The Future of Fashion is Sustainable

-An official UN side event for the High-Level Political Forum 2018 Agenda


Credits: Pictures by Suvi Helko

by Maria J. Rodriguez-Ferreño

On Wednesday, July 11th, we had the opportunity to collaborate with “Hecho por Nosotros” and Animaná" on an official UN High Level Political Forum side event called: Sustainable Fashion and SDGs: Different Contexts, Same Mission”, as part of a series of events for High-Level Political Forum Agenda Global Goals for 2030. For more information about this series of events, please click HERE.

The “Fast Fashion” industry is riddled with problems.  Although for the people in villages and small towns in developing countries, their manual labor is what puts a plate of food on the table for their families, the industry is threatening our environment, as it requires large amounts of water just for a few pieces of clothing (pieces that are meant to last not long, so the consumer goes out and buys again and again.  At the local level where cheap fashion is worn, it costs a lot of money for the local governments to process large amounts of clothing items that people throw away daily into the garbage. In fact, less than a third of clothing items gets recycled, everything else ends up at the landfill. Of the recycled items, many end up in developing countries knocking out domestic small scale clothing industry , ie. this flux of cheap-made clothing donated by developed countries sabotages their survival. For all of these reasons and more, sustainable strategies and mechanisms for not only designing, but also for the “after-consumption” stage of fashion, must be implemented ASAP. This is why we say that the future of fashion is sustainable

Our event presented the debate on how a transformation in the fashion and textile industry can contribute to a shift towards a more sustainable and resilient society. The discussion was joined by actors from the private and public sector, all supporting and giving visibility to leading sustainability innovations creatively tackling social and environmental issues via the textile industry to inspire how different industries in collaboration with civil society, business and government can transform into a force for good.

The event was an official United Nations (UN) side event, part of the agenda of #HLPF2018, High-Level Political Forum for the Sustainable Global Goals 2030 (SDG’s, an agenda put together by the UN with a series of goals of vital importance for the sustainable future of the generations to come, so that they may enjoy Mother Earth as much as we have enjoyed it). We were thrilled for such an outstanding opportunity.

The panelists were Prof. Steven Cutting from Fashion Institute of Technology, designer Jessica Schreiber from FABSCRAPS, John Meyers from Impact Capital Forum, Maria Ceccarelli from United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Nikita Varma presented Hecho por Nosotros, Hansika Iyer gave an introduction on animaná and Maria J. Rodriguez Ferreno was the representative for The Kota Alliance. The moderator was Patrick Duffy, founder of Global Fashion Exchange (GFX) and activist. To know more about the panelists and/or moderator, please click HERE.

We also had a fantastic audience who was engaged in the conversation and eager to ask questions to further the debate. When we asked some members of the audience for their event highlights, the responses were mostly in regard to recycling , and also about the clothing producers and their responsibility in the “post-consumption” stage of the chain, also known as “extended producer responsibilities”. This feedback tells us people are eager to be informed and learn how they can contribute to alleviate the issue beyond the conversation and the debate. People want to do more and better, but they just do not know how! This is the main reason why it is so important to organize informative events on these vital topics, so everyone can get involved and thus contribute to the SDG’s for 2030.

Additionally, and for the first time ever, we recorded the event  on Facebook Live.  The video can be watched anytime by anyone interested in the topic HERE

Lastly, we want to thank our partner organizations – “Hecho Por Nosotros” & “Animaná” - for their excellent and tireless work on organizing this event, and we certainly look forward to having more opportunities to collaborate!