As a fashion journalist, for years my job has been to scout new fashion and business trends. I’ve traveled to trade fairs, sat through fashion shows, interviewed insiders about their work, not knowing which crazy fad would hit the industry next. (And let me tell you, trends are fickle little friends.) However, in recent years, one topic has emerged as a permanent fixture – and that’s sustainability. No major trade event goes without a seminar on the impact of textiles on the planet and who should pay for it. Each season, game-changing innovations in weaving, dyeing, finishing and recycling enter the scene, promising savings on energy, water and raw materials. And yet only a small percentage ends up on the catwalk or shop floor.
Frustrated, I started to investigate.
A friend of mine, who is dealing with far more complex matters (he is a theoretical physicist), gave me a really great tip once. He listened very attentively to some trivial problem I was boring him with, and he said: “You know, I used to be just like you, asking, ‘why this, why that?,’ until a professor sat me down and said ‘David, don’t ask why, ask how.’”
I find this piece of advice very useful because it applies to literally anything, from black holes to the complexity of supply chains, and very often it not only shows the problem, but also suggests a solution. When I asked why the industry was not moving faster towards a sustainable business model, the most popular answer was:
“Because it costs more.” When I asked how much more, it turned out in some cases it was literally a matter of cents. It became clear very quickly that the poor math was further complicated by a lack of vision, an unwillingness to do things differently and, finally, the designers’ own lack of knowledge in the matter, which indeed can be confusing.
Consequently, I decided to write a humble, little guidebook called “Making Jeans Green. Linking Sustainability Business and Fashion,” fact- and stat-based enough for the professional to be useful, but also anecdotal to attract the high-street consumer. It is slated for publishing in June 2018 by Routledge (you can find more info on it here), and will be linked to this website.
My wish is to keep denim aficionados – both on the manufacturing and consuming sides – informed about what is going on in the green department and help them navigate through the blue world, so please check in regularly for updates from studio visits, trade shows, mills, shop floors, and more.