Ever felt dismayed by clothes or shoes that fell apart after being worn for a few months?
Like most of us, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
But recently, after requiring premature repairs on yet another pair of pants, I started properly questioning the clothing industry I’d taken for granted — finding a shoddy default setting driven by a throwaway culture.
This is why, on a recent visit to the Netherlands, I was excited to learn about an initiative aiming to bring about a long-overdue fashion industry overhaul: an ethical clothing movement called Fashion for Good.
I arranged a chat with Fashion for Good’s director of communications, Inge Wallage.
Could you start by helping us understand the need for Fashion for Good?
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world – some say it’s the second most polluting. In a world dealing with climate change, energy challenges and water risks, it is very clear that the fashion industry needs to change for the better.
In addition to environmental issues, there are huge social problems facing this industry. Fashion for Good, as a global, multi-partner initiative, aims towards a truly good fashion, one that benefits society and the environment.
So what exactly is Fashion for Good and how can it help?
Fashion for Good aims to revolutionise the global apparel industry through fashion innovation, collaborations and community; together promoting the ‘Five Goods’: Good Materials, Good Economy, Good Energy, Good Water and Good Lives.
Our Plug and Play – Fashion for Good startup accelerator aims to scale fashion innovation, as we believe there is a lot of innovation ‘out there’, but with no or little impact. With our Good Fashion Guide, we share an open-source roadmap of the creation of cradle-to-cradle fashion to inspire the industry to transform.
For those of us not familiar with ideas like the circular economy and cradle-to-cradle, what do they mean alongside Fashion for Good?
For Fashion for Good, both cradle-to-cradle (regenerative production cycles in line with the five goods) and circular economy (design, make, wear, remake, re-wear and re-use) are ideal resource frameworks as they advocate no waste and are crucial to creating a socially and environmentally good fashion industry.
How did it come about and what kinds of parties are involved in the movement?
C&A Foundation is the funding partner of Fashion for Good and they realised that no one brand, company or organisation can change the industry alone. Hence, the initiative invites brands, producers, retailers, suppliers, non-profit organisations, innovators and funders to join and collaborate.
My cheapo jeans are falling apart and I want to buy better-quality clothes that are better for the world — where can I or other people start to look for Good Fashion as consumers?
Fortunately, there are quite a few initiatives and fashion brands that are good and getting better. Most of those, however, are still niche and only in particular parts of the world, so in order to change the industry, we need these initiatives to scale.
We aim to become a platform that contributes such much-needed knowledge and we are not there yet, but one can easily search and find locally relevant information online, often through social media, by searching for ‘ethical fashion’ in your specific area.
I sadly missed Fashion for Good’s launchpad exhibition when I was in Amsterdam — what’s going on there?
Our Launchpad exhibition for Fashion for Good shows the context of the initiative and triggers visitors to think of fashion as a force for good, encouraging them to contribute their own ideas and connect with us.
The launchpad exhibition is also the platform on which future initiatives will be built: The exhibition at Rokin 102 is not permanent, but rather the first step in a longer journey growing fashion as a force for good. The permanent exhibition will be a very interactive digital experience and will open in Spring 2018.
What are the next steps in growing Fashion for Good and what is the initiative’s biggest ambition?
Fashion for Good is at the start of its journey and through innovation, collaboration and its community it aims to transform the whole global fashion industry into a sustaining one, environmentally and socially. We need actors across all parts of the industry to get there, so join us on this journey!
You can find out more about Fashion for Good here and sign up for my latest blog posts at the top, right-hand side of this page. Also, feel free to post in the comments section below if you have any ethical fashion tips or recommendations to share with us all!
Getting to grips with Fashion for Good