Fashion’s big potential as a sustainability role model – Vogue Business

Brands have rolled out sustainability plans en masse in recent years, but they tend to be formal reports that, often by design, do not engage their customers directly in a meaningful way. If anything, brands have worked hard to blend sustainable product attributes into the background, because while consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable fashion, most are not likely to buy something that “looks” eco-friendly compared to a mainstream runway style. Some brands, such as Reformation, Girlfriend Collective and Patagonia, have found success in marketing their sustainability policies; many others, catching onto the growing demand, make marketing claims that may or may not be substantiated.

However authentic and effective the messaging is, though, the information largely only reaches the customers who are actively looking for it. What fashion has an opportunity to do, experts say, is bring sustainability to a larger audience — encouraging them to seek it in the products they buy, but also to embrace it as a value and priority in their daily lives. To some degree, this is something Stella McCartney has done for years, most recently during COP26, where she hosted a Future of Fashion installation to showcase some of the next-generation materials she has been designing with and advocating for. Along with the British Fashion Council and other brands including Burberry and Phoebe English, McCartney also participated in the Great Fashion for Climate Action campaign, aimed at using fashion innovation to “encourage the world to ‘see things differently’”. A growing number of designers, companies and initiatives are now also working toward this, and following COP26, are poised to gain momentum quickly.

“Fashion is one of the most powerful cultural curators of our societies. Fashion helps define what’s sexy and hot, what’s cool and what’s not,” says Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Canopy. “The whole world has been slow on the uptake of solutions, including fashion. But this is a turnaround decade and coming out of COP, [there’s] no better time than the present for fashion leaders, brands and producers to lean in and scale solutions.”

Sustainability’s cool factor

The Good Life 2030 campaign is an effort by advertising industry professionals, with input from some of the same people who contributed to the updated Fashion Charter. The aim is to shift public perceptions of what success and “a good life” look like — towards a greater sense of connectedness and away from a reliance on material abundance and growth, which it says has been the metric for too long. “No wonder ‘sustainability’ doesn’t connect with people: it sounds like compromise and living with less,” the website says. “People in our industry are skillful at defining what society finds attractive and compelling. What if these skills were used to create alternative visions of ‘a good life’ in the future? Ones that are about connection not just consumption?”


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PIK turns over materials to enhance Mandaluyong City’s community garden. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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