What do you study again? Sustainable Fashion? What is that?
Maybe some of you are already rolling your eyes. I would if it was me reading this title, because the word "Sustainability" is being over-used everywhere. On food, lifestyle, even travelling. It makes me want to rebel and not be sustainable. I refuse to accept salad as a main course and kill it at the gym (no offence to those that do that, as I am totally secretly jealous). I want to eat food without thinking of the grease and walk daily to get my dose of exercise.
Just a little background about me. I quit my job at New York University Abu Dhabi in 2016 to pursue my graduate studies in Sustainability in Fashion in Berlin. A year later, the school closed and another school took over. In parallel, I got a slipped disc so I have decided to take a gap year and continue my research back home in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates aiming to bring Sustainable Fashion to the region. I also missed my family, so it was the perfect scenario moving back.
I loved the subject because it was Fashion with a good cause. You may have noticed, that some labels use the "S" word to market their collection. Sustainable, Eco, Green, Vegan, Conscious and so on. In other words, Greenwashing! I even called a Yoga place in Dubai that were selling "organic green products". Guess what, it was all made in China and imported from the U.S. They were even confused on why I was asking those questions.
For instance, one of the fast-fashion labels started introducing a conscious collection. What does this word even mean to a customer? Absolutely nothing. For me, before knowing what I know now, I liked the idea of just being "conscious" because who does not want to be conscious right? Even though I had no clue what it meant in this context, but I bought it anyway. Without thinking twice. It's made out of organic cotton and it's conscious?!! Double YAY! More like one million NOs!
Sustainable Fashion is simply Ethical Fashion. How is it produced? Is it at the expense of underprivileged society? Are the workers getting what they deserve? Is the garment durable and long lasting? Did a child sew my jeans? Was a woman forced to work 1 million hours per day to maximise the company's profit?
It is hard to find answers if you do not have a Fashion background. I get that, as I have been there before. However, there are wonderful labels out there that do great things by being as transparent as possible for the customer to know exactly what they are getting. AND super awesome innovations out there, involving technology and waste. One of the innovations that I like to use as an example, is the Qmilk fibre, which is made out of expired milk, completely biodegradable, antibacterial and feels like silk.
Some labels work with communities that inherited their artisanal skills for generations. Creating a beautiful transparent production process that benefits the artisans directly, and the customer who appreciates value and uniqueness. Abury, for example, works with communities in Morocco, and 50 percent of their profit goes directly to their education. Win-Win for all! I love this sentence, even in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, says that the best attitude to have is "Win Win".
*The hand embroidery image above was taken during my trip in India March 2018. It is a vintage hand made piece made by villagers in Pakistan, which I found in Rajasthan.