I was exceptionally lucky to be invited to an event on sustainable fashion hosted by the marvelous Fashion Business Club at the Swarovski Crystallized cafe near Liberty. The event aimed to highlight the importance of sustainable and eco friendly production through a conversational interview with Dolly Jones (editor of Vogue.com) and eco chic model and journalist Laura Bailey, with an audience of key industry people in attendance.
|Laura Bailey, Dolly Jones and FBC Co-Founder Courtney Blackman|
The interview began and Laura who co-writes Vogue.com's Green Style Blog was quick to point out that she isn't perfect (Ummm, are you sure? Have you looked in the mirror?) and she is not preaching or trying to tell anyone what or what not to do (Why the heck not? I do it all the time, I highly recommend it....) To quote her directly, "it is simply about starting the conversation, and the more people that join the conversation, the bigger the voice gets" and the more palatable the discussion becomes over time.
One of the most prominent points that Laura made on the topic was the need for producers to put a face to what they sell. Through her most recent business project, Fair Trade jewellery brand MADE (sold in various places including Topshop), Laura travelled to Kenya to see how the brands' goods were produced and by whom - getting to know their quirks and their families. “If you are ever lucky enough to go and see how sustainable production genuinely changes lives, I urge you to. It was really, really moving.” Everyone in the audience agreed that the personalizing of the product and what it takes to get it to the shop floor is an extremely integral step to making producers realise the impact of their business decisions with regards to ethics and ecology. The "story" of a product certainly adds value for those of us who are pulling out our credit cards too! Wouldn't your Margiela boots be worth a whole lot more than what you paid for them if you knew that they helped to put the cobbler's daughter through school? (and university and a postgrad - Margiela boots aren't cheap!)
The discussion then led on to the need to reduce the labels of "ethical" and "sustainable" before everything that is fashioned as such. These labels are generic (no one with ANY interest in fashion wants to be generic....) and diminish the purpose that they try to achieve because they "speak to the converted". Laura and Sarah Ratty of Ciel rightly agreed that without the labels attached to these products they have to stand on their own in their design and quality and this will result in a greater appreciation and therefore integration of ethical products into mainstream fashion.
The consumer demand for ethical products is definitely there too. Lois of the blog Bunnipunch made the excellent point that if Christopher Kane launched a Fair Trade line tomorrow for example, it would sell out in minutes.
|That better not be real gorilla Christopher!!!!|
"I'm working on it - I promise you that!" exclaimed Ms Bailey in response. I personally can't wait to see the results, her pure passion for these issues will ensure that she can really make big things happen!
Photo's by Sam Atkinson of FBC