Last week, I gladly accepted a chance to attend the Go Green NYC 2013 symposium held at the CUNY Graduate Center courtesy of eco-fashion and sustainable design website, Ecouterre. (Thank you!) The Go Green NYC conference is an annual, nationwide conference featuring talks by experts and recognized leaders in the sustainability field with a mission to foster learning and empower attendees with greener solutions, strategies and tools. Read more about Go Green NYC here.
I attended the closing presentation called “The Future of Fashion: The Rise of a Global Movement to Design, Source & Manufacture Responsible Apparel”. I was giddy with excitement as I love fashion and design as much as I love learning about sustainable development.
For this presentation, four equally interesting and diverse experts in the field spoke about current environmental issues plaguing the fashion industry, detailed their individual work or actions, and advised collaborate solutions for the future. Dr. Joyce Brown, President of the Fashion Institute of Technology opened the presentation by speaking about the future of fashion in regards to sustainability and the “green” values set into motion at FIT. She expressed that FIT must continue to teach, practice and share eco-conscious skills among students in order to continue leading the fashion industry’s future leaders.
Marci Zaroff, “ecopreneur” and founder of leading green fashion lines, Under the Canopy and FASE, Director of the Organic Trade Association board and the individual known for coining the term “ECOFashion” spoke about how the textile industry is a biggest polluter within the fashion industry and in the world. Zaroff contributed to the creation of the first Fair Trade Textile Certification with Fair Trade USA and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the world’s leading standard for processing organic textiles. Zaroff’s newest project, a documentary called THREAD, illustrates the environmental and health impacts of the textile industry. Watch the trailer for THREAD here.
Did you know? Cotton, the most popular fiber used for textiles, is also the crop most heavily sprayed with pesticides and toxic insecticides. This results in dangerous health conditions for farmers, garment workers and consumers while also destroying the soil, ecosystems and is the leading cause of air and water pollution.
Timo Rissanen is the Associate Professor of Fashion, Design & Sustainability at Parsons School of Design and has a PhD in what he described as “zero waste fashion”. Rissanen admitted he struggled with the fact that the fashion industry contributes to so many negative effects on the environment and public health to the point where it pushed him to take action. He teaches the “use practices” of the fashion industry in hopes of fueling change within his students and allowing for future innovation within the industry.
Sass Brown, author of notable eco-fashion books and Professor of Fashion Design at the FIT Florence program, showcased an example of designers who have chosen to create sustainable clothing and how they are leading the trend in sustainable fashion and reconstructing the industry norm. Brown writes about designers who are proving sustainability can exist in fashion in hopes of inspiring change.
All speakers echoed the belief that fashion and sustainability can co-exist if we change the understanding and buying patterns of users and consumers.
Overall, this was an inspiring, educational presentation that has changed my perspective of the fashion industry and the changes that still need to be made by those in the industry and by consumers. It’s true there’s still a long journey ahead for sustainable fashion and establishing change but with more education, marketing, strategic partnering and market innovation, I believe like these group of industry leaders, that sustainable fashion does have a future.
I was incorrectly listed as a student from FIT but I didn’t mind! 😉 Thanks to Ecouterre for letting me participate in this event!