What is fashion's role in climate change? That was the question Monday night as a panel of experts gathered for a NY Salon at the Soho House. Gone was the usual mindless industry chatter and instead came free-flowing thoughts from respected journalists from BBC, New York Times, and a major British Newspaper (who refused to give up their name). The panel was made up of James Woudhuysen, a Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University in the UK, Jeffrey Hutchison, a leading fashion retail architect, and Sandra Ballentine, Beauty and Style Director of T: The NY Times Style Magazine.
One of the biggest themes that resonated throughout the whole discussion was the concept of Green fashion, which has become perhaps bigger brand than an actual cause. The word "Green" has almost become merely a marketing buzz word thrown into press releases to grab editors' attention. Professor Woudhuysen felt strongly that textile engineers and scientists, not consumers, need to be the ones to make the changes. Quoting President Obama, he felt that the world is not going to change because I changed my "f-ing lightbulb". Which raises the question that even though we are buying into something green, are we making a difference?
Jeffrey Hutchison, the retail architect, argued somewhat along those lines by stating that we need more investment rather than indulgence..which is a difficult task for someone who spends their career figuring out how to get people to over spend. To make something sustainable, there needs to be concrete investment into the foundation of the industry. We have only used .11 percent of the stimulus money into science (which includes textile science) and there has been no big innovation in sustainable materials in clothing since the evolution of the modern spacesuit. So maybe we can't depend on the designers to create a line of green clothing, but start producing textiles that are more "green" as just a standard practice.
Of course, there was no right answer nor did anyone come up with the perfect plan on how to save the world (although someone stood up and demanded that we get bankers and CEOs who really have all of the money to support this into the room to discuss this with us) but it at least gave a few interesting perspectives on a pressing issue.
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