Can the fashion industry ever be sustainable?
Today as extinction rebellion protest at London fashion week. We look at whether the fashion industry is really trying to be more environmentally friendly. And why are so? Few women nominated at tonight's pretty awards. It's Friday night. I'm in the basement of the hotel knocks stage for capital show London fashion week. And I'm here with one of our producers Hannah more. And what are you doing here in a really bizarre turn of events a muddling in a fashion show? I've never muddled in anything before. Really I'm wondering I'm Jay because we're about to walk to this small wooden door that leads onto the savoys very granted folding by the catwalk show is happening this Christian Dior. How does I U K Fashion Show Michael? No pressure though I look around. This room is a lot of people here in amazing outfits. Some of them might you models some who are but everything you're wearing is made of recycled material. Why the design has recode been and there are sustainable brand. They tried to do as much as they can to create their own fabrics. Yeah this dress is made of plastic bottles. You don't let your an address coveted seashell. You've also got some mazing. Finale address made from nettles nettles nettles taken from Prince Charles's ground's moving together with horse half from Camilla Parker Bowles horses. It looks like it's made of horsehair. It looks a bit like a really jump and adult jumped an overly heavy and the thing is that as the models walk along the council can not stop is going to be shutting. It's going to be kind of biodegrading which is part of the point because it's a living piece of clothing. Do we are about to go see the door and you are on the cat war. How walking into the complete lack Hannah out from the Guardian. I'm Rachel Humphries. Today and focus camera fashion industry ever be sustainable as someone who's written about and claim for a long time. This is the sunk to your wardrobe. Yes and I don't actually go. She my very often. So this is a horrific moment case is one side of it and there's a door open to some of these pieces on like a time capsule for the sustainable fashion movement. Because I keep everything and this is like a lovely gold top. It's very silky. Yeah and that is from a designer. He Does Zero. Waste pattern cutting. What is zero ways cut says zero waste putting putting his pot design process? Where when you cut out your Passan. You are very very careful. Said es every scrap of fabric and. This is the jacket that they made which is zero. Ase Jacket is a lovely grey blazer with these sort of kind of copper metallic pockets. Yes I love this but you can see this as airways because we turn around. The back of the blaze is not a full back yet. I mean you would say it's got a hole in it. It has a massive hole in it. Because I wasn't in a fabric I'm GonNa put it on because everyone's laughing at me but I can see the shape is lovely and let's see also very incredibly stylish. I mean obviously go to make sure that everything's going on properly at the back because he didn't want to give anyone else a surprise. You know exactly. I began writing about the fashion industry in about two thousand and five thousand six. So that's quite a long time because I knew I had a problem. You had a problem I need A. I was a massive consumer fast fashion and I knew that it was likely to be having a big impact on my carbon footprint was the fashion industry talking about sustainability. Then no semaine lead the designer Catherine Hammett. Who's very famous for slogan? T. shirts in the eighties tooth life with all. I T shirt future. Save the fees. She had done a lot of work on the cotton supply chain for some reason. She had the foresight to think that the fabric that she was using her whole very successful business was predicated on was not cleaned. Its impact on the planet. Is John Numerous? So she started unraveling that supply chain at great cost to herself presumably and she'd unlocked this idea. That fashion was more than just the clouds in front of you so that there was stuff going on down the supply chain. I think for me personally. It had been some of my scientists friends who were saying things to me like. Oh you see that Cardigan you're wearing is got like twenty buttons and they're plastic and they're all made of oil and I thought that's really interesting. I hadn't really considered the genesis of the the fiber and they accessories in my wardrobe. I began to wonder how much of an impact fashion has on personal carbon footprints. That's where I really started and really I found quite quickly that it seemed really big and probably coming in sort of third or second to light transport. Heating your home and what you eat then. It seemed to be fashion and I was like. Why is no one talking about this? And as you say that's early two thousands known was talking about it and we are all Worl- then huge consumers of foss fashion and I'm just interested as you've covered it for so long. How fast fashion develop? How did we become that? Avid consumers of cheap easy to make loads will. It's a really big story actually and especially for us in the UK because we are from textiles country. We were a massive net exporter of clothing. So really fast. Fashion has started building pace since the industrial revolution. So this spinning Jenny was a means of making cotton. Yon By a machine if you like and as soon as cotton yarn became faster to make fast fashion was written. It was always going to happen. Said you look in some of the show from the nineteenth century. You'll find gentlemen. I use that word. Advisedly writing to some of the London publications and moaning that the housemates have no money to live on this month. Because they've spent it all on garments and these were the first ready to wear pieces. Obviously they weren't coming out of factories but they were coming out of From seamstresses who working in a production line so the thing about fashion as that it was always going to get foster and the thing about consumerism. As that there has long been a hole in a self worth our psyche. What at however you want to describe it which was going to be filled by a product. You give fashion space to fill and it will fill it there. No brakes on the fashion industry unless you put them in. I love this idea that it was as the victorians that came up with. What is now Zara? They would absolutely love fast fashion brands. They'd be really proud of that. They be as proud as that as you know. kingdom Brunell bridges. I think before any further. You've you've talked about both hit. It will be good to distinguish the difference between what we're going to talk about today. Which is sustainable fashion and also ethical fashion. These are very woolly terms. Good use of William. Oh yes I hadn't even thought that Increasing the say people using time sustainable fashion meaning decarbonisation. You're using less water so there's an environmental win for me. Ethical fashion means people and planet says the hands behind the clothing. How easy was it covering that in the fashion industry when I first published my book which is called to die for? Is Fashion wearing out? The world's spoiler yes I am encountered a loss of bemusement so one review suggested. The I was mad and the fact that I was taking a Gaughman which was fun. And you know disposable in many people's eyes and just something forbid of a laugh and working out how much oil had gone into production of it just seemed like a step too far from many people. There hasn't been enough of a progression because early on a lot of brands decided that they were part of the solution. Not Part of the problem and they were allowed to cross that Rubican without much. Pref- so what we've had is all decade where fast fashion brands have been saying. Hey we're also sustainable. We haven't had klay progression which nobody really wants to talk about. Ideal took a lot has been said about how damaging fashion is as an industry to the environment. But can you give me an idea of the scale? Yeah well the figures are disputed and the problem. Is that fast? Fashion brands have not been very forthcoming with bed data. So we all where we are. I reckoned back in two thousand eight. I sorta worked out with industry figures that we were producing about eighteen billion new garments year. Eighty billion yes and from the UN charter modeling. That's been done around the fashion industry by twenty fifty. The clothing industry could be responsible for quarter of the entire global carbon budget. That's not gonNA fly. This is the important thing here. Clothing production has not peaked. It is not going to peak for while yet and is projected to rise by sixty three percent by like twenty forty. That's another five hundred billion t shirts ladies and gentlemen so we need to do something about it. I'm just trying to help you help yourselves now. And it has been said. The fashion is the second most polluting the second most damaging industry to the environment in the world. Do you think that is true? No I think it's top five. I wouldn't be able to say it's second on any particular fabric so we can talk about particular materials very problematic. Well we basically split our wardrobes between cotton and polyester and they're both problematic cotton uses an extraordinary amount of water and it's grown in water scarce areas. Polyester is from oil so as you're linked to fossil fuels now. The real issue is that these are made from virgin resources. When we say virgin resources these brand new resources ripped from the ground or brand new cotton. That's being grown with huge water footprint. Because we not able to recycle old clothes into new clothes very efficiently then basically all of those comments being made from new stuff and we know that S- we have biodiversity problems. We have climate crisis and that we cannot just keep taking resources extracting sources and not putting anything back in. Is it better to buy organic cotton than ordinary? Cotton yes absolutely expect Bogan it. Cotton because the carbon footprint of that garment is going to be substantially less. It is unfortunate if all the organic cotton is brought up by massive chains where it only counts for tiny part of the inventory and actually what their main goal in life is is to produce haege amounts of inventory and polyester which they have no plan for. How can I get that back and lot of high street shops now? Zora h have launched conscious ranges case for water cares for fiber closing the loop to protect life. Fashion can become a part of the solution H in them conscious exclusive. Can I feel better about myself? A buying men. Don't let the fact that it's from a conscious range overrule all the other stuff that you should be putting in place. So do I need. This is their space in my wardrobe for it. My very simple thirty whereas rule. Will I wear it thirty times and do I know that right now this minute so all of those things are more important than what it's made from is also worth having a look if it's a better quality. Sometimes these ranges can be because the brands have used them as a little bit of a loss leader. Sometimes d think with eating a positive shift towards change in the industry and in Voss fashion in general I really do because I think the penny is dropping. The fast fashion brands are not going to save us. And the industry is not gonNA come and save us. You know the one pound Bikini. Yes I on a Monday. By launched a black bikini which was a pound. But yeah this is if this comes installed becomes like a regular thing. Get your hands on it. You know I did a lot of stuff around this. I looked under a microscope and I looked to the plastic content and I compare it to a wet wipe and the wet wipe his better. See better off wearing a wet wipe. Yes I mean. In terms of like construction I approve of wet wipes by the way. Please don't flush them his. Let's say these disclosure dating. Don't use what you've argued in the past the London. Fashion Week is a big problem and you support extinction rebellions call for it to come to an end and in September. They staged a funeral for the industry. Outside the shows we must now extinction the belly activists at London fashion week during themselves to the entrance of a venue. Protesting the industry's impact on climate change. We've proved that disruption does work and so we will continue to do that and to everyone all industries not just the fashion industry. Get on board and start you know acting accordingly to this climate and ecological promoted seat in new signs. Electric's Paul. Why was that? I felt that it needed a massive wakeup call and I felt that the British fashion council London Fashion Week hadn't shown any willingness to support the climate emergency in a meaningful way. At the moment we have a fashion week and this is not exclusive to London. I mean it's a global issue. Yeah lamb is a global issue where fashion weeks are not operating as if we're in a climate emergency. I think what really asking for is something that like has happened in Sweden so Stockholm fashion week was called off. Because the organizers said they needed to recalibrate the whole thing because they're just promoting opulence often and just designing more nuclear leading. Yeah it's promoting essentially more stuff much of which is made in the same way that caused the problem that's got us to this point. In the first place there are some designers. He trying to make a difference in a Cetinje trying to be innovative. When it comes to making clothing that is better for the planet? I mean we been an Omi- show on Friday. They're making clothes out of metals recycled plastic will vin me. I really really like so I was a conference in Costa Rica and there was somebody though wearing one sweat shirts which said. Stop fucking planet. I thought this is great. What an absolute message. Yes thank you in the last five ten years. We've seen that promise of sustainable action and sexy design coming together like having your cake and eating it so you know there's been the sustainable angle which is the sort of expos for new fibres and innovation happened in London recently and there was all sorts of kind of crazy cool things nettle fibers which is not new at all museum in Nepal for every thousand years. We also have modern meadows in New York at modern meadow or looking to take the building blocks of nature to create a whole new range of biologically advanced materials being able to isolate Collagen and Lever. So that they can grow lever without a cow which is very very clever. So there's a sort of split between regenerative fibers which are things like linen and flax which taking carbon and look into the soil as they grow so their carbon neutral so laden is good fabric because it's over carbon capture and that will say sorts of yes but who say nutrient capturing so unlike Qatar. Where a lot of Agra chemicals are used to produce the global cotton crop linen and flax those kind of fibers have been shown to lock that in and be beneficial to the soils when grown properly. So that's very promising. There's a whole sort of fiber shed movement looking at using those models and another thing that's interesting about and the fiber shed movement is. They're looking at using local fibers for local production. So you could conceivably at some point bias. Shirts that's made of like a linen suggested carbon and at the end of its life you could drop it back into the soil and it would biodegrade. I'm excited by feet too or I might plant my shirt in the garden may go but this is a serious point with anything compulsively bio-degradable so many years ago. I was sent out in a skirt and a top for the Observer newspaper to Road test these garments which are made of in J. O. Which is a coon starch fabric? Which was biodegradable am. I was very worried because it's a hot day that they were gonNA start degrading on the cheap. Actually they didn't find a little bit stiff. And I'm watching you in Africa Tortilla. Wrap on the cheese like a Tortilla. Wrap probably the photos in your archive. If you're really interested in that if you get hungry can you eat it? The work the design is doing is incredibly exciting videos. The trees you know they are a business. He did actually sell any of the clothes that they make the plays being seen at. These runways These innovative styles and not something that going to be accessible ever available to us at a price that we can afford with. That's really sad isn't it? Because if you think about all this energy in this effort for something that people are not going to get access to. That's absolutely ridiculous. But the trouble is that we've always said how do mainstream is. And the idea was always been. We emulate fast fashion and just make out of organic cotton but then it's not sustainable and it's not ethical because the business models the same as the same everything remains the same so we need to do better job at messaging. What's great about not being locked into fast fashion consumption so you say that being sustainable is also about making prophet? Would you might look to make a profit in different ways but it calmed bay to just be pushing out ever increasing amounts of clothing made of plastic onto the world's and then kicking the can down the road saying. Oh we're going to get better reciting it. Sustainable fashion may not feel accessible to everybody. But what can we all be doing to help a case to take shopping apps off your phone even if you did for month or two months give yourself a break. You're not constantly bombarded with imagery about what you should be wearing what you should look like if you are still shopping. Make sure there's a genuine place in your wardrobe for that government and it's going to be in service for really long time and have a look at buying secondhand if especially if you're one of the fifty one percent he hasn't done anything secondhand in the last year. This is now time to start and his charity shops. Or where else can people look the secondhand clothing beefing? There are other avenues. That are very very interesting. I think deep pops really interesting. I'm a huge fan of depot. Lifting might not know with deep PAPI's a marketplace essentially for buying and selling secondhand clothing. And it doesn't very well with younger. People in particular say ninety sports were is a really big thing was quite freaky from me. Stable fashion for all of us then is not about buying clothes made of Hem. It's just about buying less close it's about buying renting schering owning swapping repairing clothes that worked for you Thank you very much speaking to me and Feleti into your wardrobe. It's been a pleasure. Please written about this for the Guardian and you can find her work on the website where you can also read an article about walking and not falling over in the Vietnamese fashion. Show COMING UP. It's one of the. Uk's biggest music awards failing to recognize women now tonight marks forty years of the Brits Awards one of the most high profile music industry events with less than a handful of women and non binary artist receiving nominations for the Guardians. Deputy Music editor Laura snaps industry. Change is long overdue. So here we are again. It's debris was an I an as ever for the past couple of years as a dialogue of female nominees across twenty-five potentials lots of recognition mixed gender categories. Only one female artist was nominated. That was maybe we should recognize Sam Smith and non binary artist who was up there for their single with no money but yeah apart from that dire across the board. The explanation that the Brits is given for this is that the eligibility is only based on. What's in the charts to me? This is like them passing the buck from left hand too right because the Brits is run by major labels they each take a turn every three years to be in charge of it. A major labels released. What's going in the chart? So essentially they are blaming themselves. Not Putting out enough music by women in two thousand sixteen there was the Brits so white controversy and the crime had really broken through as a commercial force absolutely. No grandma's or black artists were nominated whatever that has changed which is really encouraging but it's primarily benefiting male acts because it's male rappers who breaking through in those industries. Female talent is not getting recognized at the same level. Personally I find it really confusing why this is happening. Because the Bush music industry is not incapable of breaking female acts. Adele is the biggest success of the twenty th century when you go back ten years ago artists like Florence and the machine and Lily Allen and although these very white artists they are coming apart from very different perspectives. It's not like something. We are incapable of doing over. The past few years a strain of conservatism has popped up around female artists as the biggest British stars of primarily become south white blocks enhanced with beards. There's apparently been kind of a disincentivize Asian for record labels to sign female because styling is more expensive and that kind of thing and then the ones that have broken through they tend to be kind of winded and say mode was the last week success. And you can see jewel. Lebron are being held up as a figurehead that other female exiting pushed into. They'll spend a few years on the training wheels. Doing guest vocals lots with big produces and then some of those big enough then they get the chance to make their version is horrible. Repetitive treadmill and I it fails me. Why the push music industries become so conservative. Because when you look to America Ariana Guerande lizard the big stars of the past few years and they are iconoclastic women who are getting to make the music that they want not just Focus Group. Don's Pop Bush. Music industry is still really male dominated. What we need is more women in positions of power in the industry at songwriting level to help push different subjects and different kinds of expressions of creativity. I think that would really trickle down to there. Being greater opportunity for a great diversity of female artists to break through again. We need to the poor specialized female talents in area of the industry. I think the festival billings have a really important role to play in this as well just last week. I saw Matt Healy from the nineteen. Seventy five saying that. He thought that rage against the machine will really great headliners for reading and Leeds. Twenty twenty and I replied to. I said they would be great headlines if they actually used their power to support gender equality of festivals and to demand it. Because I think that's the way it's going to happen and in response. He said that in the future he would only play festivals. That are committed to that kind of thing. My mentions have been a mess with folks. You know complaining about quotas. And how is the killer of creativity and Blah Blah Blah? But it's not at all it will encourage greater creativity because if record labels know that their slots to fill at high profile events where you're reaching young consumers because that's what's about really is money. They will find that talent. Fill slots because it's an opportunity for them. That was Laura Snipes. Thank you to her and Lee Siegel. Today's episode was produced by Hanna. More and Courtney Yousef sound design was by Akzo Coochie the executive producers on a Co Jackson and Phil Maynard. We'll be back with tomorrow.