TTL Attends: ‘Toxic Threads: The Dark Side of Fashion’

Courtesy: Advaya Initiative

As part of the journey on TTL, attending events, talks and exhibitions touching upon the subject of a greener and fairer fashion industry, will be a constant feature.

The first of which I attended was hosted by Advaya Initiative, titled, ‘Toxic Threads: The Dark Side of Fashion’. The series of key speakers including Orsola Del Castra (Fashion Revolution), Sophie Slater (Birdsong London), Dian- Jen Lin (Post Carbon Fashion) and Alex Noble (EMG Initiative), who each took to sharing their journey thus far in pursuing a positive change.

There was a great deal to take away from the evening; a personal highlight was discovering the tremendous label Birdsong London and their inspiring business ethic.

Birdsong Manifesto
Courtesy: Birdsong London Instagram

Here is a round up of the talks, with facts that truly hit home for me:

Orsola Del Castro:

As a leading activist and co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola spoke of using creative literature to communicate issues to the mass, demanding answers and how loving your clothes like they are literally your own skin, can go a long way!

  • Transparency is only the first step stakeholders in the supply chain can make towards bettering business practices as it will lead to more open discussions and taking full responsibility.
  • We are producing around 150 billion clothing per year that is resulting in severe over production, over consumption, and over wasting.
  • 95% of the clothes that we throw away (due to it becoming out of trend, over worn, or simply boring)- can be recycled or up-cycled.

Sophie Slater:

Co-founder of Birdsong London shared her thrill in working from a feminist angle by employing women locally to manufacture their garments. The all women’s groups range from ‘migrant seamstresses to knitting grannies’ forming an all female connection throughout the supply chain.

  • 92% of women’s groups in the U.K were under a funding crisis since 2010 which Birdsong London has started eliminating through its partenerships.
  • Birdsong London’s new collection is made up of 80% up-cycled fabric.
  • Birdsong’s buzzword: FEVERTISM- the amalgamation of feminism and veganism.
  • Fund raisers and profits by Birdsong goes towards funding improvement in the working environment, and wages.

Dian- Jen Lin:

| Design should be drenched in sustainability and dignity |- Dian Jen Lin

Winner of the Kering Prize coins her perspective of sustainability as ‘Regenerative Sustainability Activism’. She has based her Research & Development on textiles that Photosynthesises- absorbing Carbon Dioxide and releasing Oxygen.

  • Regenerative sustainability: is tackling the blind spot of passively alleviating environmental burdens.
  • Impact of t-shirt made from photosynthesised fabric:

Size S/M: 6000cm2 Surface Area= 0.728 of oxygen produced by a tree

Size M/L: 8600cm2 Surface Area= More oxygen produced than a single tree

Alex Noble:

A pioneer in driving ethical and sustainable fashion, Alex spoke passionately about how the dark side of fashion significantly outweighs the good and what he is doing in partnership with charities like Traid to change the scales.

  • As a designer, Alex talked about how most creatives in the industry are forced to work with brands they don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with when it comes to ethics. This shouldn’t be the case, as all businesses should really be prioritising the elimination of child labour, under paying and over working supplier employees.
  • The objective for all members of the apparel industry should be in challenging how we produce, sell and market our products.
  • PR firms need to take initiative in supporting ethical & sustainable brands that do not have the budget to approach them. They are entitled to press as they are a positive influence in the industry and need far more exposure.

All in all, the dialogues of the evening successfully fuelled me further to begin making even the smallest positive change in decision making, purchasing power and doing something to create a mini wave to a greener and fairer fashion world.

The words that resounded from Orsola for me were:

| Sustainable and Ethical Fashion are S*** words |- Orsola Del Castro

So… here is to less talk, more do!