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Sustainability in Fashion Retail

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Written by Ines Karu-Salo, Sign2Act. First published at Medium.

American author John C. Maxwell once said that teamwork makes the dream work but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team. That is probably true. I sometimes feel that fixing fashion is a huge dream, educating might take a lifetime and nothing changes without professionals partnering for improvement and sustainability.

Image: Ines Karu-Salo being interview for Estonian television show “Nädalalõpp Kanal 2'ga”.

19th of February was another important day for us who reflect sincere commitment to sustainability. That day the Environmental Audit Committee published a report called 'Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability'.

Fixing fashion is a call for action and it involves us all as the fashion industry’s current business model is clearly unsustainable.

Fixing fashion is a call for action and it involves us all as the fashion industry’s current business model is clearly unsustainable. The report calls retailers to step away from their unsustainable business models and work towards a more sustainable future. Yes, championing sustainable businesses is an important part of driving change towards a better fashion industry but we need others to take action too, show leadership and commitment in engaging with dissolving the current issues and for greater collaboration through engagement in sustainability initiatives.

Professor Dilys Williams, the Director for Sustainable Fashion Research at UAL London agrees with the fact that the current exploitative and environmentally damaging model for fashion must change and that fashion designers, makers, sellers, buyers, wearers, investors, educators, communicators and legislators need to all act in order to make a difference. She believes that vital to prosperity is access to education and the development of research and industry practice that is based on the valuing of nature and human equality in her response to 'Fixing Fashion: Clothing and Sustainability'.

Lately I represented my brand KiRiVOO in the Pure Conscious sector at Pure London, the UK’s leading fashion trade show. This year, the Pure Conscious collaborated with the Conscious Fashion Campaign, United Nations Office for Partnerships and Common Objective. I had several reasons for participation but mostly I made that call because I share the leadership vision with other sustainable businesses, believe in empowering sustainable development and that joining forces is vital to drive the industry change. Within these three days at the fair I also met students who came to work on a research project. That is a good sign as students now seem to have better access to education for sustainability in London. I do not remember the sustainable fashion to be such a hot topic when I was studying in the Universtity of Arts London (UCF) in 2012 and 2015.

It is also good that the report recommends a reform in taxation to reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and support a new sharing economy. One of the greatest challenges that us, sustainable brands, face is that those companies who do not value sustainable practises are considered successful. 'Fast fashion brands inaction on ethics is shocking' was published by BBC News less than a month ago. But I do believe that good businesses can be profitable too and that tomorrow is ours to win because environment and people should not suffer. So, I always try to replace my negative thoughts with positive ones to have positive results and not forget that only fear can limit outcomes. My goal in life is not just to survive but to do the right thing, thrive, and create a better and happier life. Let's keep our faces to the sunshine, and thanks for the reportand fostering sustainable practises.


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