life style is the only way
What inspired me to write this post is an email I got from one of my future clients saying: 'I am a man, 34 and I would love to get a personal styling from you. By the end of the session I would love to have a few ethical outfits that me and my environment feel comfortable with.' Exactly: me and my environment. Approaching sustainable fashion simply as a wardrobe full of organic cotton or recycled polyester is not the point that is going to make any difference. A more sustainable wardrobe means developing your personal style and mixing your carefully selected favourites, may they be rented, borrowed, secondhand, vintage, DIY, tailored, custom-made, ethically made, locally made, high quality, timeless, and/or environmentally manufactured. Mixing pieces in a responsible way according to your own personal taste, life and people who surround you will get you there.
As any visionary, or a game changer will agree: change brings opportunity. The shift in consumer attitudes opens an enormous white space where any brand — old or new, high end or high street - can use to make things happen. Yes, I believe we do not need to separate ourselves from the fast fashion brands, we need to collaborate with the ones that want to change and make it difficult for the ones that don't. This, because I don’t think that fast fashion will ever fully disappear, just like organic food hasn’t displaced all of the fast food, but I do believe that educated and compassionate consumers will change what the fashion industry looks like in the next decade.
All about values
The biggest realisation that everyone in the industry and out for it came to realise that it is not only the active environmentally aware consumer that is going to be willing to spend more on the clothing that has been made in an ethically responsible way, it is the fashion lover who is going to fall in love with item, the story and the vision of the brand that is going to make an economical and behavioural impact. This is not specific to sustainability – our habits, impulses, and desire for comfort and convenience have trouble competing with even our best intentions and dearly held beliefs. This is where the ones more advanced in ethical fashion, can help the others by sharing information in order for all of us to be able to apply it in every day life. Boston Consulting Group found that 50% of the 4,000 13 to 34 year-olds believe brands “say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in." We are all interconnected, this is where the biggest opportunities for everyone in this business come in. Not all who wander are lost, remember that!
Pop culture is healing
As Vanessa Friedman, who I love, said during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2016: 'In order to succeed we need to find a way to include sustainable fashion into our pop culture. Traceability and the breakdown that each brand might give to any consumer interested, is not going to make them buy more, because it is too boring or too technical. Pop culture is going to make it desirable!" Keeping this in mind, what this amazing woman, visionary and fashion critic / journalist said we need to remember that by purchasing sustainable fashion, we promote a better self-image. This is the message that we need to project towards customers who are now not even aware of how important it is that sustainable fashion exists and the big brands and retailers that have a huge impact, but just go with the flow. I know for sure that in these times constant change and our search for balance is very tiring, but the industry players that are failing to adapt to the demand of the millennials about transparency, traceability brought in a desirable way are risking to lose relevance. More-so the message can go further than that by pointing out that to love shopping is not to love fashion. Rather, showing your unique style and fashion sense by wearing sustainable fashion you are showing the world that you care about others. As simple as that.
What do we need
The point is, it's never enough to just create awareness - although look how far we've come because of that - talking about creating your personal style, or curating our wardrobes is not going to create an impact that we are all aiming for. The problem here is the fact that not all of us are on the same page nor as a consumer, nor as retailers. Not of us are willing to do the research with the same depth and intensity. But what then happens is that we all admire designer dresses, but go and buy cheap fast versions of it, made in a way that nobody is proud of. Therefore the key here is to have professionals collaborating to create more availability of chic and easy collections in every retail store on the high street. These perfect pieces for people could use to build their wardrobes. These don't have to be basics, but timeless pieces for daily life that are well made and could be used in a most multi functional way. And as the economic opportunity with sustainability is going to grow the willingness to expand this collection is going to become more of a priority. So, now is the time to start! Above all of that and to conclude this post I believe that the idea of capsule collections linked to a celebrity needs some rethinking too. As we ask the consumers to change their ways of 'consuming' we (people who work in the fashion industry) need to change the way we present it. With this I mean that a capsule collection is not only an edit of clothing due to the tastes of the celebrity: it needs to be a selection of multi usable, combinable, timeless and high quality clothes that will help consumers create these wardrobes, and have a great basis to build on. There is definitely an opportunity for stylists and photo production houses to join forces and help brands and retailers to represent the clothes in a reusable and recombinable way tailored to each brand or retailer's customer.