Talks & Workshops: Brighton Fashion Week 2015

“Clothing, unless you’re a nudist will work for 100% of the population” - Orsola De Castro

 

With an audience jam packed of designers, merchandisers, buyers, sellers, marketers, and students of The University of Brighton, we had a huge range of people all ready to raise the questions, where is sustainable fashion now, and what is the future of sustainable fashion? 

After such a successful day at The Open Market for the Love Your Clothes “Fashion Salvage” on Thursday, Brighton Fashion Week headed to Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton to continue to spread the word and get people talking about sustainable fashion.

This was an event to raise awareness and embrace sustainable fashion! The start and the future of sustainable fashion was discussed to establish how we can reach where we should be with sustainable fashion in the future.

 

Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution with Orsola De Castro kicked off the day.  Orsola De Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, spoke about her previous work and where she thinks the future of fashion lies.

Orsola De Castro is an amazing name in the sustainable fashion industry and has worked with companies such as Topshop, F&F at Tesco and Speedo, but the real beauty of Orsola De Castro is how she started out in the sustainable fashion industry...

Photo by Melina Matthiessan

 

Orsola candidly talks about an “orange jumper” that started her love for up cycling and sustainable fashion. One day she was going out and had nothing else to wear. The only jumper she could find had holes in it, but she wore it because she loved the jumper so much, and as she explained, the jumper was in fact orange! From this she made an entirely new jumper, repairing the holes with pieces of material. This sparked her creative flare for the art of upcycling!

“Taking something that isn’t considered worthy and bringing it back to life is what upcycling really is” – Orsola De Castro

Throughout the talk Orsola explains how her passion for sustainable fashion led her business to grow and with this her desire to change the fashion world.

“The pace of the industry changed, and the waste increased, and with this I changed. I became the environmentalist I am today.” – Orsola De Castro

Orsola had a business that started out only including herself and other workers from her hometown which led to knocking on factory doors for waste materials, then leading to Fashion Revolution in 2014, now prominent in 81 countries worldwide… This is an astounding accomplishment.

She explained – “Fashion Revolution has revolutionized my life”.

Fashion Revolution can be considered a movement, one that gets everybody talking, involved and embracing sustainable fashion. Asking the question “who made your clothes?”.

 

Photo by Tan Sharma

 

SCAP Presents TALK

Following Fashion Revolution we had a talk presented by SCAP, split into 3 parts featuring; designer Anne Prahl, Ben Thomas from MADE BY and Carol Rose the Technical Adviser for WRAP. The theme stayed on the environmental impact of our clothes and started out focusing on the importance of design in creating a sustainable garment.  With 70-80% of the environmental impact of a product being established at design and concept stage this is an important area for reducing the impact of our clothes on the environment.  Anne looked at various design strategies of which the most importance was designing a product for durability and longevity.  Ben Thomas went on to show us the impacts of the fibers in garments and produced an incredible benchmarking tool that designers can quickly refer to.  Carol Rose ended the three informative sessions discussing the “emotional” and “functional” resilience of clothes. She highlighted the artisanal craft of brands like Louis Vuitton and the cool tailoring of Dolce and Gabanna and how both the craft and the tailoring create emotional and functional durability making them more likely to stay in our wardrobes for longer.  All speakers referred to the unsustainability of the current fast fashion industry and how its cost cutting caused problems such as fabric degradation due to the lack of quality on the fibers of these clothes. At the end luckily Carol announced that a manual with much of the information they had share is being produced!

Photo by R Beckford

 

Joe Oram, who came along from AEG/Electrolux, then took to the stage with a surprisingly entertaining talk on washing labels (which were more like hieroglyphics!) and the importance of technology in aftercare of our clothing. Shockingly, the average number of times a garment is worn in this era of fast fashion is four times only!  He also told us that textiles produced to make our clothing has DOUBLED since the year 2000 and over 50% of our clothes energy consumption and water usage after our purchase so this is a big area of focus for them in reducing energy and water impact.  Joe ended his talk by introducing the eye opening film “the Next Black” which demonstrated the incredible extent of innovation coming to the fashion of future years!

This led perfectly on to The Future of Fashion Debate.

 

The Future of Fashion Debate

The Sallis Benney talks came to a close with The Future of Fashion Panel Debate: with Carol Rose (Technical Adviser for WRAP); Christine Gent (Executive Director of the World Fair Trade Organization Asia); Leah Borromeo (journalist and film maker); and was led by supply chain expert Clare Lissaman from the Ethical Fashion Forum.

Photo by R Beckford

 

The debate took us straight into the heart of how our current fashion industry works today.  Leah Borromeo claimed that there is a lack of ownership in terms of the products we own and people think they are just disposable but we need to take responsibility as someone is ultimately paying the price for these products.  She claimed that even ethical business models such as Fair Trade are still ultimately trying to produce a profit which she didn’t think was the solution. Clare Lissaman highlighted the work of large apparel company, Kering, who are not just measuring their profitability but their social and environmental impact too.  Christine Gent defended the motive for profit by saying it is how you use that profit that needs to be looked at and that you need profit to be able to invest in the environmental and social aspects of your business.

Carol Rose responded with a great comment saying that money and systems have no power other than what you put behind it and we all can begin to ask questions of the systems so they can start to bring about change.

The talks inspired audience members to contribute to discussions, with audience members seeking advice, asking questions and debating with our line of panellists. One audience member said that consumers had invented fast fashion so they could also undo that way of buying too.  A few audience members questioned why sustainability isn’t the norm when it is so important but also when they personally try to work with or buy sustainable items they can’t find anything or it is extremely difficult to find.  Clare Lissaman was quick to point out that the Ethical Fashion Forum could provide to businesses and students with many resources in this area.  It was great to see some aspiring designers and one student from the University of Brighton who used the opportunity to promote the People and Planet club at the University!

The talk then paused so we could watch the trailer of Leah’s upcoming “ The Cotton Film.”  The film cleverly contrasted the buzz of London Fashion Week with a trip to the cotton farming communities in India.  The trailer was powerful and captivating and was able to deliver incredible insight into the tragic issue of farmer suicides in the cotton industry.  It left the panel speechless at the end and showed the audience the significant relevance of the work of all the participants in the event.

You can view the trailer made by Dartmouth Films on thecottonfilm.com.  Donations are gratefully being accepted to help finance the completion of the film!

 

A quick chat with Carol Rose WRAP

The talks were inspiring and after the show, many people stayed behind to continue the debate further and talk about The Future of Fashion. We got the chance to speak to the technical adviser of WRAP, and one of our panellists… Carol Rose.

Photo by R Beckford

 

BFW: Carol, these talks have been amazing, and it is clear from audience participation that people are enthusiastic about this subject and want to see a change. Where do you see the future of fashion?

CR: I think we have to change minds, look to new generations; those are the people who can help make this difference. We need to apply pressure on power structures to change them and the way they are working.

BFW: You have been working on a project called the “Sustainable Clothing Action Plan” (SCAP). For those who dont already know, what is this?

CR: I will be talking about this in my talk “SCAP Present’s” later on and it is something I am very proud of.  SCAP is an initiative led on by the government. Our main focus is durability; it is a customer facing campaign.

 

After a jam-packed day of talks at the Sallis Benney Theatre, people were ready for the acclaimed Catwalk Shows.

 

Checkout our blog on Brighton Fashion Week Catwalk Shows that commenced on the evening of Friday 16th October at All Saints Church, Hove.