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This article was originally published on Good On You on 3 February 2017.
Circular economies. Bespoke labels. Transparency and technology. It’s going to be a big and exciting year for ethical fashion in 2017. So we asked some our favourite ladies in Australia leading the way towards transformations in the fashion industry what their predictions for the year are.
Lisa Heinze – Author of Sustainability with Style
2017 will bring more growth in the sustainable fashion sector, particularly from entrepreneurs and new businesses who recognise the vast consumer demand for ethical, transparent and planet-friendly fashion. I think we will continue to see design progress both in terms of aesthetic styling as well as innovations such as zero/less-waste patterning, up-scaling the practice of upcycling, more fabric innovations, and more engagement with the sharing economy.
The trend toward small-run artisanal and bespoke pieces will also continue as more individuals choose to hone their personal style and focus on curating a somewhat minimal, yet still unique and fashion-forward, wardrobe.The major brands will also continue making shifts to be less unsustainable by experimenting with sustainable fabrics and/or improving transparency in their supply chains. There is enormous potential for the larger labels to make enormous, positive impacts throughout the supply chain, yet consumers and activists should maintain pressure on these companies to make these changes as well as encourage them to change faster than they may think is possible. The major brands that are able to make bold steps and communicate them openly and transparently will be rewarded by the growing group of ethical consumers who care deeply about these issues.
I also believe that, in light of global political events, 2017 will bring increased activism throughout society as people brimming with frustration seek outlets for their desire to create change. Enacting values through lifestyle and consumption choices will play a major role for many citizens because this is something we each have individual control over. This should manifest itself to an extent in the ethical/sustainable fashion movement, which will encourage everyone – from start-ups to established brands – to continue towards sustainable fashion practices. Of course, activism is always more fun (and effective!) when done with others, and NGOs and other groups working in this space should grasp the opportunity to facilitate larger scale projects with this group of engaged and energised citizens.
Clare Press — Author of Wardrobe Crisis & Fashion Editor-at-Large, Marie Claire
I can feel a real momentum happening. When I was first working on Wardrobe Crisis in 2013 most mainstream journos, fashion bloggers and brands were like, sustaina-WHAT? The landscape in 2017 is totally different.
There is so much buzz about, on the one side, designers and makers doing cool things in the sustainable fashion space, and on the other, the lighter footprint lifestyle. One of my personal focuses as a journalist for 2017 is around telling more stories about artists and creatives applying their thinking to sustainability. I believe there’s a hunger for it.
Of course, there is a long way to go before fashion completely cleans up its act but it genuinely feels like we’ve reached that tipping point where it’s more than a vocal minority looking for new ways to do things. And that’s what it’s all about. When these issues reach a mass audience, that’s when we will see real change.
Fashion Revolution Week is happening again from 24th – 30th April. Last year it was huge – with activism in more 92 countries. This year, we’re expecting it to be even bigger, with more people asking ‘Who made my clothes?’ and more brands responding in a meaningful way.
On a less positive note, the Trump presidency in the US and the broad swing to the right in Europe bodes ill for the environment. Now is absolutely the wrong time for the political will to tackle climate change to flag on the government level. Everyone who cares about the health of the planet needs to keep the pressure on our policymakers this year.
Mel Tually — Ndless: The New Normal & Fashion Revolution Australia
Circular Economy – The biggest buzzwords in the industry will continue to draw investment as more and more brands acknowledge that sourcing raw materials at current rates are having heavy environmental costs and that in fact, their customer could be their next fabric supplier. Take back schemes, rethinking waste, designing for disassembly, repair stations and cradle to cradle textile innovation will be high on the agenda as fashion goes circular.
Transparency is on the rise – more local and international retailers published supplier lists in 2016 than ever before. The transparency train has left the station.
Legislation – The limitations of voluntary mechanisms is becoming abundantly clear. The push for a local Modern Slavery Act as they have in the UK is now in play, so the expectations on brands to be good corporate citizens is higher than ever before.
Tech to trace – From blockchain technology powering stories to supply chain tracing tools, brands will be tracing to second, third and fourth production tiers and telling these tales to celebrate their human value chains.
Measuring impact – The move to decouple business growth from environmental and human rights impacts will lead decisions for the most progressive of companies. The framework of the Sustainable Development Goals gives structure to this decision making and data will be the driver for customer engagement.
Jennifer Ninni — Eco Warrior Princess
While I think that ethical and sustainable fashion will continue to be considered a ‘niche’ fashion category of fashion, in 2017 a greater number of brands and consumers will jump on board the ‘conscious fashion wave’.
This will help push the movement from the clutches of ‘early adopters’ and edge it closer – albeit at a snail’s pace – to the part of the bell-shaped curve where the mainstream consumers are. This is led, I believe, by the rising consciousness as witnessed by the popularity of organic food, and an increasing number of yoga practitioners, as well as the growing number of vegetarians and vegans.
We will also see more developments and innovations in fashion technology and wearable tech, as fashion businesses start to implement strategies to ‘future proof’ their customer base and ensure that they are meeting the demands of the conscious customer.
We will also see more fast fashion brands respond to customers calls for sustainability and transparency and follow the lead of the ‘Big Players’ such as H&M and ASOS whereby they will start to offer ranges to the conscious consumer.
Bethany Noble — Good On You
I think it’s such an exciting time to be in the ethical and sustainable fashion space. As these women have alluded to, 2017 is going to see continual growth and expansion. When I first started on my own ethical fashion journey in 2010, I could never have imagined how far we could come in 7 years; but there’s still more to do!
I think we’re going to see a rise of big fashion brands creating sustainable, conscious and ethical ranges and collaborations in response to a growing consumer cohort demanding more transparency and better treatment of workers and the environment.
But we need to make sure brands aren’t greenwashing consumers. That’s why transparent information and ratings are so important to keep these brands accountable. Tools like, (get ready for my plug), the Good On You app and the Baptist World Aid report are important so we can know the story of the brand and hold them accountable if the facts don’t stack up to their marketing.
2017 is sure to be a great year for ethical and sustainable fashion. We look forward to rating more brands, showcasing ethical labels and launching our app in the US and Canada!