Call To Action: Ready to Reformat the Fashion System’s Culture of Consumption & Destruction?

A recently released open letter not only addresses the elephant in the room, the desire for conspicuous consumption, it also challenges the fashion industry to transform its culture, politics and economics.

An open letter demanding action has been released. Delivered in video format, it includes quotes from fashion game-changers like Stella McCartney, Virgil Abloh and Alessandro Michele. Marking the launch of a new campaign by Extinction Rebellion called Fashion Act Now, the letter is a crusade of sorts. Led by Extinction Rebellion, it delivers a message that encourages citizens rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience when faced with what they called “criminal inactivity by their Government”. Supported by strong voices like Remake; Clare Press; Global Fashion Exchange; Lucy Siegle, Journalist; Tamsin Lejeune, CEO and founder of Common Objective; Safia Minney MBE FRSA, the campaign is on a mission to bring out the environmental campaigner in all of us. 

Image credit: Extinction Rebellion

As part of an ongoing call from Extinction Rebellion for a cancellation of the Fashion Week format, the people behind the open letter argue that there is no place in this environmental emergency for “carbon-heavy lifestyles, elitism and exclusion”. With the hashtag #FashionActNow already trending on various social media platforms, Clare Farrell, one of the activists behind the Fashion Act Now campaign shared in a press release: “We are in a crisis of the environment but also of culture, politics and economics. It’s beyond time fora change, and our industry knows it.

Rising Up and Promoting Fundamental Change 

Although change has been a long time coming, the lockdown has been the turning point for some fashion brands. Since it started we have seen more well-known fashion houses like Gucci making moves towards seasonless fashion. Saint Laurent has started to follow its own calendar and Dries Van Noten has called for reformatting of the fashion system. With letter quotes from Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council; Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear; Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director of Balmain and Stella McCartney, the open letter has been supported by notable figures who have expressed grievances how the fashion industry currently runs. 

Image credit: Extinction Rebellion

Driven by the fact that the fashion industry remains one of the most polluting and wasteful industries Sara Arnold, from the Fashion Act Now team wants people to remember what was said during this time of reflection. “This is a call for the industry, one meant to be so in touch with the zeitgeist, to use their creativity to galvanise fashion’s full potential to save life on Earth,” she adds.

On a mission to co-create a roadmap for a real crisis response from the fashion industry, the open letter released in video format was directed by Tessa Edwards and Kailash Bharti. Supporting the campaign is Tori Tsui, an intersectional climate activist, educator and mental health advocate. The voice behind the open letter, she shared: “We need a global awareness of the impact that fashion has, not only on our physical environments but also people. It is no surprise that the same systems that lead to overconsumption and environmental degradation are the same ones that further subjugate and exploit marginalised people.” 

Although there are brands out there that are thinking beyond the current economic systems and business models, the Global Fashion Agenda recently reported that on the current path we are on, the fashion industry would most likely miss its 2030 emissions targets by 50%. A sad prediction, especially since in the last few years there has been a lot of talk about circularity by the fashion industry. Still, the truth of the matter might be that the efforts to make the sector sustainable, with innovative technology, is far outweighed.

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.