By Billie Hall
It’s been a long fight and it’s far from over, but the work done by pioneers in ethical business and fashion has undeniably changed the future for the next generation of fashion designers and fashion business owners.
At a recent event in Borås, Sweden, Safia Minney was invited to discuss sustainability and ethics in the textile and fashion industries. Fair Trade and environmental representatives and advocates gathered with students to share and highlight the actions being taken to create the sustainable future the world so urgently needs.
Hosted at the incredible Borås Textile Fashion University – an old textiles factory reimagined to provide the designers of tomorrow with the space to create and innovate – the keenest attendees were the students themselves. The museum at the university also shows technology from the 1960s for spinning, knitting and weaving fabrics.
Undergraduates and Master’s students from as far away as Pakistan and Iran shared their ideas and input on how to improve supply chains, promote ethical working practices and encourage the use of organic materials. Students wanted to know about the barriers Safia faced in starting up with People Tree, where these difficulties the same as those faced today? How have things progressed? What can be done to ensure those in the fashion industry buy sustainable and organic fabrics and promote ethical fashion? And what of the differences in the design details themselves in Fair Trade and sustainable fashion compared to conventional fashion?
What emerged is that there can be no single answer to ‘how do we create a sustainable fashion industry?’ The reality will take input from every level, from the designers, through to the commercial buyers and, ultimately, will be driven by consumer demand. Designers and consumers want sustainable fashion and we need a more nurturing environment and effective legislation in place to maintain it.
But with this next generation of fashion students, finally, the truth is clear and the agenda is set. The future of fashion is a sustainable one, there can be no question about that if the industry is to survive. And the dedication, creativity and spark shown by those in attending the event is what companies new and established will need to harness.
Young people are the next generation of fashion and they’re bringing the change from within the industry and with their own brands and ethical drive. Now we the industry, governments and consumers join in with this collaborative change.