The Fashion on Display wrap-up party kicked off with a facilitated discussion on ‘Sustainable Fashion’. We welcomed participating FoD artists, shop owners, friends and interested people in Ottawa’s fashion community to gather at the Cube Gallery for an intimate chat to share perspectives, find common ground and brainstorm actions.
To get a sense of what sustainable fashion is, we first asked: ‘What is fashion?‘. A simple question that offered plenty of colorful answers. Fashion is change. Fashion satisfies our fundamental human needs: creativity, self-expression, warmth & protection. Fashion can represent our culture, religion or our social status. Fashion allows us to stand out, or blend in. Fashion surrounds us, it is everywhere. Fashion is the future…
We then discussed today’s fashion industry. Keeping in mind what fashion is, we surveyed the lay of the land and talked about whether or not the industry is producing fashion in a sustainable way. To give some context and spark some debate, the facilitation team presented their thoughts on the sustainability of the industry. Some of the environmental & social impacts were presented and discussed, such as excessive water & pesticide use, poor working condition & low wages, and the mass marketing & negative body images portrayed by the industry.
Is it possible to satisfy our human need for fashion in a positive way, without all of the negative external impacts on our environment and society? And, what exactly is sustainable fashion?
- A new mindset altogether
- Valuing skills & craftsmanship
- Personal self expression, unique pieces, emotional memory, resourcefulness
- Classic, well-made pieces that last a long time
- Sustainable materials are used: linen, silk, organic cotton etc.
- Higher & fair costs of fashion to include natural resource and fair labour cost
- New ways to consume: clothing swaps are awesome and free!
- ‘Closing the loop’ in production – 2nd hand materials are upcycled, textile waste is reused by industry
- Small-scale fashion houses can build trust in the community and cater to those without creativity
- Both consumers AND industry have a role. Consumers need to demand sustainable fashion and industry needs to increase its supply
- Lack of general education and awareness of sustainable fashion and why its important
- Our consumer society is all about changing fashion trends
- Lack of understanding about the price of sustainable fashion, and why it costs more
Finally, we brainstormed some creative actions that can take place here, in Ottawa:
- School workshops: teaching sewing skills, educating on sustainable fashion
- Older generation teaching younger generation skills
- Advertise locally on sustainable fashion
- Ask retailers more questions about sustainable fashion, helping increase demand
- Booth at the mall directing shoppers to local shops offering sustainable options
- Guerilla marketing: Flash-mob sustainable fashion show
- A public figure in the Ottawa community actively getting the message out
- Partner with OFW for sustainable/local fashion show OR Sustainable Fashion Week Ottawa with local clothing lines, shows, workshops and more
- Take advantage of Ottawa’s multicultural population and increase cultural fashion in Ottawa
- And of course, more clothing swaps!