Fashion and the Planet

We are enjoying a glorious Indian Summer in the UK.  There were extreme weather conditions in Colorado last week.  Florida suffered a Category 2 hurricane earlier this week.

The Western Wildfires continue to devastate the whole west coast of the US.  Surely these are signs of climate change!  It’s also a busy for all time of year for those working in the fashion industry.  As I think of both, I am reminded once again that the fashion industry has a lot to make up for with regards to climate change.

For me, this is the first time in almost 20 years that I am not travelling to NY, Milan and/or Paris for fashion weeks.

Unlike others working in fashion, who aren’t travelling due to the travel restrictions, I’m not travelling because I no longer work for a fashion brand that has runway shows or sales campaigns.  In fact, I’m on a pause – resetting my career and life to be more aligned with my purpose and passions.

Throughout my career in fashion I was ambitious and always strives to progress my career, which I did.  I was promoted to a VP role whilst on maternity leave with my youngest son.  I decided to shorten my mat leave to 4 months because I was so committed and determined to succeed.

Despite my excitement, when I returned to work, the place just didn’t feel right.  I wasn’t aware enough to read my feelings and became incredibly stressed.   When I was at an all time low, I finally admitted to myself what was wrong and why.  I wasn’t happy because my profession no longer aligned with my values.

With a young family, these feelings magnified and I experienced my priorities shifting.  I started to educate myself on climate change and was horrified to learn the facts on the fashion industry’s contribution to the problem.  Fashion production accounts for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.  It dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams.  Of all the fibers used to produce clothing, 87% is incinerated or goes to landfill.*  Sadly, these are just a few of the facts.  There are so many more and they’re scary!

Fortunately, brands with genuine sustainable values are taking note.  Flashy marketing campaigns don’t do it anymore.  Purpose and being part of the climate change solution is where brands will gain an upper hand.  But, the key to winning is communicating the message clearly and succinctly.  Ultimately, purpose driven, transparent companies that do it well will have greater license to operate and be more in demand.

At the same, consumers are more discerning than ever.  The fact is, we all have a choice on the brands we support and what we buy.  It begins with taking time to educate ourselves on the problem, as well as the solutions.  In doing so, we will find those brands that reflect our personal values.  It’s up to us as consumers to support them… And while we’re at it, share the good word with others.  Personal stories and experiences are the best marketing for these planet-friendly brands.

Practical Recommendations

Connect with your personal values.

Assess whether the brand you work, for and/or the brands you buy, are aligned with those values.

Discover brands with purpose and don’t be afraid to shout about them.  We need to show our support of these brands to help them flourish.

Read labels and don’t be fooled by greenwashing.  It’s all too common these days sadly.


* ‘How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost the Environment’