As established fashion houses scramble to pledge allegiance to the new ideals of environmentally-conscious clothing consumption, truly sustainable fashion is to be found in graduate fashion shows.
Unless a company has been founded on sustainable principles, the climb to the top of the landfill pile can be long, arduous and seen as insincere. How many times have we seen accusations of greenwashing when companies famous for their glib attitude to clothing waste bring out a ‘conscious line’?
Having experienced the world of fast fashion first hand, Humans Are Vain came about as a direct assault on the ‘normal’ conception of buying cheap clothing and feeling little to no guilt about discarding it after just a few wears. On a mission to offer high-quality vegan-friendly and classic pieces that you’ll love and treasure for many years, it’s been gratifying for us to see wider industry trend shifts taking shape, with fashion students leading the charge.
What exactly is sustainable fashion?
This is an enormous topic, but as an introduction, sustainable fashion refers to items that have been crafted with a view to extended wear, improved functionality and from materials that are less harmful to the environment than traditional choices. Organic cotton in place of virgin fiber cotton, for example. And of course, fruit and mushroom leathers instead of animal versions.
In the past, the fashion industry has actively cultivated a culture of little wear and instant replacement. By instigating seasons with multiple drops throughout, consumers have been led to believe that it’s perfectly normal to wear something once only to discard it when the next season begins. Sustainable fashion calls for an end to this mindset and seeks to offer a number of ways to combat it, starting with the next generation of designers.
Sustainable fashion in universities
While there are specialist sustainable fashion courses available, traditional college degrees are still structured primarily around the mechanics of garment construction, which has allowed students to bring their own ethics to the forefront of their designs. As veganism continues to gain traction and the importance of a circular economy is heavily promoted, graduate fashion offers insight into the potential future of one of the most wasteful and damaging industries in the world. And no time of year is more exciting, revealing or promising than the first weekend of June.
Graduate Fashion Week. The ultimate springboard for newly qualified designers to reveal their style to the world and in recent years, a global showcase of increased sustainability awareness too, bolstered by the possibility of environmental awards. But there is caution to be had. If graduates can stay true to their own sustainable fashion ambitions then there is real hope for a circular economy in the future, but if talent is snapped up by established companies, they run the risk of being shoehorned into an existing format. That job at Burberry might sound like a dream come true, but let’s not overlook the revelations that they burned millions of pounds of unsold stock, back in 2018 and that they only stopped because it was universally decried.
September is exciting and holds a lot of promise. An unofficial New Year, thanks to the academic calendar, it sees a new influx of fashion hopefuls taking to their lecture theaters and sketching out how they plan to change the industry for the better when they graduate. With significant steps forward in the creation of animal leather alternatives and a perceivable ‘less is more’ mindset shift happening, June 2022 is definitely a date to mark in the diary.