Experts: ‘Green’ solution from the fashion industry is a marketing trick
May 20, 2019 by Mick Madsen
The recent Copenhagen Fashion Summit has triggered a sharp response from a number of fashion researchers, who say the fashion industry is more concerned with the survival of the industry than the survival of the planet. It is problematic, the researchers say, that the fashion industry keeps promoting the idea of recirculation of textiles as the sustainable solution to the climate change problem. It is not a solution that accords with the findings of fashion researchers from across the globe. Rather, it is a marketing trick designed to legitimate today’s overproduction of cheap fashion garments, which itself is the real sustainability problem of the fashion industry. “The more the attention is directed to recycling, the longer [the fashion industry] can continue with what they make most profit from, namely selling a lot of bad clothes," says Ingun Klepp, fashion researcher at Oslo Metropolitan University, to Danish think tank Monday Morning. The critical researchers have organised themselves in Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion with the purpose to create a paradigm change in fashion consumption where the focus is on fewer fashion items with better design and higher quality, because such features will make consumers wear the garments for longer. Or in other words: a shift from fast fashion to slow fashion. This idea however, contradicts almost all contemporary business models in a fashion industry that keeps increasing the number of annual fashion collections and pump out more and more products. Morten Lehman is Chief Sustainability Officer at Global Fashion Agenda, the organisation behind Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and he does not understand the criticism. He says to Monday Morning that while he shares the researchers’ concern over the speed with which recirculation of textiles are being introduced, there is massive sustainability progress in the industry. “Some years ago we made a commitment on circular economy. Today, 12,5 percent of the global market has signed off on having goals in this are area,” he says. According the fashion industry’s own report ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ the production growth is an expected to have increased by 80 percent in 2030, and the report recognises the sustainability problem in fashion: “The fashion companies are not introducing sustainable solutions at a sufficient pace for them to make up for the negative environmental and social consequences of the rapid growth of the fashion industry,” the report reads. However, it is exactly the definition of “sustainable solutions” suggested by the industry in the ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports the researchers dispute. "How can consumers buy in an environmentally friendly way? The ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports answer to this is recirculated materials, but it is not true. The largest impact on environment and climate is decided by the longevity of products, and consequently how often they must be replaced. There is no such thing as green garments. I think it is a bad advice to move to more plastic in a world that’s starting to understand that we have to do something about the plastic problem. It is easy to suspect this is because it is easy to make money on synthetic clothing,” Ingun Klepp says.
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Fur animal welfare: New WelFur protocol is underway
May 23, 2019 by Mick Madsen
While the science-based animal welfare programme WelFur currently is being implemented on 3.200 mink and fox farms across Europe, the development of science-based measurements for a much less known fur animal are quietly underway. Finnraccoon, also known as raccoon dog, is farmed commercially in Finland, and the production counted 160.000 pelts in 2018. Right now a pilot phase is taking place in which animal welfare researchers are testing the validity of measurements, while at the same time the calculation model is being developed. The new protocol - that effectively work as a manual for the independent third-party assessors - will be handed over to an external review committee by the end of the year. The committee will review the protocol for its scientific validity and alignment with the methodology and principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality protocols. “All animals matter, also when the production is quite small. The WelFur protocols developed for mink and fox are already a success before consumers can buy products from certified farms. As the only animal welfare programme in the world, WelFur has been obtained in the European Commission’s self-regulation database, and Fur Europe’s board did not hesitate in deciding to move on with a finnraccoon protocol,” CEO of Fur Europe, Mette Lykke Nielsen, says. Recently, it was also revealed that fur farmed species will be a part of the European Commission’s next reference centre for animal welfare together with poultry and rabbits. The reference centres gather species-specific animal welfare expertise across Europe, and Mette Lykke Nielsen is pleased with the focus on scientific knowledge: “We think independent, scientific knowledge should underpin decisions on animal welfare. The WelFur protocols are dynamic, scientific tools, and the protocols and score system will change as new research and better welfare measurements emerge. WelFur is based on animal indicators, and while everybody know animal indicators are ‘state of the art’ in animal welfare assessment, the fur sector is the the first industry to implement animal indicators across an entire continent,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says.
Learning how to remodel your own wardrobe is now a thing
May 10, 2019 by Mick Madsen
Consumers are more interested than ever in sustainable fashion and remodelling, says fashion designer Sia Rosenberg. "I think people feel we have somehow lost our connection with nature, and many of them are trying to reconnect through awareness about the use of natural materials, redesign and upcycling." Rosenberg organises redesign workshops at MAD Brussels, a publicly funded creative hub dedicated to promote creative companies in the Belgian capital. At these workshops people learn how to transform and renew their old wardrobe together with basic sewing lessons. "During the first workshop it got a little crowded, so I need to have a maximum of five people for a session. Consumers are really trying to change their behaviour; to reuse and reduce - men and women, people from all ages are coming." The workshops will continue in her new atelier in Brussels from July. Sia Rosenberg will join forces with a tailor and merge sewing and redesign courses to engage with more people. The desire to adopt more sustainable fashion habits is not only limited to remodelling and redesign. An increasing number of people are getting into the use of natural materials and better quality, she says reflects. "All these reports about microplastics are shocking people, and they want to opt for natural, renewable materials that don't pile up on landfill or shed plastics into oceans." The Brussels-based designer mainly works with leather, wool, silk and linen but she is also drawn to fur for its remodelling abilities and long lifespan. Her interest in the materials started when she was a design student, and worked on a project in which students were provided with old furs for remodelling. To Sia Rosenberg that was the beginning of her affection for seal skins sourced from Greenland. "You can really do anything – you can even play directly with the direction of the hair," says she while pointing at one of her favourite designs – a corset blazer made of wool and seal. "The magic here was to use a mixture of baking powder and water to soften the skin and then create this shape. Once it dries, it keeps the form, and you get these beautiful curves that match a women's body."