ANTHONY LILORE (DESIGNER, RESTORE CLOTHING; BOARD MEMBER, SAVE THE GARMENT CENTER)
Don’t be a hater.
We, as a community, cannot knock people and/or companies for not doing something (green and sustainable) and knock them, again, for finally doing that very same thing for which we knocked them. It is the responsibility of the “cognoscenti” to light the way, to illuminate the path for those in search of that which is “better.” We must, in essence, be the luminaria and light at the end of the tunnel, through education and collaboration.
If H&M and Walmart are working on projects that fall into “green or sustainable,” that’s good. Fashion is about change, after all. “Fast fashion” should not be disposable fashion, however. If fast- fashion companies can make sustainability an honest part of their DNA as they move forward, then more power to them. Just know that deception is an entirely different song and dance.
CARMEN ARTIGAS (EDUCATOR, SUSTAINABLE-DESIGN CONSULTANT)
Currently there are two major trends appealing to consumers: authenticity and sustainability. Modern marketing is charged with bringing both to the masses. But in the case of H&M, marketing doesn’t suffice.
Authentic transparency puts the corporation and the consumer on the same informational plane. Companies such as Patagonia use this model to introduce the consumer to their supply chain. We learn more about the complexity of their footprint than we bargained for.
It sounds like H&M would not be able to support these claims. It would be interesting to break down the cost and track the supply chain of a $19.95 Conscious Collection dress, the same way Bruno Pieters’s Honest By label does. (He gives the full details of sources, cost, and even the retail markup.) This is the future of fashion.
DAVID PECK (DESIGNER, CROP BY DAVID PECK>)
The idea of fast fashion does seem to be at odds with the idea of sustainability. I salute H&M’s effort to be more honest and responsible in its manufacturing process, however.
Perhaps with companies as large as H&M raising awareness about ideas of sustainability, we will be able to have a much broader conversation about these important issues at the consumer level. I truly believe that the educated consumer —one who demands that sustainable business practices be a part of a company’s DNA—will be the ultimate catalyst for change.
ELIZA STARBUCK (DESIGNER, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS)
In order for fast fashion to be an acceptable method of dress in the future on this planet, the businesses that embody this model must meet the following requirements.
1. Address and find a responsible method for the end-life disposal of fast fashion.
If you’re going to make clothes that are produced to go out of style or fall apart within six months, invest in the technology and scientific innovations that will make them nontoxic and compostable, so that they will turn into organic garden soil after their shelf life has expired.
2. Remove labor abuse from the equation
Treat the people who have served to make your products as humans. Provide healthcare, retirement plans, living wages, 40-hour-or-less work weeks, childcare, and community education programs that teach permaculture and sustainable agriculture through land stewardship. In the future, three-dimensional printers will supplant laborers as the source of our clothing. Make sure that the people who have given their lives up to make your past financial success possible are not dumped, displaced, and left without survival skills when you no longer need them.
3. Commit to service as a part of your business model.
Reverse the damage that the fast fashion way of business has done to the collective consciousness and our natural environment. Hire a third-party organization to tackle and create initiatives that rebuild healthy social patterns, support and protect the environment, and help to rebuild the communities that have been stripped of all their values by a dress that only costs $9.99.
We all know by now that the resources, labor, and natural environment lost in the process of producing that $9.99 dress are far more precious than that. It’s time to pay back the difference.