Is It Up To Us to Change Fashion's Bad Habits? Panel Debate at Selfridges Manchester


Last night we went to an event hosted on behalf of the MATERIAL WORLD PROJECT.


MATERIAL WORLD is a project running nationwide to challenge the “can’t do” attitude of the fashion industry toward sustainability.


In terms of designing, sourcing materials, creating clothes & selling the products, it seems a lot of companies within the industry are “cutting corners”, so to speak and it’s putting both workers and the environment at risk.


Although many factory workers around the world working for big companies may be extremely talented, very few of them can afford to say no to the work (and the wage) that they are offered. Because of this, they can afford to make cutbacks on pay and put more money into not only profit but into being able to discard many products & materials.


On this topic, the panel made a point that clothing and materials are the second biggest source of waste in the world after oil. All of the discarded materials from companies, as well as our own rubbish, is going to waste.


This brought up the idea of ‘Fast Fashion’, a topic which was also brought to light at the Community Clothing event. The world’s constant demand for new products & trends means that we are buying clothes faster than we can even throw them away. Furthermore, the public’s ongoing desire for a ‘bargain’ price, means we are no longer taking into account the biggest question on everybody’s lips yesterday “how are these items so cheap?”


Another important question, that many people should take into consideration also is this:


“Who made my clothes?”


As Sophie Slater, one of the panel members and co-founder of ethical fashion brand Birdsong brought to light, we aren’t regularly considering who made our clothes and whether they’re actually being paid at a reasonable price to survive on.


The rest of the panel was made up of i-D magazine’s deputy editor Lynette Nylander, Illustrated People’s Phoebe Lettice Thompson and rising fashion star John Alexander Skelton, whose spring/summer 2017 collection was featured in the New York Times.


The whole panel collectively agreed last night that it’s time to see change within the fashion industry and that it’s our responsibility, as the consumer to put pressure on these big companies to make their processes & their levels of sustainability more transparent.


Environmental factors have always, sadly, been something that the public seem to find easy to ignore. But something that has been kept quiet for a long time is the fact that the fashion industry, even the biggest and most trusted brands, have serious human consequences.