We hope that you enjoyed our recent spotlight on “aesthetic sustainability” and interview with Kristine H Harper. As promised, we wanted to share a follow-up with some practical actions for you on your journey to conscious user-ism and a sustainable lifestyle.
We also wanted to share with you the exciting news about the launch of #LoveMeForLife campaign @prosperoarts which the Prospero team has been working on. The campaign offers practical solutions and everyday tips for prolonging the life of our clothes and slowing down our consumption rates without having to sacrifice the beauty, the feel-good factor, reinvention or communication that comes with shopping for new clothes. #LoveMeForLife will offer followers simple steps all of us can take to be conscious fashion lovers -- to love what we wear and feel fabulous. The campaign will also provide followers with carefully selected, useful facts and figures to help us all make better fashion choices. Finally @prosperoarts will highlight and celebrate the best practices in sustainable fashion and applaud those who are already doing a great job.
Given that it is unlikely that we will just stop buying clothes altogether, the second best thing we can do, while the big fashion companies consider alternatives, is to buy better and to becomeconscious consumers. Here are 5 easy tips to get you started:
Five things you can do - TODAY:
Before you buy anything, ask yourself if it is something you would wear at least 30 times?
Post a request on your favourite online store’s Instagram page asking to deliver in environmentally sustainable wrapping.
If you must indulge in some retail therapy, make your local charity shop your first port of call. Then tell people about it.
Get things repaired and refashioned. Follow #LoveMeForLife campaign to get inspired to do so in the most fashionable way!
And a bonus tip:
Support the circular economy within the fashion industry -- empower yourself by learning more about Cradle to Cradle Certification™️ and help build demand for C2C certified products (more info below).
Please join us @prosperoarts and share with us your sustainable fashion and lifestyle tips. To further inspire your journey we have an In the Spotlight interview, below, with a dear friend of Prospero World, Kavita Parmar. Kavita is a pioneer in sustainable fashion – fashion designer, consumer awareness advocate, amplifier of the textile artisan’s story and champion of the “prosperity chain” a transparent and traceable system that reflects the true value of clothing production while equitably rewarding artisans and producers within it.
Enjoy the interview!
Kavita Parmar is a fashion designer and has worked in the industry since she ran away from home at the age of 16. Kavita is a leading voice in sustainability and traceability and how to use technology to preserve traditional craft. From viral TED talks to addressing universities and platforms globally, the IOU project is used as a case study and has won many awards including the UNSSC leadership award.
Were there any particular experiences that led to your passion for sustainable fashion?
I have worked in fashion almost all my life and consider myself part of the lucky group that works in what they love. Having lived in 4 continents and worked in nearly the entire supply chain, I developed a pretty unique point of view. So when I moved to Madrid in 2001 and started my own brand, I built it around the things I valued most: heritage craftsmanship, durable quality, and unique design. So I guess I have always instinctively been drawn to a sustainable approach in creating product. We had our fair amount of success and were selling in over 300 points of sale globally by 2007 and it was only after the 2008/2009 market crash that I realised the industry was taking a sharp turn in the other direction.
It felt that fast fashion had won. Even prestigious luxury brands were adjusting the way they made collections to compete with fast fashion. Proliferation of e-commerce and social media added more havoc to the equation and you could see that the fashion business was in sheer disarray and traditional retail seemed to be free falling. My own brand lost over 70 points of sale (small independent curated boutiques with a personal point of view) in that one year (2009) and everyone around me including my staff started pushing me to create a cheaper collection.
Interview with Kavita Parmar,
Founder and Creative Director of IOU Project
Since I have lived in the Far East and seen the destruction that fast fashion has brought to the environment and the people who work in it, I was convinced it was not the way forward. It was out of sheer frustration with the fashion system that I started the IOU Project in 2010. To start a project focused on raising consumer awareness using technology to give full transparency seemed crazy and unfortunately very few really cared about our #whomadeyourclothes campaign until the Rana Plaza accident in 2013.
What needs to change in fashion industry in your opinion?
It is the business model that is no longer sustainable and needs to be changed. Our current model is based on over-production and then using the might of your dollar to buy eyeballs with social media /celebrity/ advertising to convince the consumer to consume frantically. Our industry is one of the few where prices of the product have gone down even when most inputs like raw material/dyeing/printing have all become more expensive. We have relied on trying to find the cheapest labour and lowered quality to continue feeding the beast. This has led to the consumer addiction to a use and throw away mentality and ever-lower pricing. The most important change has to be in creating real transparency about the impact and re-education the consumer about the effect their behaviour has on the environment. We need a much deeper shift and need to add more value to the buying experience by making the customer participate in the process so that they learn to savour the final product in a completely different manner. Buy less but buy better.
What is the main project you are working on now?
I continue to make wholesale collections in the IOU project as every season we try and add new craft communities to the line that we sell with specialty retailers like United Arrows, Arts and Science in Japan but what I am most excited about is a TV series that we are producing about heritage craft communities to hopefully enthrall a wider audience by the sheer beauty of what I most cherish in my work.
From your experience, how does culture and attitudes towards fashion differ around the globe?
Unfortunately in the last 2 decades the homogenisation of the globe as far as fashion is concerned has been alarming. Before, when I travelled to India , Mexico, Perú or China I would find completely different ways of dressing, colours, textures, textiles but now every major or minor city seems to be a carbon copy. On one side all the fast fashion shops and on the same boulevard the other side with the so called luxury brands. I call it “airport shopping” and it is heart breaking. Part of the pleasure of travelling was going back with something local that became part of your memory but now you are hard pressed to find authentic local craft of quality, all you have is cheap souvenirs that are mostly imported and of terrible quality. The developing nations have quickly caught the fever of conspicuous consumption and since the numbers there so large the devastation is even more.
Which small, everyday steps can each of us take to make a difference?
Buy local as much as you can! By buying directly from the artisan/producer/farmer/maker we ensure that our money impacts the local economy. It is important to vote and rally behind institutional change but it is the vote you give with the money you spend every day that has the biggest impact. Pick your cause and fight everyday for it. There is a lot that needs to be changed and the truth is, it is impossible to have zero impact but you can pick the causes closest to your heart research them and support the people and projects trying to make change happen however small they are. Like Mahatma Gandhi said: “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The fact that we are living in one if the most exciting times in human history where technological advances in the fields of AI, Robotics, Genetics, Biology will mean that even what it means to be human is under question. To make sure that we look back at this very exciting moment to reflect upon our history and past to ensure we don’t let technology become our master is what most motivates me right now.
Founder and Creative Director
The IOU Project
instagram : @kavitaparmar
Further reading and resources Prospero recommends:
Wardrobe Crisis podcast with Clare Press
Wardrobe Crisis is presented by Clare Press, Vogue Australia’s inaugural Sustainability Editor-at-Large, and the industry’s “go-to journalist” for sustainable, ethical fashion. Mrs Press, as she is known on Instagram, interviews change-makers, designers, creatives, and fashion insiders about the sustainability and the future of fashion.
#WearNext campaign – recently launched in NYC by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to tackle clothing waste and save clothes from becoming landfill. With less than 1% of old clothing being re-newed and over 90million kilograms of clothing being dumped, #WearNext is a city-wide effort to help clothing gain new life in a circular economy. Could London be the next #WearNext site?
Common Objective (Ethical Fashion Group Ltd) – a global fashion industry network with the goal of building successful businesses with a positive impact for people and the environment (people/profit/planet).
Fashion Roundtable -- a consortium and agency that advocate for the long-term strategic, inclusive, and sustainable growth for the fashion industry. Secretariat to Fashion and Textiles APPG
Cradle to Cradle is a design model and key certification standard supporting consumer choices for a circular economy in the fashion industry. Created by William McDonough and Dr Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle is a design model articulated in their seminal book and manifesto on conscious design, cradle + cradle, (2002, North Point Press).
Putting the Good back into Goods: From Cradle to Cradle Certification™️ look at the following 5 elements and award Gold, Silver or Bronze status to companies.
The 5 Goods of Fashion:
Good fashion according to cradle+cradle is not fashion that simply looks good or is mostly good. It is good in five important ways:
Good Materials – safe, healthy and designed for reuse and recycling
Good Economy – growing, circular, shared and benefiting everyone
Good Energy – renewable and clean
Good Water – clean and available to all
Good Lives – living and working conditions that are just, safe and dignified
So, when shopping, bear this framework in mind.