• Emma Cartmel

Weekly wrap - 10

4 - 10 October, 2021


I graduated from fashion school over a decade ago. Looking back at images of garments I designed and made during this time often leaves me reflecting on how my approach to design (even my attitude towards the fashion industry in general) has changed over the years.


The social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry are certainly nothing new, existing back in the noughties whilst I was studying. However, I often wonder whether much attention was ever really paid to making us students aware of how the decisions we made during the design and production stage could potentially impact individuals right throughout the supply chain, as well as the rest of the planet. Did the concepts of ethics and sustainability ever cross my mind, or was the pressure of obtaining a good mark my only concern?


I stumbled across a really interesting article on the push to integrate sustainability into fashion courses. While I strongly agree that embedding sustainability practices into higher education settings is a must, I would go back even further. I believe that we need to be educating all school-age students about not only the environmental and human cost of making garments, but also textile skills such as sewing on a button, or hemming. This could go a long way in changing attitudes and behaviour, and pave the way for a more sustainable future.


What was it like when you were at school (high school or university)? Maybe you are still at school. Have things changed?

For this week's wrap I have also included articles on designing with waste in mind, what a sustainable future for fashion could look like, and the intention-behaviour gap among Generation Z and their purchasing behaviour. Finally, because this topic applies to all of us in some respect (we all wear and dispose of clothing and textiles), I continue with the topic of the second hand clothing industry, recommending a podcast.

Take a read

The article What Role Do Schools Play in the Fashion Industry’s Push to Become More Sustainable? from The Fashion Law, is a really interesting read. The article suggests that when it comes to fashion there is need to embed sustainability into the curriculum, and invest in students, recognising them as future leaders, in order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 target, which states that by 2030: 

“All learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

Can you guess what this jacket is made from? Maybe the pale blue and white colouring gives it a way?


Face masks are the very thing that help to protect us from the current pandemic, but they are also an environmental disaster. Not only are they made from plastic, but they are a huge source of waste as they can’t be recycled and won't biodegrade, and they are often single use.


Fast Company's article The wildly inventive way one designer used old face masks describes how designer Tobia Zambotti, based in Iceland, created the cleverly named 'Coat-19' from the ubiquitous face mask. Zambotti made use of the thermoregulating properties of polypropylene (similar to polyfill), which many disposable masks are made from, to make the stuffing for the jacket.


The big four fashion week's have wrapped up, finishing up in Paris. Instead of focusing on the must-have trends that come out of these shows, Good on You have shifted the focus, taking the time to ask 11 young voices, rising designers, and leading researchers one question -“If you could define one element of fashion’s future, what would you change?”


Their article How Could the Future of Fashion Be More Sustainable? 11 Fashion Students and Experts Dream Big offers some really interesting, and inspiring perspectives covering everything from;

  • Putting an end to relentless trends, instead focusing on a model of longevity of the product, and preservation of people and planet,

  • Removing the belief that growth equals success,

  • Stopping clothes from going to landfill,

  • Prices that reflect the true cost and value,

  • Putting a stop to overproduction and overconsumption,

  • More support for small businesses,

  • Filtering of greenwashing through the use of tech,

  • Integrating sustainability into all fashion related courses.

“I can’t take another picture in it because I already posted it,” - We have all heard something similar, or maybe like 21 year old Alessia Teresko, even said it ourselves. But as the article Out of style: Will Gen Z ever give up its dangerous love of fast fashion? from the Guardian points out, there is an interesting dichotomy among Gen Z. Despite being considered aware of social and environmental issues, they are some of the biggest consumers of fast fashion.


Why? Some of the reasons suggested in the article include:

  • There is this belief among young consumers that sustainability is a complex and ambiguous topic,

  • Keeping up with trends, which now change weekly, is a key incentive to consuming more often,

  • It is easy and affordable to purchase multiple items each week,

  • Social media has intensified the need and speed at which we consume (e.g. Haul videos)


Take a listen

You may have heard of the (controversial) phrase “obroni wawu”, or “Dead White Man’s Clothes”. An expression that comes from the idea that someone would have to die to give up so much stuff, implying that so much excess in not normal.


Activist, educator and designer Liz Ricketts is the co-founder of The OR Foundation (pronounced "or", standing for choice), and she has been working on a research project called Dead White Man’s Clothes, out of the Kantamanto secondhand clothing market in the Ghanian capital of Accra.


Every week, the Kantamanto Market, the largest second hand clothing market in West Africa, receives 15 million used garments from the UK, Europe, North America and Australia. A dumping ground for our (the Western world's) charity shop castoffs. However, approximately 40% of these clothes are of so poor quality that they end up as landfill (or simply tossed in the gutters).


Ep 150, Liz Ricketts - Waste Colonialism and Dead White Man's Clothes of Wardrobe Crisis, uncovers exactly what happens to our clothes when we donate them (probably not what you think), and delves into the complicated industry of second hand clothing, and it's equally complex solutions.


Head to Weekly Wrap - 4, which includes additional recommended reading and watching on the second hand clothing market.

Please GET IN TOUCH or leave me a comment. I would love to know what you have been reading, listening or watching this week.


Emma xx

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