TAKING RESPONSIBILITY AND  VOTING WITH YOUR WALLET

The most frequently addressed topic when talking and listening to people about sustainable fashion, was the role of consumers. Whether we talked to designers or listened to the panel discussions, the influence of current and past consumption patterns was an omnipresent topic.

When looking at articles and developments on social media the past years, there appears to be an increased awareness of consuming sustainably, both regarding consumption in general and fashion consumption in particular. Interestingly, thredUP has recently reported a strong increase in consumption of second-hand fashion between 2017 and 2019, including a 46% growth for the 18 to 24 year-old American women. Thus, there seems to be a change not only in awareness of sustainability but also in consumption patterns towards consuming existing and used garments, especially among young people.

In the panel discussion “10 Years of Sustainability in Fashion — What’s Next Now?”, consumption was a central topic as well. Here, several of the discussant pointed out that it is far from the majority of consumers, who actively question the morality and sustainability of the products they buy. As Magdalena Schaffrin – co-founder of the Green Showroom at the Berlin Fashion Week and organiser of NEONYT – said, “I don’t think we consider moral questions while consuming and I don’t think it is to expect from consumers either”. This point was widely agreed upon in the panel discussion.

Orsola de Castro – founder and creative director of Fashion Revolution – pointed out, the story the past 10 years has been that the power and responsibility is in the hands of the consumer; a story which she described as “this voting with your wallet crap”.

Orsola de Castro

So while we as consumers may be able to put pressure on brands, industry actors, and politicians, this pressure does not necessarily result in the big shift in the industry or mean that the moral responsibility should lie solely on us. The question is, who indeed has the responsibility to push for real, substantial change?

The discussants in the panel “10 Years of Sustainability in Fashion” agreed that they were more optimistic about making fashion sustainable 10 years ago. It is disappointing that the fashion industry is still among the most polluting industries and that the market to a greater extent than previously is dominated by higher quantities of cheap, poor quality clothing. This pressures small and local producers to offer their product for a price too low to pay the costs of production and a reasonable living wage, as well as generates and excess amount of poor-quality clothing which ends up polluting the environment. Therefore, the real responsibility, as Magdalena Schaffrin put it “lies with the companies, platforms and change-makers such as us”.

Therefore, the most positive insight from NEONYT was to experience that some of these companies indeed do make a great effort to take responsibility! This not only concerns the production process, but also the whole lifecycle of a garment or accessory and how the brand can encourage the customer to consume sustainably.

One example of how to incorporate sustainability in fashion is our brand ZIVELI .

In a conversation at NEONYT, founder and designer, Danya Weevers, emphasised the importance of durability and minimalism. Our slow-fashion brand ZIVELI, offers two collections a year with timeless items, which are all made by hand, and can be worn during all seasons. Furthermore, all our products are made with natural fibres, and with proper care, they can last you a life time.

While there are many challenges to making fashion sustainable, NEONYT was a positive and hopeful view into the future. Several brands had addressed the paradoxes of sustainable fashion head-on by paying close attention to the life-cycle of the garment and accessories and its key components. Even more important was the insights that making fashion sustainable cannot only be about implementing clever technologies and sustainable raw materials and relying on consumers to vote with their wallets. The big shift happens when brands and industry actors take responsibility, and at NEONYT some of these showed how to do this: by offering alternative consumption models and pushing for political and societal change!

At ZIVELI we are doing our bit to craft sustainable products, and to educate our customers. Now it is your turn and your responsibility as consumers to vote with your wallets.

Log on to http://www.ziveli.in to choose right

#beboldforchange #livesustainable

Blog inspired by Christina Novak Hansen

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