This will improve farmer livelihoods and create incentives for farmers to practice sustainable agriculture, therefore minimising the sale of land to other industries such as mining or for commercial development (more from Eco Textile News).

It's also been a positive month for H&M and Adidas, who came top in Toronto-based media and research group Corporate Knights' 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, and in the China textile rankings, which measures how well companies manage the environmental impacts of factories in their Chinese supply chains. Other brands that did well include Levi's and M&S, whilst Hugo Boss, Next, Victoria's Secret, Polo Ralph Lauren and Armani brought up the rear.

If you're in Germany any time soon and haven't yet seen the exhibition "Fast Fashion: The Dark Side of Fashion", I highly recommend a trip to the Hygiene Museum in Dresden, where it's running until the 3rd July 2016 - read my review here. The exhibition is the first to really explore the impact of our changing consumption habits on the planet and its people, with particular attention paid to developing countries such as India and Bangladesh, as well as innovative new fabrics and designers that put sustainability first. It also  provides a glimpse into the lifecycle of what happens to all the clothes we donate - read Fashionista's article on why this isn't always the best solution to the fast fashion problem.

The "Slow Fashion Lab" at the Fast Fashion exhibition in Dresden

Finally, in exciting GREEN SCENE news, you can now find more hints and tips on sustainable style on Oxfam's Fashion Blog, with lots of DIY and upcycling projects planned for the Spring! Check out my first post on easy ways to work the SS16 shirt trend, and stay tuned for more in the next few weeks!

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Picture by Dawn Nicole Designs


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