Responsibility, Circularity, Sustainability: the Future of our Planet depends on The Future of the Fashion Industry, doesn’t it?
When the health emergency started back in March 2020, preventive measures of containment raised people’s awareness about the importance of living responsibly. This attitude spanned cross-sectorally, and the fashion industry was not an exception at all.
Fashion, in fact, benefited from a strong increase of knowledge about its multi-nature impact on our Planet: far from saying that before the pandemic nobody knew the consequences the fashion industry might have on the Earth - considering the three folds concept of sustainability - it surely encouraged many people to pay particular attention to the idea of ‘circular economy’.
Individuals concretely realized that companies are not supposedly the only ones to care about accountability, but even the mere human physical presence and personal lifestyle are relevant; every single human behavior in the micro-environment matters and can be of crucial importance assessing the full picture. Therefore, people, consumers, began thinking about the origins of either what they have or what they want to buy, and their related life-cycle.
Circular Fashion - Readapting the Fashion Industry
According to the World Bank, the fashion industry is responsible for the 10% of the annual global carbon emissions; studies published on Nature Reviews Earth and Environment tell us that every year the fashion industry consumes 1500 billions of liters of water, that wasted fabrics weighs more than 92 millions of tons and that chemicals to dye fabrics produce 20% of industrial water pollution. Also, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reminds us that irresponsible shopping counts around 500 billion dollars.
Circular Fashion wants us to rethink our relationship with the fashion industry, regardless of the individuals’ affiliation or the product life-cycle step we are considering, and try matching our own needs with the needs of the Planet itself. We are asked to change our habits and our forma mentis from linearity to virtuous circularity; process a new approach to materials, product design or retail: these three are in fact the main areas to work on so that fresh new models and solutions to fight pollution and climate change might be proposed.
Not only does Circularity prevent products from being wasted: also, thanks to smart design it allows them to hold their value both as a whole and as single parts, in order to extend the life of a garment - that means directly extending the life of our Planet.
Instead of choosing ‘destruction’, Circular Fashion goes for deconstruction, regeneration and revaluation.
“Extending the life of clothes by just nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.”
Upcycling - Rescue. Regenerate. Revalue.
Selected as the ‘Word of the 2019’ by the English dictionary Cambridge, Must Had couldn’t discuss Circular Fashion without considering the concept of ‘upcycling’, keystone of our philosophy by the way.
Historically, if we want to investigate the very origins of this creative process, we can find out that the first one to mention upcycling was Mr. Reiner Pilz, a German mechanical engineer, in 1994 (even though his talk was not framed in the Fashion field, but in Architecture though): during an interview, Mr. Reiner Pilz insisted on the difference between recycling and upcycling, stressing the ‘added value’ upcycling places on the repurposed product.
Then, in 1998, Mr. Gunter Pauli, entrepreneur and economist, used the term ‘upcycling’ in his book “Upsizing: The Road to Zero Emissions”.
Finally, in 2002 Mr. William McDonough and Mr. Michael Braungart used the term in the volume “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.
Contextually, instead, the world of fashion began discovering the benefits of upcycling back in the nineteenth-century, when both customers of haute couture and lower classes used to transform the materials of garments or reuse their clothes. Then this habit was taken back by the youth subcultures in the 70s.
Benefiting from ideas, craftsmanship and innovation, it’s fundamental to underscore, as Mr. Pilz did, that upcycling doesn't stop at the regeneration to the original state or function of the object, but it revalues and increases its quality, be it real or perceived, “pre-consumer” o “post-consumer”. Upcycling effectively creates value from waste, economically, aesthetically and emotionally, avoiding garments prêt-à-jeter, saving money and praising uniqueness. All the brands that we welcome on our platform are in fact characterized by beautifully singular approaches to upcycling, bringing their own traditions to drive the change.
We effectively gather in one place diverse examples of the upcycling process, a wide range of techniques in which anybody can recognize that small individual actions and small individual contributions, even at our own place, make the difference concretely.
They teach all of us about the fact that everyone might be equipped with appropriate instruments to rescue, regenerate, revalue, and live more responsibly: what we only need to do is finding the fittest for our habits.
Junkle - A virtuous case of circularity.
Let us bring to your attention a beautiful example of upcycling: the latest brand that joined our refashion community, Junkle.
Junkle has only started its activity recently, 6 years ago: born and bred in Sicily, precisely Palermo, Junkle discovers and upcycles discarded materials and industrial scraps to create either accessories or interior design pieces.
Specifically, the team of Junkle reworks discarded sails and reuses vinyls and outdoor textile scraps to produce long-life bags for every-day use, genderless accessories and textiles.
For example, the sails might come from famous fleets participating in international competitions and, once collected, are cut and stored in rolls to be used as fabrics.
Junkle artisans and staff purposely work with the aim to inspire ethical behavior and responsible consumption by recovering and reworking materials instead of wasting and giving them back to the biosphere in the short run.
There’s a real and heartfelt bottom-up educational vision behind the inclusive manufacturing processes, in order to positively influence the behavior of people and businesses.
Junkle aims to rouse consumers’ consciousness and directly speak to people’s souls through concrete actions, so that everyone might be empowered to disseminate even the basic principles of responsible lifestyle, move social conscience and reduce individual impact on the Planet.
“In a world where the only certainty is constant change, we cannot control circumstances – but we can definitely choose and shape our response to them.” - Junkle
Economically, it’s hard to believe that, in the short run, the current production system will comply 100% with sustainability: in fact, present conditions prevent from ensuring a real and truthful sustainable production. However, the aforementioned examples demonstrate that there’s a lot to work on and we can get as close as possible - up to a certain healthy extent - thanks to research, innovation and, above all, education.
As said above, not only are companies accountable for the impact of the industry on the Planet, but also consumers: thus, on a global level a social turn is today highly recommended, in order to give society the opportunity to appropriately process, together and in constant reciprocal support, the culture of sustainability.
People have the right to get informed correctly and equipped with all necessary instruments to develop critical thinking: once across society individuals understand it, we’ll concretely see the expected community lifestyle in the principle of responsibility.
It’s of crucial importance to put into practice and fill the gaps - still open - between engagement and taking action, benefiting from collaborations, partnerships and the network that gather around Circular Fashion.
Consistently with it, on May 5th 2022, the D-House by DYLOAN innovative space based in Milan, will host FashRev Lab, event organized by Fashion Revolution Italia in order to gather the community, attract interest and promote a more ethical, responsible and innovative Fashion Industry. Must Had is super excited to join the event bringing a part of our refashion community, who will exhibit their unique upcycled creations and show the regeneration processes through dedicated workshops.
We hope to see you there! Via Galileo Ferraris 1, Milan, 6.00 pm.