EARTH DAY 23
Celebrating the Uniting Power of Conscious Designers
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As the famous quote by Einstein goes, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." - we decided to go back to some of the most universal sustainability questions that designers have to reflect on on a daily basis, in order to get a closer look of what the year of 2023 will look like for conscious luxury. We invited Ukrainian brand CHERESHNIVSKA, Indonesian brand MARK BAIGENT and Nigeria-based brand JOSEPH EJIRO to start an open discussion on how niche brands can be proactive in green practices for the future of the planet.
Lead image: Joseph Ejiro SS23, available in the NJAL Shop now
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Why is it essential to be ethical and eco-focused in fashion more than ever before?
The fashion industry still has a significant negative impact on the environment and people. We work in a sector that is known to be a major contributor to pollution, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. And only we can change it. In addition, many workers in the fashion industry, particularly in developing countries, work in unsafe and exploitative conditions. Consumers are increasingly aware of these issues and are demanding that fashion brands become more sustainable and ethical. Moreover, stricter regulations and requirements are being put in place globally, making it imperative for brands to prioritize ethical and eco-focused practices to remain competitive and future-proof.
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Stop the blameshifting game
In my opinion it has become eminent over the last years that fashion negatively contributes to the livelihoods of people on a macro level. This can be seen through tons of waste generated daily and being traded between underdeveloped countries by more developed ones, the topic has become a blameshifting game in which no one wants to take actual responsibility, needless to say offer solutions. This is why we need to rethink how we work fashion. We need new and young minds to reform the fashion policies of this world and that take steps into a modernised way of practicing fashion.
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Firstly, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries globally. The production and disposal of clothing and textiles generate large amounts of waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants that harm the environment and human health. By being eco-focused, fashion companies can reduce their environmental footprint by adopting sustainable practices, such as using organic or recycled materials, reducing waste, and minimizing water and energy consumption.
Secondly, the fashion industry has been criticized for its unethical labor practices, including low wages, long working hours, and poor working conditions. By being ethical, fashion companies can ensure that their workers are treated fairly and with respect, improving their working conditions and livelihoods.
Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry and are demanding more sustainable and ethical products. By being eco-focused and ethical, fashion companies can meet the growing demand for sustainable products, improve their brand image, and build customer loyalty.
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What small changes do you think each fashion designer can make to improve sustainable practices in their business?
1. Focus on quality and create long-lasting, high-quality pieces.
2. Reduce waste by repurposing textile scraps.
3. Minimise the packaging or stitch it to a sustainable option.
4. Be conscious about material choices, and search for local fabric producers.
5. Optimise energy use.
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1. Develop patterns that consume less waste.
2. Rethink what you have been taught.
3. Come up with a more inclusive pattern system.
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1. Source sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and natural fibers.
2. Reduce waste by using pattern-making techniques that minimise waste and designing clothes with longevity in mind.
3. Embrace upcycling and recycling by repurposing and reusing materials.
4. Utilise ethical production methods by working with manufacturers who prioritise fair labor practices.
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2023 in sustainability: hope for new technologies and policies
For niche luxury brands, the importance of small positive changes are oftentimes foundational. Undeniable, they represent great practical value on the market, initiating simple yet effective sustainable solutions that most consumers can relate to, and even contribute to. "Even the smallest changes can make a big difference. This principle I use in any business or life situation." - says CHERESHNIVSKA who also feels positive about the planet's future "because of the advanced technologies that can be seen in so many areas, such as renewable energy sources or using artificial intelligence to optimise energy use, developing biodegradable materials, and creating more efficient transportation systems." They agree with JOSEPH EJIRO's point of view on the importance of the increased awareness surrounding environmental issues "leading to a shift in consumer behaviour towards more environmentally friendly options." This is a significant win of recent years' efforts proving the impact of designers' voices after all.
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What may take sustainable design practices to the next level according to the opinion of all three designers, is the formation of new policies and governmental efforts to "include initiatives that promote recycling and circularity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve working conditions in the industry". CHERESHNIVSKA points out that the "growing public awareness and activism surrounding environmental issues and international cooperation provide hope and inspiration for a more sustainable future." However, one thing that we can all agree will remain the same when it comes to sustainability in fashion, is that big differences will still start small.
Happy Earth Day from the NJAL Team. Visit our Sustainable & Ethical Curation to support sustainable contemporary designers.
Get inspired, get up-to-date, and remember:
By making conscious choices and supporting sustainable design, you are creating a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.