“Celebrating Earth Week” – Panel discussion exploring ‘The True Cost’ of the Fashion industry on the environment

28th April 2017     Fabrics Fashion Future Fabrics Expo Future Fabrics Virtual Expo Students The Sustainable Angle

On April 19th The Sustainable Angle was invited to take part in a panel discussion at the American School in London. TSA’s Research Fellow, Martin Brambley, participated at The ASL Sustainability Council discussion during Earth Week. The panel talked on the broad impact of the fashion industry on our environment.

During Earth Week students, faculty and staff looked attentively at conservationist approaches to becoming more ecological. Previously the school had staged a 'meatless Monday!’

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The panel was set up to precede the viewing of, ‘A True Cost’ a documentary which explores the unvarnished truth behind the production of fast fashion.

Jessica Sweidan, a founding member of Synchronicity Earth, introduced the panel consisting of Laura Miller, Executive Director at Synchronicity Earth, Heather Knight from Fashion Revolution and Martin Brambley from The Sustainable Angle

The discussion revolved around issues that are of most concern in the fashion industry, which Heather saw as mainly the huge environmental impact of throwing away clothing, on average a single person may produce 70kg of textile waste per year.

Martin spoke about the lack of knowledge in the fashion industry about such issues of textile waste, pollution stemming from the textile industry and pointed to the many innovations that can now be found as alternatives for example on show at The Future Fabrics Expo and its version online. The Future Fabrics Virtual Expo is a more advanced online research and sourcing platform showcasing a selection of the nearly 3000 materials and 100 mills and suppliers shown at the Future Fabrics Expo, with increased search capability, and opportunity for direct contact with mills. Martin also pointed out the importance of care and maintenance. Author Kate Fletcher also talks about how one of the biggest issues is the water used to continually wash garments instead of perhaps choosing fabrics that need less washing like Wool which is a fibre that is water resistant, air permeable, and slightly antibacterial, so it resists the build-up of odour.

Heather touched on an issue close to her company’s heart. Spreading awareness, to the consumer about who makes clothes. Fashion Revolution asked makers and manufacturers to hold a sign saying ‘I made your clothes’ and posting it online. Fashion revolution started as a reaction to the Rana Plaza building collapse. 

Heather enlivened the debate by acknowledging the audience as consumers with power. Heather invited the audience to use a powerful tool, asking the brand who made my clothes. A template is even available on their website to encourage consumers to ask these important questions.

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Martin emphasised that If more brands decided to diversify their fibre basket and include sustainable fabrics such as organic cottons, low impact leathers and closed loop cellulosic etc they would be able to reduce their environmental impact. They could also promote their use of more sustainable fabrics and support a supply chain that supports its workers, farmers and the environment.

After the panel Martin brought along fabrics from the Future Fabrics Expo which got Students, very interested and motivated to create more responsible fashion.

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On March 10th, 2017 The Sustainable Angle founder Nina Marenzi was invited to be a part of The CSR and Ethical Business Society, London School of Economics, roundtable on Fashion the Future: Towards Sustainability in the Fashion Industry” as part of their project week on sustainability.

The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. Textile waste is increasingly a serious environmental threat. In recent years, the acceleration in speed of the fashion supply chain and changing consumer attitudes towards fashion as a disposable commodity has contributed to the large levels of textile waste generated worldwide. In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year, and used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth.

The CSR and Ethical Business Society at the LSE aims to raise awareness and draw interest of LSE students on the environmental issues posed by fashion industry, the fast-fashion paradigm and the role of consumers; and current initiatives addressing these issues across the clothes lifecycle.

Panellists made up of David Logan, Nina Marenzi, Christina Dean, Caroline Haycock and Jade Galston, each presented on the issues, solutions and future plans from their point of view within their field of expertise:

The roundtable featured the following panellists:

Co-founder of sustainability consultancy Corporate Citizenship and former Director of Special Programs at Levi Strauss & Co has worked extensively on corporate social responsibility issues across the world. Founder and Director of The Sustainable Angle set up in 2010. The Sustainable Angle is a not for profit organisation that initiates and supports projects which contribute to minimising the environmental impact of industry and society, and that help make it easier for companies, institutions and individuals, to make better informed decisions when it comes to sustainability.

Christina Dean is a sustainable fashion advocate who founded Redress and the EcoChic Design Award. She has recently co-authored the consumer guide entitled ‘Dress [with] Sense’. Redress’s Frontline Fashion’, the documentary about how designers are changing the future of fashion has just been released and is available on itunes.

Christina Dean proclaimed that educating designers on sustainability is an act of environmental activism. Redress is helping teachers to learn about ideas on how to cut waste out of fashion, and generally about zero waste design and up-cycling.

Caroline Haycock has been working in Ethical responsibility and Quality assurance for more than 10 years she is now the Director of Ethical trade and corporate responsibility at Debenhams, Caroline has also worked on campaigns such as ‘Made by Great Britons' campaign in an effort to help bolster domestic textile production and revitalise the UK clothing industry.

During the talk Caroline referred to the work Debenhams is already undertaking with TRAID, a charity working to stop textiles and footwear from being thrown away to landfill reducing waste and carbon emissions, while raising funds to fight poverty. As well as the informative website on CSR and sustainability they have which you can see here: http://sustainability.debenhamsplc.com. Debenhams’ environmental responsiblitlies focus on carbon, energy and waste, reducing their impact through improved awareness of environmental problems, efficiency and sustainable investment.

Jade Galston founder of Fertha which gives a curated range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories that has been hand picked from one of their charity partners, creating a sustainable and convenient shopping experience, and extra revenues for the charities they  work with.

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The roundtable was a great success with good questions from the audience demonstrating how many young people and students are interested in sustainability in the fashion industry, are questioning the status quo and are ready to take action. You can find out more about the work of The CSR and Ethical Business Society at LSE HERE

The Eco Chic Design award has just been launched again and the deadline for application is 3rd April more information is available on their site HERE.

    The Sustainable Angle’s educational consultant and curator Amanda Johnston recently travelled to Argentina to present seminars and participate in workshops during a British Council and London College of Fashion knowledge exchange initiative during DISENO 2016. The program began in Buenos Aires, with a lecture to an audience of SME's about the issues surrounding the fashion and textiles industries, and to discuss what we can do to reduce our impact on global communities and our environment.

The talk was part of a series of events during DISENO 2016, organised by INTI, Argentina's National Institute of Industrial Technology Textile department which drew together a network of twenty participants from eight Universities, along with the young creators of start up brands. 

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The program then moved on to Tucuman University in the North East of Argentina to meet with the Randera’s; craftswomen continuing the intricate traditional knotted lace making technique of Randa. Following the Randa workshop, which raised issues surrounding authenticity, the preservation of craft and its potential place within a contemporary fashion industry. The team then arrived at the University residence in the breathtaking hills of San Javier for an immersive four days of creative workshops, think tanks and forming of manifesto’s that consider the social, cultural, ethical and ecological considerations of the role of the craftsperson, designer, and the impacts of the fashion industry.  

This initiative represents an exciting ongoing opportunity for exchanging knowledge and exploring education for sustainability across borders and cultures.

Education plays a vital role in moving the industry towards a more sustainable future, and we look forward to continuing to contribute to the debates and innovative development being initiated as a result of the increasing challenges our world is facing.

 

This year we’re planning to broaden the focus of the 5th Future Fabrics Expo, which concentrates on the showcasing of world leading material innovations and commercially available fabrics with a reduced environmental impact. In addition to the more than thousand internationally sourced sustainable materials we’ll be showcasing, we’ll also be shining a spotlight on some of the strongest young designers creating fashion with sustainability principles firmly embedded in their conception and supply chains.

The 5th Future Fabrics Expo will provide a platform for Redress' The EcoChic Design Award's designs to be showcased, highlighting both creative and desirable ways to produce fashion with less harmful environmental and social impacts through the reduction of waste.

You can find out more about Redress and The EcoChic Design Award below.

The EcoChic Design Award 2014 photoshoot

Redress EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 finalists photoshoot. Photography by Tim Wong.

Redress is an NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. They achieve this by educational sustainable fashion shows, exhibitions, competitions, seminars, research and via their recycled clothing standard. They collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders, including fashion designers, textile and garment manufacturers, brands and retailers, schools and universities, multilateral organisations, governments, NGOs, financial institutions and media organisations. Working with their partners, Redress aims to enhance, educate and enable the adoption of a more sustainable fashion industry.

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The EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste. Each competition cycle takes designers on an education and design journey lasting several theory and design-packed months. Firstly, Redress educate designers about the fashion industry’s negative environmental impacts and the sustainable fashion design techniques, zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction that can combat this. Secondly, Redress provide designers with the tools, via lectures, videos, articles and recommended links, in order to develop their understanding of sustainable fashion design. They also challenge them to source textile waste, in its many forms, to enable them to transition towards sustainable design and sourcing. Only then do we put designers to the ultimate test – to cut waste out of fashion – in our standout sustainable design competition. This puts sustainable design talent in the spotlight and rewards the best with career-changing prizes to change the pattern of fashion.

The EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 winner Kevin Germanier

EcoChic Design Award winner 2014/15 Kevin Germanier

Redress can be seen at the 5th Future Fabrics Expo on 29th – 30th September 2015, remember to register for your free pass!

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The brand new SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Awards (SCAP ELC Awards) is looking for designers to develop innovative solutions to clothes that are wearable for longer. The winner will receive £5,000 and the opportunity to progress their work and develop it for a commercial market.

SCAP ELC Awards is being brought to you by WRAP, the organisation behind the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and Love Your Clothes, with support from Defra, British Fashion Council, The Knowledge Transfer Network, InnovateUK and ModeConnect.

The SCAP ELC Awards will challenge designers to address the key reasons for garment failure, which lead to items being thrown away. The concepts not only need to achieve solutions to longer life times, but also deliver ideas that are fashionable and saleable.

‘Extending the life of clothes’ is a key focus for the sector commitment, SCAP 2020, with many retailers, brands and even reprocessers signed up to it; all aiming to reduce the environmental impacts of clothes. (SCAP 2020 signatories and supporters include Stella McCartney, ASOS, John Lewis, M&S, Ted Baker and Whistles.)

Marcus Gover, WRAP Director and ELC Awards judge, said: “This is a great opportunity for designers to bring this issue to life. By applying their creativity and innovation to either sourcing or developing low impact, high quality fibres, and engineering garments that will last longer, they can instigate real change.

“We need the sector to embrace this new approach to designing clothes.”

Resources Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “I’m delighted to support the launch of this award which celebrates the vital role designers have to play in developing and promoting sustainable fashion. Their innovations can bring us closer to a more circular economy which will benefit both businesses and the environment.”

All submissions will be assessed by a panel of judges made up of industry professionals and academics that collectively hold a wide range of knowledge and expertise in the sector, including The Sustainable Angle's curator and educational consultant Amanda Johnston, who is also a Lecturer at the London College of Fashion.

All interested applicants must register by 24 November 2014. For details on how to register and to view the full awards brief and supporting information please visit www.wrap.org.uk/scap-elc-awards.

Follow the progress and get involved on Twitter by using #design4longevity.

written by Charlotte Turner

Considering the abundance of design talent that has been seen recently from fashion graduates around the country, we wanted to share news of a collaboration between The Sustainable Angle, international denim company Kassim Textiles, and the London College of Fashion.

Through the Future Fabrics Expo, The Sustainable Angle facilitated the sponsorship of the latest project from LCF’s MA Fashion Futures course. Kassim Textiles generously sponsored the project by providing sustainable organic denims for the students to visualize their explorations of the parameters and practices used to make and wear fashion.

The projects, including Bodies of Work / Body Cut by Katharina Thiel, and Wearable Data by Caroline Yan Zheng, explored themes surrounding our relationship with fashion and the body (Theil), and engaging in speculative design to catalyse social discussion and debate (Zheng). Zheng and Thiel’s work was displayed in an exhibition at the Garden Museum.

Garden Museum Exhibition, Kat Thiel

Garden Museum Exhibition, Kat Thiel

Caroline Yan Zheng said: "As part of the Fashion & Gardens programme at the Garden Museum London, the LCF MA Fashion and Environment course had the opportunity to create garments practicing sustainable approaches. Kassim Textiles kindly supported us with their sustainable denim fabrics.

My personal approach is an on-going project, exercising the practice of speculative design. The aim of the project is to use design as a media to catalyze social discussion and debate over what life could be in the near future, to explore how to create clothes that make people think. The modern economies rely heavily on the development of science and technology, and while there is generally an overwhelming hail of all the benefits brought by them, the other doubtful impacts are less discussed. While clothes' role in modern economy is normally to encourage consumption, this collection hopes to make people think about their possible form and identity in the manipulation of technologies. The purpose is not to indicate what is right and what is wrong, but only to encourage reflection, to make fashion participate in social debate.

My research on speculative design will carry further to form my masters project, which explores values and identity by visualizing data in 2D and 3D forms, realized in knitwear."

Caroline Yan Zhieng

Work by Caroline Yan Zhieng

Sohail Ahmed from Kassim Textiles commented that "We at Kassim Textiles always believe in progress, and on this belief when we were approached by the Sustainable Angle to assist the students of LCF, we felt obligated to participate in these projects. This was our way of helping out future tex-perts complete their studies and step into the real world.... I believe that in not the distant future, sustainability will be the major factor."

You can find out more about Kassim Textiles and their sustainability on the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, and at the 4th Future Fabrics Expo in September.

written by Charlotte Turner

We are really pleased to announce the release of Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres. The book was written by The Sustainable Angle’s curator Amanda Johnston and Clive Hallett, who wrote the first edition together. If you haven’t already seen it, the accompanying volume Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book is very much worth a look too, containing over 100 swatches of widely used fabrics.

Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres

The book is an essential and easily navigable reference on a seemingly unending range of fabrics, providing in-depth details of their properties, technologies, terminologies and processes. Amanda and Clive have ensured the book “examines not only the visual and tactile characteristics of various fabrics, but also encourages a deeper understanding of their potential impacts by considering the provenance of fibres, and their processing routes.” This is something that we are always aiming to do at the Future Fabrics Expo as well, as by physically experiencing a fabric whilst being provided with the relevant in-depth information about provenance and processing, we are able to more accurately judge a fabric’s sustainability credentials, whilst evaluating relevance for the desired end application.

Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres

The Sustainable Angle’s involvement did not stop there. Charlotte Turner from The Sustainable Angle was invited to contribute to the book, researching and creating an easy to use certifications reference guide to help designers understand the scope and remit of the industry’s increasingly used certification systems.

Charlotte Turner in Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres

Whilst certifications are not the only way to determine the social and environmental credentials of a fabric, they can often help understand the benchmarks to which diverse materials have been produced and processed. As certifications can relate to anything from use of chemicals and fertilizers during fibre cultivation, to fair working conditions, treatment of waste-water effluent, or design for reutilization, it can be a confusing area to navigate. Take at look at the guide to find out more about some of the most commonly used social and environmental certifications (p.240-243). At The Sustainable Angle, in addition to evaluating fabrics using globally recognized certifications, we also assess fabrics against a set of environmental criteria developed with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, which can be seen here.

'FUTURE FABRICS EXPO' London 2011

Amanda says the book was conceived “with the intention of providing designers with a complete guide to natural and man-made fibres. The integration of crucial practical fabric knowledge, tactile appraisal, and examples of varied creative fabric interpretations is intended as an accessible guide for students and design practitioners alike.”

Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide: Natural and man-made fibres

Added to this, “the fibre and fabric journeys of both the natural and man-made fibre types are explored by mapping the historic, social and geographic significance of the fabrics that make up the very substance of our contemporary fashion products.” All in all, the ingredients for an invaluable textiles resource.

For those wanting something creative, the book includes hundreds of beautiful fashion and textile images, several photographed by the talented Myka Baum, whose photography of the Future Fabrics Expo you can see here and here.

You can find out more and order the book on the Laurence King website.

About the author: As well as curating for The Sustainable Angle, Amanda has spent several years working with the London College of Fashion as an associate lecturer, and as a freelance design consultant. Clive and Amanda have worked together as consultants within the fashion industry since 1982 having collaborated on numerous projects both in the UK and abroad.

 

written by Charlotte TurnerUAL-SA-Winner-Logo

We are delighted to announce that The Sustainable Angle has been selected as winner of the UAL Sustainability Award 2013. The award recognises the achievements of The Sustainable Angle as an organisation, and of the core team who have been bringing these projects to fruition over the past 3 years - Nina Marenzi, (Director), Charlotte Turner (Project Manager), and Amanda Johnston (Curator).

The sustainability award is the result of both internal and external recognition by the Award Panel, comprised of:

The panel particularly liked the way The Sustainable Angle's projects create the conditions for extensive learning, operating with a holistic view of sustainability and education and that successfully engage with parallel networks to foster connections and collaboration. There was also key focus on the fact that The Sustainable Angle's projects, (most notable the Future Fabrics Expo), have made a significant impact across a range of stakeholders including social enterprises, business and both UAL and non-UAL students.

The Sustainability Award recognises excellent practise:

We are extremely pleased to have received this recognition, and look forward to bringing together the 3rd Future Fabrics Expo in London, 22nd - 24th September.

written by Charlotte Turner

In June, Amanda Johnston, Curator for the Sustainable Angle, was invited to run a two day Sustainable materials workshop for students at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering Department for Textiles in Ljubjliana, Slovenia:

"I liaised with the British Council and University on the presentation of a Sustainable Materials workshop that would enable the students participating to gain an overview of sustainable thinking for the fashion industry, with materials as the main focus, considering the potential cultivation and processing impacts of fibres. To highlight this, I introduced The Sustainable Angle organisation and its work presenting Future Fabric Expos in liaison with the Centre For Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, showing a selection of sustainable fabrics from our collection.

The students selected fabrics that resonated with them as creators, recording their own sustainability considerations based upon The Sustainable Angle's environmental criteria, and thinking about questions they would ask suppliers to source best practice materials. Considering the dominance of certain textile fibres, an interactive pie chart of the fibre provenance of their own clothes was compiled, as was done at the last Future Fabrics Expo." (below)

TSA Future Fabrics Expo 2012

Image by Myka Baum

"The workshop was planned to coincide with a visit to Slovenia by London College of Fashion’s newly appointed Royal Patron, Sophie Countess of Wessex, and her husband Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex. They were in Slovenia to take part in various events aimed at promoting British innovation, fashion, heritage and business. Both the Countess and Earl were extremely engaged with the students at the faculty, and appeared to thoroughly enjoy their visit. I led the Earl around the students work, and introduced him and the British Ambassador Andrew Page to varied examples of innovative fibre developments from our collection.

A big thank you to all the British Council representatives, staff and students at the Faculty, who enabled the smooth running of the workshop and Royal visit, and were all so welcoming!"

Amanda Johnston, The Sustainable Angle, and Sophie Countess of Wessex, Slovenia

The Sustainable Angle's Curator Amanda Johnston presenting HRH Sophie Countess of Wessex with her books "Fabric for Fashion" and "Fabric for Fashion: The Swatchbook"
Image by Primož Predalič