Can the Sustainability Movement Sustain Itself?

gabriela hearst february 2020 new york fashion week show

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“When it comes to energy, we have to look to the future, and when it comes to clothing, to the past,” said Gabriela Hearst during a preview of her fall 2020 collection in February, a months before the world, and the industry, was overthrown. Eco-pioneers like Hearst and Stella McCartney have been asking the industry to follow their example for some time now. But with cost-cutting measures rampant in the wake of COVID-19, it remains to be seen whether the industry can maintain its commitment to greener production, and whether environmentally friendly habits like the upcycling, resale and rental of clothing will suffer. due to fears of the spread of the virus.

Fashion consultant Robert Burke predicts that such innovations will get nowhere. “The younger generations,” he says, “are looking for durability, non-mass-produced products and uniqueness,” so they probably won’t be giving up their depop habit anytime soon. “The kind of hedonistic luxury that already felt old to me before the pandemic was definitely over now,” Hearst says. I am sure there will be a return to craftsmanship and quality. ”

As for what designers can do, “there’s a misconception that ‘durable’ equates to ‘expensive’,” says Hearst. “But it’s quite the opposite: it’s about minimizing waste.”

“For years, fashion has been allowed to continue without any responsibility for the environment or human rights,” adds Céline Samaan, Founder and Executive Director of the Slow Factory Foundation, a nonprofit for sustainable literacy. . “The public now demands more. The only way forward is education, radical transparency and accountability at the intersection of environmental impact and human rights. McCartney is equally passionate, calling the moment a turning point. “We cannot have sustainability without solidarity,” she said. “We see that there is hope and what we can accomplish when we rise up together.

See ELLE’s full offer on the future of fashion here.

This article appears in the September 2020 issue of ELLE.


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