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  • Prof. Dilys Williams

Are we heading in the right direction?

A graphic of 12 circles with illustrations depicting various manufacturing items from fashion

‘Are we heading in the right direction?’ this question, amongst others was posed a few months ago, to a group of people from across the world. All who are currently engaged, in a range of ways, in action towards an honouring of nature and equity in fashion. Being one of these people, I was able to share my own perspectives, listen to others and together start to evolve a shared response to the question.

In short, the answer, is NO.

We discussed over a period of a month, whether the current initiatives in sustainability in fashion are enough to create a net positive impact on nature and to create a fair fashion industry.

  • 75% of us said no to the first question

  • 65% of us said no to the second one

We then talked about what we are hopeful about and what we can no longer stand by and watch happen. As with any good discussion, we all learnt from each other and agreed on some things, not on others.

We agreed on the fundamental fact that, whilst there is a huge amount of activity relating to fashion and sustainability, overall it is, at best, complicit in the climate emergency and in places actively contributing to it.

Our findings were then shared with a wider group of people who contributed their hopes and concerns. All of these discussions were then synthesised into a report, it is vital reading for all of us. For all parts of the fashion sector and those who are affected by it. It says, stop, hold on, whether you are passionately involved in fashion and sustainability work, or still distracted by the compelling draw of the current fashion system. So please read the report – The Future of Sustainability in the Fashion Industry, it is an honest account of the fact that we are still holding on to a broken system, we are clinging to the economy-first boulder and as it sinks, it is drawing us down with it. We need to let go of this boulder and be brave enough to put nature first in our work. The report sets out what came out of the discussions, what needs to be done to put fashion on a different path.

Not all of the recommendations are those that I personally subscribe to, but they offer a multi-voiced, diversely collated set of ideas that show that where we see positive signs today, we need to honour and amplify these so that they are far more widely distributed and applied in locally relevant ways.

My thanks goes out to all of those with whom I learnt and shared concerns and ideas, and to the team at Future Impacts, and to the fantastic team at C&A Foundation, without whom none of this work could have taken place.


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