CONSUMERS need to ask “quite a lot” of questions about the clothes they buy and wear, says a leading global fashion designer.
Orsola de Castro, speaking to Tomorrow in advance of giving a keynote address to the Scottish Textiles Symposium 2014, said the public should question who made their clothing, down to the individual and not just the country of origin.
She said: “There is a massive problem. We need to rebalance those questions and start looking at a different way of employing people in a way that is more considerate.
“We have been removed from the people who make their clothes. We’ve lost respect for clothes making because we don’t see it done any longer. And we are very spoilt, so we don’t really want to ask those questions. We want to be able to buy whenever we want to, rather than because we need to. Clothes don’t actually grow on trees.”
The event was organised by Zero Waste Scotland1 and the Scottish Textile and Leather Association (STLA)2 to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry. A new fund was launched to encourage Scottish fashion designers to “create zero waste, closed-loop clothing and apparel ranges”.
Tomorrow has previously reported on the primary instrument of so-called “fast fashion”, modern shipping containers, and also investigated the possibilities and challenges of one region in Canada weaving a textile economy.
Ms de Castro started “upcycling” in the 1990s in 1997 started the upcycling label From Somewhere3 which uses “luxury pre-consumer waste” from Italian mills and manufacturers. She co-founded Estethica in 2006 and consultancy Reclaim To Wear in 2011. In 2014 she founded Fashion Revolution with Carry Somers.
Questions for debate during the day included, “Should we have a Scottish quality or Eco trademark – provenance marking?” and there were announcements of new funding packages as part of a “Love Your Clothes” campaign.
Carol Rose is textile spexialist advisor at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and entrepreneur, working with retailers to sell longer-life products.
Speaking before the symposium, she told Tomorrow that “fast fashion” is not going anywhere and everyone bore responsibility to changing the industry, from marketers to retailers to “the celebs who are the instruments of marketing for fast fashion”.
She said: “It is incumbent to start raising awareness of what’s going on – pricking the consciousness of the consumer. The consumer has a role to play. Why do I need this product?”
Ms Rose added that changing the infrastructure will be “very difficult” and established businesses have a responsibility to back emerging talent and initiatives.