Sustainability at #NZFW 2018
Sustainability in fashion is a topic on everyone's lips. There were touches of it scattered throughout New Zealand Fashion Week, including the robust discussion at the Future of Fashion Talk on Friday. Simpler mementos included the reminder to delegates that the NZFW goodie bags were reusable and the compostable plant-based cutlery on offer at the cafe.
A highlight was the Y-Our Hands workshop run by Rachel Mills and Maeve Woodhouse. We made purses and tote bags from reclaimed materials donated by New Zealand designers. Y-Our Hands is an enterprise which follows a buy one, give one model, so others can benefit from learning lifelong skills.
When talking to designers and brand managers, the hesitant pause was noticeable when they were asked if their clothes were made in New Zealand. Most replied defensively by stating that the clothes were 'designed' in New Zealand. Only some were brave enough to then say that the clothing was made in China. Others ignored this part altogether, completely sidestepping the question. It was awkward, but a question that had to be asked.
Producing clothes offshore is not a bad thing if the workers are being treated humanely and compensated fairly for their efforts. Those engaging in the conversation are smart. They are responding to consumer demand and future-proofing any PR disasters about where their t-shirts are really made. Recently, we saw that RUBY has released an Ethical Policy on their website, and are soon to publish an Environmental and Sustainable Policy. An example of sustainable leadership, we hope that other retail powerhouses will catch on.
The sustainable stand-outs of the week were the Good Sustainable Style and Mercy Hospice shows. The message was clear: ethical and sustainable fashion is here to stay.
The Good Sustainable Style show featured a variety of styles, from yoga, swimwear and sleepwear to street. It reminded us that ethical fashion isn't confined to one sphere. The brands on show were WE-AR, Ovna Ovich, Mane Project, Grumpysuns, Outliv, Tonic & Cloth, Papinelle Sleepwear, AURAI Swimwear and ReCreate Clothing.
Importantly, the Good Sustainable Style show did not compromise on style, yet the pieces were accessible. There was something for everyone in the audience to wear. It was also one of the week's leaders in diversity on the runway. As a woman of colour, the feeling of seeing someone who looks like you on the runway is like no other.
All in all, it was positive to see glimpses of sustainability throughout New Zealand Fashion Week. Although we have a long way to go in terms of transparency, a fashion revolution is here. Join it.