What’s Going On? – Global Fashion Conference 2018
In October last year, I had the pleasure to attend the Sustainability Global Fashion conference in London, a global gathering of sustainable fashion academics and industry practitioners, meeting to discuss and envision the future of the fashion industry.
Research, discussions and visions were presented, focused upon what needs to be implemented if we are to reduce the environmental and societal impact of the industry.
Many old discussions ensued, because we just haven’t gotten there yet, but fresh perspectives were also brought forth.
Stand out keynotes came from Kate Fletcher, Otto Von Busch and Lynda Grose, all of which contended that material and technological fixes just aren’t cutting it (!!!), and that a change at a paradigmatic and systemic level is needed.
Kate Fletcher presented a poetic and moving call to action to 'Ecologise Design’.
Stand out quotes from her talk include:
Our human-centered perspective is a framework for generating blindness, failing to take into account others.
It represents Nature as a non essential and non considered backdrop in society...belonging to a sphere apart, outside of and above ecology.
More harm is done when the victim is less immediate to us.
Here, Nature as a means to an end.
This anthropocentric worldview has no limits, and represents Nature in terms of human needs, completely forgetting biodiversity.
It over estimates it’s own knowledge and capacity for control.
This view damages our ability to see ourselves as natural beings.
Fashion and sustainability suffers from extreme anthropocentric bias.
We have to renounce claims to own and manage Nature.
We need to move away from numbers, to living in the context where garments occur.
Earth is the stuff of which we are made.
We need to evolve a new approach that seeks to hold garments in context - to fold things into one another and see them as interrelated.
Can we adopt a practice of caring beyond humans?
What are the ways we can design that understands our embeddedness in Nature?
How can we design while acknowledging uncertainty and the limits of human knowledge?
How can we reveal the resonance within the world?
A project of reanimating the world and remaking ourselves in the process...so as to become enriched and restrained members of an ecological community.
Strengthening the thread.
Understanding our ecological identities.
Understanding how Nature supports our lives.
We need to speak our deep feelings for the more than human.
Profit - let’s let go of this word and develop a new vocabulary.
The reverence of Nature needs to be held, alongside Nature having values in itself...not just about having a need for humans.
We need to figure out what it means to be human.
Otto Von Busch’s presentation about ‘Fashion & Power’, delivered alternative ways of viewing the role of ‘fashion’ as well as the ‘fashion designer’. As our current world evolves and transforms, the fashion system as well as fashion practitioners will need adapt and morph accordingly. Otto’s presentation pushed the limits of what this could look like, leaving the audience with an opportunity to envision what this future could be. There is so much more that fashion designers can offer others, if we expand our perspectives.
‘We are born free but we all end up in chain stores.’
Some memorable concepts:
Fashion as flirting.
Fashion as energy rather than just a material culture.
The fashion designer as a ‘fashion doula’.
Fashion as risk/ gambling.
Fashion as something that happens between us.
What does fashion do for us?
The conference included an entire segment about spirituality and fashion, where I presented my recent research paper, exploring sustainability for design as founded upon spiritual practices and principles.
In order to move toward a world of sustainability, we need alternative guiding paradigms and philosophies. We need to evolve our understanding of fashion design, and particularly our sense of ‘self’, to include care for the planet, one another and the Soul.
I was honoured to also be asked to share some of these ideas on the closing conference panel, alongside Angela McRobbie, Frances Corner and Baroness Lola Young.
From the feedback and comments received, it appears that now is the time for this conversation.
I’m excited to explore this work further, and I’ll be sharing more soon.