To celebrate Fashion Revolution and the progress the fashion industry has made towards becoming more sustainable, we’re asking experts in the field who we think are fashion’s revolutionaries to share some of their insight into the industry and the future of fashion.
Alden Wicker is the founder of EcoCult, one of the go-to resources for sustainable fashion and travel news and opinions, and president of the Ethical Writers Coalition. Alden is also a freelance journalist and has written for Glamour, Quartz, Newsweek, and Fast Company, just to name a few. Many of her pieces have gone viral and her work has helped educate and inform the sustainability community and the masses.
Why do you work in sustainable fashion?
In 2010, the food movement had really taken off. It seemed everyone was talking about the sustainability of food. I figured, if it matters a lot where our food comes from, it must also matter where our clothing comes from. So, I started researching and writing about it, for freelance publications and my own blog. It turns out it’s a much more complex topic even than food. Because you have farming, yes, but then you layer on top of that plastics production, synthetic chemistry, labor rights, and so many more layers in the supply chain. I’m a lover of research and facts, so I’ve been sucked into becoming an evangelical for taking the fashion industry seriously and trying to figure out what the truth is. And we’re just now figuring out how crucial fixing the fashion industry is to saving our planet – 8% of global carbon emissions by latest estimate.
Tell us about one item of clothing from your closet that embodies sustainable fashion.
My closet is packed away in storage right now, since I’m traveling, so I’ll choose an item that’s in my suitcase. I have this wrap robe dress from the brand Par en Par, which was started by my friend Laura last year. This robe dress hits all the points for me: it’s stylish, super versatile (a dress, a robe, a beach coverup…), made of organic cotton that was woven in a women’s coop in India and dyed with AZO-free dyes, before being sewn in New York. It’s machine-washable, and high quality. I’ve worn it at least 30 times in the past four months, and it still looks good as new. I know I’m going to treasure it for a long, long time! The only way it could improve is with certifications, but it’s still a small company…
What do you think is the biggest achievement of the sustainable fashion movement?
This movement is still so new, but I think I was really proud when the United Nations started sitting up and paying attention. Before two years ago, the people in power didn’t take fashion seriously. Now they’re starting to realize how much power fashion has to either improve or wreck the environment, and that focusing on fashion can help get the world to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
With regards to making progress towards building a sustainable fashion industry, who do you want to thank and why?
I want to thank Elizabeth Cline, a fellow fashion journalist who I very much look up to. She wrote the book on this topic, and was warning us about Bangladesh even before the Rana Plaza collapse happened.
Tell us a story about a sustainable fashion industry in 2030 – a day in the life of a worker, a consumer, through the lens of your business, etc.
In 2030, polyester and acrylic will no longer be used as fabrics, having been banned because of microfibers and replaced by textile equivalents that either biodegrade or can be infinitely recycled when we’re done with them. Cellulosic fibers made from agricultural waste will be the most popular type of fabric, followed by hemp, cotton, and linen. Europe will have banned any clothing made with toxic dyes, which will spur the industry to come up with alternatives. Most leather, silk, and fur will all be biofabricated in the lab without the use of animals. All fabrics will be stain repellent. And there will be a thriving rental and resale market for fashion, as we’ve simplified our closets. Oh, and women will have stopped wearing heels!
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