Sunday, 30 October 2011

Essay on Sustainablity

For the current brief which I have been talking about for a while now one of the tasks was to write an essay on the issues surrounding sustainability.  Here is my essay:

Sustainability is an issue that is becoming more and more important in the world of fashion, and more and more brands are designing their labels and collections around this issue.  Sustainable design is where the environment, workers and ethics are considered and cared for throughout the whole process, or at least an element of it.  Eco-conscious methods and fabrics are very important to the designers that support this issue with every step though out the design cycle considered to make sure that their carbon footprints among other issues are kept to a minimum.  There is a saying that states:

‘Clothes are as much to dress the body as they are to dress the mind’
In my opinion this explains ethical and sustainable fashion perfectly and describes the feeling that it gives us; clothes without the guilt trip.

The most predominant designers that support this issue are people such as Stella McCartney, Edun and Gary Harvey.  They have created their brands around their personal interests and concerns for the environment and also the world that our future generations will have to live in.  They use sustainable methods, fabrics or recycled materials to make their brand ethical and sustainable.  Stella McCartney is a strong supporter of this issue and it has been reported that she stated her ethic terms in her contract.  She has described her brand’s sustainability by saying:

“I would always touch on an element of a sustainable or eco collection in everything that I do. So in my lingerie collection, I have a part of the collection that is organic, or with my Adidas collaboration again there are organic materials or recycled materials in the bags or shoes, and every part of my design at some stage comes into contact with that.” 
It is my belief that this shows that she takes the issue of sustainability very seriously and incorporates it into everything that she does in one way or another.  Another designer who is currently at the forefront of sustainable fashion is Christopher Raeburn.  He creates men’s and women’s wear out of old military fabrics.  His AW10 collection was featured in American Vogue, where they told us all to:

‘Remember the four R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Raeburn’.

To me this shows that the work he is creating is recognised and is creating the publicity for sustainable fashion that is needed.  His garments are made out of old army garments, parachutes and more; if that wasn’t enough to give him the sustainable designer title then the fact that he uses all the discarded fabric to create hand-sewn rabbits really shows his dedication to the ethics of fashion.  Fashion Personalities such as Gok Wan have also taken sustainable fashion on board he has said:

Don’t be constrained by a garments primary identity. Think outside the box and use your existing wardrobe to create new pieces”
This shows that it is not just designers that have the responsibility to support sustainable fashion it is also people in the public eye that will be able to promote the ethical message.  The amount of designers concerned with this issue is quickly growing and now there is even a section of fashion week devoted to these green brands referring to them as the ‘Green Shows’ and ‘Estethica’.  Designers such as Ada Zanditon, Christopher Raeburn and Monsoon show in this section of the week.

Sustainability has become so important to the world and many designers due to the impact that years of not caring has had on the environment.  With the environment now fighting back, and issues such as fossil fuels running out and the hole in the ozone layer becoming more important to people who previously took no notice, they are forced to think about them and make changes to the impact that they personally create.  Situations that make this subject so important are based around the way different things are manufactured; there is the way that fabrics are manufactured for example, Silkworms are boiled and killed so that they don’t damage the silk cocoon, this is a big concern in silk production and even though there isn’t an organic silk option available things such as Peace Silk (where the silkworms aren’t killed) mean that we can make a choice between how we want our fabric to be manufactured.  Then there are also the insecticides and pesticides that are used on things such as cotton crop, these chemicals can kill other insects and animals which are unnecessary deaths and damage to the environment.  This damage is shown shockingly in the depletion of the Aral sea, where the issue is shown to us clearly through the way it is deteriorating.  If customers had the opportunity to buy the organic and ethical choices, it would mean a stop to the damaging ways of production that are around now, meaning that hopefully the ethical production methods will become a bigger part of our society.

In my belief it is important for designers to take responsibility for their choices within their brand.  This is because customers have no choice in the way that the products they buy are manufactured, even though they could buy the organic and ethical options there is not that many out there to choose from, therefore if designers made sustainability a priority in at least one part of their brand, it will give customers the incentive to buy sustainable items and help to change the impact that other methods have on the environment.  If they were to all follow in the footsteps of brands such as Asos, Topshop and George who have assigned a section of their companies to the organic and ethical methods this incentive might be created.  If designers were to include these ethical methods customers will be able get the items they want with the satisfaction of knowing that it is ethical.  Stella McCartney once said:

‘I enjoy it when customers look at an item and think ‘I love that’ and then later realise that it is environmentally friendly’.
To me this shows her dedication to sustainability and her love of creating ethic garments that her customers will love. 

Designers have the responsibility to stop the unethical methods of manufacture from continuing.  They have the responsibility to stop the promotion of these methods and promote the more ethical and socially acceptable methods instead.  That is why it is my belief that it is more important than ever for designers to take responsibility for their actions and their impact on the environment.

To introduce these changes we all have to be open-minded and patient but hopefully, the industry will eventually become parallel with sustainability.  In her book ‘Sustainable Fashion and Textiles’ Kate Fletcher said:

‘A zero-waste vision for the fashion and textile sector changes the goals and rules of the bigger industrial system and aligns them with sustainability.  It requires a bold and innovative set of changes to the way our fibres and fabrics (as part of society at large) are designed, produced, consumed and discarded.’
It is my belief that this explains how every cog in the industry has to change to make the goal of ethical production possible and that even though a huge part of the problem is in the designers hands the customer also has to think about how wasteful they are being with the way that they look after the garment and discard of it.

My research and beliefs have made me come to the conclusion that sustainability is a growing trend not only in the world of fashion but in manufacture and other industries as well.  In my belief designers have the responsibility to include sustainability in their brands whether it is just the carrier bags they supply made of recycled materials or choosing organic and recycled fabrics to create their garments, anything they do will make a positive impact in a world damaged by the inexperience of the generations before us. 

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