SASS BROWN (PROFESSOR, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY; AUTHOR)
The fashion industry has always functioned, to a great extent, on the trickle-down theory, as inspirational design is what fuels the influx of new designers, as well as mass-market producers and hence mass market customers.
While I do not believe that the current fashion system should be duplicated for eco-fashion, as it is evident it is not a sustainable system, based as it is on mass consumption and throwaway fashion, I do believe that eco-fashion and clothing must be accessible and available at all tiers of distribution to appeal to all people.
The building and expansion of luxury fashion labels is in great part, is what fuels other markets with its visionary design and, in the case of eco-fashion, ethics. It is my hope that 2011 will give rise to new eco-fashion labels at the luxury end
of the market, helping to consolidate as well as raise the level of design, quality, and ethics to a level that all fashion consumers aspire to.
For the existing luxury fashion industry, I also hope that 2011 will bring the realization that the investment in—and utilization of—heritage craft and skill sets
is true luxury, as is finding new ways of incorporating existing skills and traditions into their inspirational collections and supporting sustainable development within those communities.
With such a rich heritage of traditional skills around the world to choose from—Peruvian knitting, Indian hand-weaving, Indonesian ikat, Venetian lace, and Brazilian fuxico, to mention just a few—there can be no greater investment than in the natural capital and skills of indigenous and traditional communities around the world that carry generations of knowledge and tradition with them.