The fashion industry has significant negative impacts on the environment, nature and people. This means that there are far-reaching opportunities to make positive changes by embracing a circular economy, tackling the returns problem, considering nature in fabric choices and engaging with the entire value chain.
If you are inspired to find out more about starting on your sustainability strategy, book a free Sustainability Audit.
The majority of fabrics used for clothes are made from textiles whose production is harming the planet: polyester from fossil fuels, viscose from trees and cotton grown in water-stressed areas.
The explosion of online shopping has created a 'wear it once and return' culture. With most people ordering clothes with no intention of keeping them all.
Clothes and accessories are often bought based on price rather than quality. They are not made to last and are treated as throw away items with many ending up in landfill.
Fashion supply chains are often complex and the workers at the bottom are usually poorly paid women who work in undignified, often dangerous conditions.
The fashion industry has changed from two collections a year to multiple - some brands have new styles nearly every week. This has put pressure on consumers to keep buying the latest thing.
Most textiles are made from crops which are sprayed with harmful chemicals like pesticides and insecticides. Other processes such as dying also use chemicals which end up damaging waterways and the wildlife.
In my early marketing career, I worked on fashion trade shows for designer and ready-to-wear labels. I experienced the birth of first fashion. My claim to fame is that I helped John Galliano set up his first exhibition stand!
I then moved on to a European menswear retailer and ran their marketing across 4 countries. We had two collections a year: spring/summer and autumn/winter. Most of our clothes were manufactured in the UK or Portugal. How things have changed ...
As well as running a landscaping business with my husband when our children were young, I started to work in the ethical sector and learnt about the impact of chemicals in our everyday lives. I heard Orsola de Castro, co-founder of campaigning organisation Fashion Revolution, speak at the Ethical Consumer conference and I just had to offer to be involved. I worked in the Education Team for 4 years developing resources for teachers as well as setting up a Student Ambassador programme for universities. I then acted as Country Coordinator Liaison for a year to cover maternity leave and had the priviledge of collaborating with all the country teams across the world. I also worked with the Global Coordination Team on communication and governance.
As part of my blog, I interview Inspirational Sustainability Leaders. Read here about sourcing sustainable fabrics with Emma Bottomley of Eloma Consultancy.
I have worked in the fashion industry in both B2B and B2C. I have seen how it has changed and am old enough to remember how it used to be! I have also been active in the health and wellbeing sector. I ran a breast health education business and offered lunchtime educational sessions to corporates. That was over 10 years ago and I was already talking to women about fabrics and the use of chemicals in cultivation, dying and finishing. As well as Fashion Revolution, I freelanced for prevention charity, Breast Cancer UK,to set up and manage their ambassador programme. I have also run the marketing for an organic and household brand, Greenscents, and developed content for sustainable tourism company, Wayaj.
This broad experience means that I have seen the best sustainable solutions in a number of different industries. I can share this knowledge and best practice with you.
As I have worked in the ethical arena for over 10 years, I have built up a substantial list of contacts. And if I don't have a specific contact, then I always know where to find one within the sustainable communities I am part of.
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