Fashion retailers are not ethical, we are told. Just as fashion producers are not sustainable and fashion consumers are not conscious. That’s why we adhere to the fashion revolution movement, that’s why we want to bring fast fashion practices to an end and embrace slow fashion.
But, you know what? A wind of change is blowing. More and more people seem to understand that the environment is in danger due to incidents like chemicals being dumped into waters by the fashion industry -an industry which comes second in overall polluting, right after the oil industry. Big corporations pledge to be environmental friendly and to pay fair salaries and, if they pledge, I feel inclined to believe them.
Modefabriek, the biggest fashion trade event in Amsterdam wanted to, and succeeded in, reflecting this newly found awareness in fashion. Among the hundreds of new and established labels displaying their collections, there was a section that echoes our very best hopes for fashion: MINT. MINT is the ethical and sustainable part of the trade show, or better, it’s right at the centre of it. It was exactly where the cool music gigs and the talks and events took place – where the hip people where hanging out.
“MINT has a dream. A vision for the future of fashion: great style, made with respect for people and our environment. We call it forward fashion. We hope to inspire towards a fashion scene that is both happening and harmless. “
I’ve seen great ideas at MINT: brands like Van Hulley, a true enthusiast of circular economy and first runner-up at the World Economic Forum competition for social entrepreneurship. Van Hulley invites you to send them your old shirts and then women who need a helping hand make boxers out of them! I’ve met the Seepje team that produces a sustainable 100% plant-based and fair trade laundry detergent in Nepal. And, too many inspiring people that I could not possibly mention here due to space restrictions.
Why in Amsterdam? you might ask. Amsterdam, and The Netherlands for that matter, seem to be more conscious of sustainability matters than elsewhere. They cherish style that comes together with ethics and innovative ideas (at least from what I’ve seen at the trade show) and around the city. Take Charlie + Mary’s for instance: they are the first sustainable fashion agency and run two concept stores. Where are they located? In Amsterdam, exactly where a slow fashion brand showcased its first collection during the fashion week. Up-cycling, re-purposing, and reclaiming materials are not unknown ideas here. Creativity and social innovation can make miracles.
I left the event full of inspiration and positive vibes. The world is changing, no matter how slowly. If we keep raising awareness, we will soon reach the critical mass, if we haven’t already. Let’s continue to “buy less, choose well and make it last” as Vivienne Westwood advocates, because fashion is too beautiful to be connected to human suffering and environmental deterioration.
About the Author
Stylianee is an ethical fashion evangelist, among other things. She is passionate about all things sustainable, ethical and conscious and apart from raising awareness and advocating on upcycling, recycling, swapping, mending (not necessarily in this order) these days she is working on the launch of her sustainable fashion brand. Organic cotton, natural fabrics and smart design will do the trick.