Sustainable fashion is oxymoronic?

sustainable fashion jl 01

Quote of the day comes via Ethical Style:

Supermodel and budding eco-designer Lily Cole was interviewed in The Guardian yesterday to discuss her views on sustainable fashion. And as reporter Rebecca Aitkenhead brought up, Ms. Cole has some problems with how the industry operates:

I never know quite what to make of sustainable or ethical fashion. There’s no doubting the sincerity of its pioneers – and Cole is every inch the passionate proselytiser – but there is something odd about representatives of an industry whose existence depends upon getting us to replace clothes that haven’t worn out, with new ones we don’t need, suddenly going on about sustainability. Isn’t sustainable fashion inherently oxymoronic?

“It is!” she agrees, laughing. “It is oxymoronic, just in terms of the name ‘fashion’ meaning trends. And so it’s risky, biting the hand that feeds me, obviously. But I don’t think it’s particular to the clothing industry. It’s a problem with the manufacture of everything. I mean, the fact that there’s already a second iPad out now is ‘fashion’, in a similar way. I don’t think this is fashion’s fault. It’s a broader issue to do with the capitalism, and an economy which needs us to keep buying, and creating this superfluous kind of waste. It’s not that I don’t believe in creativity and innovation and new ideas, and the creativity that comes with fashion, which I really respect. But one of my biggest concerns is just how cheap we expect everything to be.”

I agree with Ms. Cole in that the whole way of our western consumerism is fucked up in sence of capitalism based on endless supply and use of new, but labelling sustainable fashion oxymoronic..? That I don´t agree on. The interviewers wordplay sounds fun for 2 sec, but it´s just a name calling it fashion. We might as well call it wear or something else that deoes not refer to trends. Fashion is not just about new. It´s also about change, design that lasts decades and innovation, for example finding a new way of wearing an old favorite in your wardrobe, swapping an old piece for a "new" one with a friend of yours and refashioning old garments from materials that already exist. Let´s broaden our perspective, shall we?

Top photo via Jason Lear Illustration.

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. My grandmother used to undo sweaters and knit the yarn into new sweaters, cut old curtains into new dresses, make children's clothes out of adult clothes, etc. She also saved all the scraps and make hair ties and flowers out of them. She was always well-dressed and eco-friendly, but she didn't have to spend $300 on a scarf.

  2. We have a lot to learn from our grandmothers.