JOHN PATRICK (DESIGNER, ORGANIC)
I predict that genuine charity, compassion and creativity—the new 3 C’s-—will start to take over all businesses large and small. As the supply chains become even more transparent and fragile,
both people and businesses alike will resort to ever more innovative and creative ways to survive a rapidly changing world.
One shining example of that will be Amanda Henderson’s debut collection of knitwear this February. Not to be missed.
GRETCHEN JONES (DESIGNER)
My hope is that sustainable fashion starts being looked at through consumers, not the machine behind the products and the press featuring us. I cannot sustain the (growing) costs it takes to be socially/environmentally/economically sustainable without a consumer base that actually chooses to support and sustain my efforts, let alone the standards and expectations within the industry I am a part of.
2013 for me is about balance and creativity within the way we run our businesses and the expectations I then impart on my consumers. Accountability cannot only be imposed on the ones trying to make small decisions to make more thoughtful and ethical products, it needs to be placed on the greater community.
Without consumer dollars/votes encouraging us to push the envelope with thoughtfully produced products, we cant afford to survive and the whole concept of sustainability fails.
My hope, is that we all together, start putting our money with our mouth’s are. 2013 is about investing in each other.
TARA ST. JAMES (DESIGNER, STUDY NY)
I believe the biggest change we will be seeing from inside the fashion industry, and in particular from sustainably minded brands, will be an overhaul of the traditional fashion business model.
Designers are realizing it’s no longer enough to just change their fabric sourcing, production methods, or sales and distribution. It’s time we step back and look at how business is done on a broader scale and make more-impactful changes to the way we approach consumers and the industry as a whole.
I have a very positive outlook for 2013, and I’m expecting exciting changes for myself and from others.
HOWARD BROWN AND KAREN STEWART (FOUNDERS, STEWART + BROWN)
The world is changing, is defined by change. It is both expanding—filled with near-infinite opportunities—and becoming more human and intimate, connected by the power of technology.
Collaboration is more powerful than conflict, consumption is more mindful, and youthful optimism is driving a revolution of responsibility for creating a better world. And, as the lines between work, home, and play disappear, there is the possibility for more balanced, beautiful, and meaningful lives.
CARRIE PARRY (DESIGNER)
A new direction is underway thanks to information and communication technologies. The shift focuses on the meaning behind products and caring about where and how they are made. Technology has disrupted the status quo and created myriad opportunities to connect more effectively with customers and artisans.
We can now see the tremendous advantage of the Internet to not only build more direct relationships with our customers but to also transparently show one’s supply chain and to educate consumers at a more engaging level. I see the fashion tech space having an exciting impact on the socially responsible fashion movement and vice versa. After all, they are both very much about transparency in our industry and the customer is finally demanding it.
Our mission has always been to educate and empower our customers and our industry to participate in socially responsible and sustainable lifestyles, and for 2013 we’re working on some really exciting concepts to bring more personalized and meaningful production directly to our customers.
MEGHAN SEBOLD (DESIGNER, AFIA)
I think 2013 will be all about reconstruction and evolution: breaking down our old processes and business models and creating new ways of working.
Our stories are written, we’ve mastered our crafts, we now just need exposure. It’s possible to scale up without cutting corners, those corners being wages and environmental care. I look forward to seeing sustainable brands partner with big distributors, retailers, and brands to make our creations accessible to a discerning consumer in an unsure economic time.
With integrity and ideals we have all chosen roles that make us responsible for caring for many moving parts. The more successful we are at growing our businesses, the greater impact we can have on the passions that got us going to begin with.
TIMO RISSANEN (DESIGNER; ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF FASHION DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY, PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN)2013 is the year that sustainability in fashion enters the mainstream on an unprecedented scale. H&M’s recycling scheme, while far from perfect, will bring issues around fashion waste to a large audience. What the scheme does not address can nonetheless be used powerfully: I hope this is the year we will begin serious conversations about over-consumption and the systemic transformation required to address it. Elizabeth Cline’s book was the perfect consumer-led opening to that conversation so let’s not miss the opportunity! 2012 saw two devastating garment factory fires, one in Pakistan in September and another in Bangladesh in November. Look at it another way, in these two fires 400 people lost their lives making ‘cheap’ garments for us, under conditions that became unacceptable in the wealthy west following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Bangladesh has had several similar fires over recent years but it wasn’t until 2012 that these fires began to appear in mainstream news outlets. We are more aware of our connectedness through our garments with such tragic events, and there is now consensus that such preventable tragedies are simply unacceptable. This also applies for the use of child slave labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan. Judging by the successful campaign to encourage Zara to pledge not to use Uzbek cotton, we are seeing the end of passive, apathetic fashion consumption.
Within fashion and sustainability research, in 2013 cross-institutional collaborations are taken to new heights. Local Wisdom, an international research project focusing on the craft of use of clothing led by Kate Fletcher at London College of Fashion, brings together seven universities from around the world, including Parsons The New School for Design in New York and California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The two-year collaboration will present its findings in 2014 and 2015, without doubt pointing towards deeper engagement between the fashion industry and fashion consumers.
If I can offer one piece of advice for the fashion industry for 2013, it is this: Let’s work together to shed some of the secrecy and paranoia that has for decades paralyzed any potential for shared conversations about common goals. Let’s then start those conversations.