Page 81 - Sharp September 2021
P. 81

 In The Day the World Stops Shopping, MacKinnon quotes Ab- dullah Al Maher, CEO of one of Bangladesh’s 6,000 garment factories and an employer of 12,000 people who, at their peak, make 200,000 clothing articles a day for brands like H&M. “Maybe there should be four thousand factories, or three thousand factories,” he says. Factories that provide fair wages, focus on quality over speed, and are less socially and environmentally destructive to his country. Al Maher’s take may seem surprising given his business, but there are economic benefits to creating a more sustainable production model. The Circular Fashion Partnership recently determined Bangladesh’s textile industry could in fact save $500 million annually if it recycled cotton waste from its factories.
Even if upcycling does not produce products as cheaply as fast fashion does, fair price points help consumers understand the value of garments, combat the perception of disposability that contributes to textile waste, and improve life for people all along the supply chain. And none of this threatens the abundance, affordability, and accessibility of the second-hand clothing market, which is itself anticipated to grow from a $28 billion USD in 2020 to $64 billion in 2025 (and could overtake fast fashion by 2029).
Ultimately, to talk about sustainability is to talk about a radi- cally altered system of manufacturing and consumption — one that would make for a better world.
“True sustainability actually goes beyond conscious consumerism and is also about reforming an entire system that is built on oppres- sion,” says Loulwa Al Saad, one half of upcycled clothing company ADIFF, with partner Angela Luna. ADIFF repurposes tents and gear from United Nations refugee camps, employing refugee workers in Athens to make its collections and using a buy-one-give-one model to provide clothing to people who are displaced or without housing. During the pandemic, Al Saad and Luna wanted to do something
that would benefit people without requiring a consumer transaction at all. So they released a free “open-source fashion cookbook” filled with patterns for making clothes and accessories out of things like shower curtains, to which participating brands like Raeburn and Chromat contributed. It’s just one little project-sprout pushing up through the concrete of capitalism, yet ADIFF’s cookbook defies the idea that brands must ruthlessly guard their proprietary products and that money must always separate people from value. Says Luna: “It’s a very anti-establishment model to fashion, which has been so proprietary and so capitalist.”
Fashion veteran Kristy Caylor founded her circular apparel company, For Days, to demonstrate “a different relationship to consumption that can drive profitability and circularity simultaneously,” she says. For Days allows customers to swap worn items for credit with which they can purchase new upcycled basics (other companies, including Levi’s and Patagonia, have adopted comparable take-back programs). “[Companies] have to take responsibility for the materials they choose, the way they produce, and what happens at the end of a piece’s life,” says Caylor.
For the sustainable practices of brands like Fyoocher, ADIFF, and For Days to become the industry standard will require not only the development of particular logistics, infrastructure, and technology that can support circular manufacturing, but of new philosophies about what it means to consume. These can be encouraged not only by the public but by government policies to incentivize reuse and penalize waste, such as carbon and plastic taxes and taxes on goods created with only virgin materials, or by nations making a commit- ment to transitioning to a circular economy, as the Netherlands has. Ultimately, it could lead us to a place where we are all taking more responsibility for the things humans have put on our planet without sacrificing fashion and everything we love about it. Because fashion isn’t the problem; it’s how we choose to go about it.
and polluting...
...really feels like a quality good anymore.”

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