April 21, 2011

A Tribute to Our Earth

In celebration of Earth month, today's blog post is dedicated to the latest events focused on improving sustainable and ethical practices within the fashion community. Like Julie Gilhart states in her most recent talk at Afingo's Fashion Forum at FIT, the best strategy to promote eco and social consciousness is through education. Through consulting, university lectures, media, and public conferences, people of all backgrounds are recognizing that sustainable fashion cannot move forward solely by smart, attractive branding and marketing tactics. Designers, industry insiders, and consumers alike must first be educated and understand the ins and outs of what truly defines sustainability in order to really embrace it and take things to the next level. 

Earlier this month, Fortune held it's annual Brainstorm Green Conference. Bringing in some of the world's best thought leaders together, the event allowed them to explore "innovative ways companies can drive sustainability-based transformative change initiatives." At this three day event, all issues ranging from climate policy, green packaging, coal, green marketing, China, to electric cars were brought out in the open for discussion. In case you missed it, selected videos from the event are available via their website. Click here to get started!

                                                  photo via: MBF Trend Consulting 

More recently, New York's Fordham University also introduced it's 1st Annual Fashion Law Institute Symposium this past Friday. Discussing various topics such as new developments of eco-friendly strategies, preventions of greenwashing, and production concerns in today's economy, the conference brought together fashion industry experts from all areas to speak about today's most pressing subjects. Panelists included representatives from LVMH, Garment Center Supplier Association, BCBG, Harper's Bazaar, Zero Maria Cornejo, and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, just to name a few.

New courses are also being developed in universities so students and working professionals are better informed in adapting to today's environment and able to respond with innovative design and exciting new directions. California College of Arts newest offering in professional development, the Fashion Sustainability Workshop Series and Certificate Program, is now accepting applications. This unique series focuses on teaching new tools and strategies by integrating principles of ecology and applied to real-world projects. The faculty list is extremely established, including leading visionaries such as Bob Adams, designer/farmer and IDEO Fellow; Timo Rissanen, pioneer in no-waste pattern cutting and coeditor of Fashioning the Future; and Kate Fletcher, author of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles:Design Journeys. However, this is not the school's first effort in pushing sustainability forward. Graduates of the school have gone to work with eco-friendly brands such as Natalie Chanin and Loomstate, or have launched their own eco-friendly labels.

Furthermore, the magazine industry welcomes a fresh new face as Six Magazine just made it's debut a few weeks ago. According to founder Alina Ratsep, "Six" refers to fashion's "sixth sense". She states, "It's because ethical fashion should be the normal way fashion industry operates. It shouldn't have to be explained--this is something we know and feel on a certain level, the sixth sense level."

photo via: Ecouterre

The magazine celebrates designers, individuals, independent brands and companies who are creating a more ethical and sustainable future for the fashion industry. It represents slow fashion, a respect for clothes and it's makers, and a return to individuality. The magazine is comprised of a daily blog, a digital quarterly, and a biannual print edition. Click here to read their first issue free!

Overall, we are noticing a huge development in the rise of sustainability, within and outside of the fashion industry. As the topic is being introduced in schools and lectures, students are slowly becoming familiar with the importance of social and environmental responsibility, possibly years before entering the workforce. This allows for a new way of thinking, leading to innovative products and businesses. As one of the biggest obstacles is changing consumer behavior, we also believe that an emphasis on education will lead to a development of a Sustainable Index Standard. This allows a common language that can be clearly understood and trusted by both industry insiders and consumers.  Furthermore, companies should also come up with incentives to motivate consumers to change; automatic behavior needs to change to make a conscious choice. We hope, and strongly believe, that the fashion industry will pave the way in this endeavor.

As we have always said, eco-fashion is not a trend but the future! And although Earth Day should be every day, we hope that this month will particularly inspire you to be more proactive in taking better care of our planet. And in case you are a New Yorker, we encourage you to check out EDAY to get the latest schedules of New York City-based Earth Month and Earth Day events.

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