Fashion Reimagined

I recently viewed the excellent documentary about the label Mother of Pearl titled ‘Fashion Reimagined’. It’s about Amy Powney, the creative director/designer of Mother of Pearl, and her and her team’s effort to create truly sustainable fashion.

In this documentary we get to see how difficult it is to trace the origins of the fibres used to create fabrics. Knowing where fibres are grown, processed, spun, and woven is important when you want to reduce the distance of transport of the materials during this process (so you can reduce the pollution associated with transport). Who knew that a material can be grown in one country, processed in the country next door, then transported to another continent to be spun, then transported to yet another country to be woven, and then transported to a fifth country to be made into a garment. Finally, the garments will be transported for sale to wherever their market is.

As a consumer you don’t think about all the stamps your garment has been collecting in its passport during manufacturing. Brands are not informing us about this, for obvious reasons. And this doesn’t seem to be a problem that only affects fashion: I remember reading about shrimp caught in the North Sea by the Dutch being transported to Morocco to be peeled manually to then be transported back to the Netherlands for sale. This was apparently cheaper than employing people residing in the Netherlands to peel the shrimp and cheaper than inventing a machine for shrimp peeling. I am sure there will be plenty of other examples of seemingly unnecessary transport of products just to cut a few pennies off of production costs. But what are the costs of such unnecessary transport to the environment?

I couldn’t help but feel that globalisation has concentrated and spread out knowledge and expertise that used to exist within many region of many countries (after all, we have been wearing clothes for thousands of years). For instance, my hometown used to have a big textile industry where imported fibres were spun, woven, and turned into garments. This disappeared in the mid/late 20th century meaning job losses for local people. On the other hand, globalisation meant cheaper clothes for consumers as well as a lot more choice, especially since the advent of online shopping.

As a customer it is easy to see the advantages of globalisation because we directly benefit from it but the costs are mostly hidden, such as the tremendous use of resources, exploitation of workers in developing countries, and harmful effects to worker health as well as the environment where the fabrics and garments are produced. However, most people have access to the internet these days so it is possible to at least somewhat inform yourself on the effects of the production of your consumer goods.

‘Fashion Reimagined’ shows that it is possible to go more green and still create beautiful garments. We don’t get a lot of insight into the costs associated with this, but I assume it’s more expensive to be more sustainable. However, when you create higher-end garments, customers will probably be able to pay the extra cost and may find it worth it if they want to reduce the footprint of their wardrobe. For the average person it may not be so attractive to pay (a lot?) more for their garments, but if more sustainable is tied to more durable, then perhaps people will be convinced to spend a little more.

If you are interested in fashion and sustainability, ‘Fashion Reimagined’ is a great watch!

By Alex

I have been crafting since early childhood and currently do mostly sewing and illustration. 'Almalauha' is the project I started to showcase my sewing/fashion hobby, at least that was the plan. But because I like a million different arts/crafts things, I'm just going to share most of the creative things I do on this blog.

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