We’ve accepted that there is no way that we can go back to the same cycle of destruction created by the fashion industry. So when Atlas of the Future approached us about the project, Fashion Futures Media, we wanted to find out more.
Atlas of the Future is exploring what a planet-first fashion media for the future could be. Using a research piece titled Earth Logic by Authors Professor Kate Fletcher, Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, and Professor Mathilda Tham, Linnaeus University/Goldsmiths; we loved that the report was a demand for fashion to make a drastic change.We were even more excited to see co-learning as a concept – since that’s our DNA.
We’ve seen modern-day slavery at our doorstep, the poor conditions of Boohoo factories in Leicester, the amount of clothing that ends up in landfill (aprox £140m worth annually!) and the deadly chemicals often used for textiles.
Earth Logic is a concept whereby choices are made with the earth first, as opposed to the traditional method of profit-driving choices. In fashion, the biggest issue is overproduction, this demands that we produce only within the earth’s limits. Here is our condensed version of the Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan.
What is different about Earth Logic? How about the other methods for sustainability?
The Earth Logic approach sounds radical, and it does involve completely changing the way we approach fashion. We are constantly told that the only way we can interact with fashion is through purchasing, whereas the Earth Logic concept opens up new ways to engage with fashion, and it does not include our favourite solutions such as circular economy, recycling and tech. Here are some of the flaws highlighted in existing fixes:
The circular economy
Whilst the concept is great and ideal, it still promotes consumption and allows a business as usual approach. This model has emphasis on production and making more materials, which still provokes the mindset of creating without considering the earth’s resources. E.g. It is great that we have produced a product whereby the material decomposes back into the earth, let’s say, a fibre made out of milk, but have we considered the efforts needed to produce this material? Are we still causing pollution? Is the production process ethical?
The service economy
This includes rental clothing, leasing. It’s better to buy second hand, it means there is less demand for new and encourages re-use. The biggest question revolves around the resources needed to keep such services going. E.g. laundry.
AI and Technocentric responses
Whilst technology is great and can reduce waste (e.g. CAD design, 3D modelling), it is another industry with a massive waste issue and combining this with the fashion industry shifts the waste, instead of textile waste we may be looking at toxic E-waste (electronic waste). Again, the message is still consumption.
This does not include mending. The biggest problem with recycling is that we haven’t got it right yet. We have tonnes of waste and everything is not easily recyclable. This method also does not deal with the root of the cause. It assumes that we can continue to purchase and we have a solution for an afterlife, despite us being in a waste crisis. With tonnes of textiles in landfill or being shipped and producing piles of waste in African and Asian countries, recycling itself needs to be perfected and we can only do this if we slow right down.
We want to add, as Colèchi we have looked into each of the above models and believe they each have a role to play in creating the future – they may not be enough as a single solution.
Earth Logic – The 8 Values flow
Creating multiple spaces for multiple disciplines to thrive. Allowing multiple spaces to exist in order to cater to and celebrate the different needs of communities, organisations and individuals. Multiple centers exist to increase confidence and create spaces for more voices, leading to more creativity and bringing forth new possibilities.
An awareness of how things are connected. The actions of one will have a ripple effect on another. This looks at how individuals or groups interplay between each other. This is about removing the idea of ‘being in a bubble’ and understanding the role we each play in the wider movement.
Diverse ways of knowing
Sharing information and knowledge, and being open to the different sources of knowledge, wisdom, capabilities and creativity that exists.
This is collaborating beyond knowledge exchange and generating new ideas and actions. This looks deeper, co-creating often looks like being involved with a group or project and not seeing the end results, rather it’s about being in synergy and allowing the relationships to grow.
Action of research
The framework of this study. It’s a research piece designed for action. This research is ongoing and rooted in the community.
This isn’t about fantasy, this is rethinking how we join the world together within its limits. This is trusting our instincts and senses (using some common sense) and choosing to act rather than following external rules and targets.
Care of world
Everything that is done to maintain, continue, repair the world so that all can live in it as well as possible. (Puig de la Ballacasa, 2017). Care starts with the local environment and community. Care is concerned with others, and thinking about the consequences of our fashion system and resetting our priorities.
Care of self
It is important that we care for ourselves, as change always induces stress, and we must build resilience. The ability to care for others is determined by how much you are able to care for yourself. There needs to be space for voicing difficult feelings as well as celebrating life, humour and having fun.
Earth Logic – The 6 Holistic approaches
Less: Grow out of growth
The only solution is less stuff. We need to make less, consume less. We need to change our narrow view of fashion, shopping centers cannot be our only association with fashion, retail needs a new identity. The fashion industry emphasises that the only action we can take to support it is to buy more. During WWII rations were introduced on clothing yet people were still well dressed and used fewer materials.
We need to view fashion beyond consuming. We need to associate it with other activities. We can look at the economies of time, creativity, community and imagination. Includes thrift, care for other, gifting, hand me down between friends and family. Stretching resources.
Who’s doing it?
local: Scaling, re-centring
It starts with the community
Environmental and community priorities dictate industry ambitions. It involves the shaping of an activity by a region’s natural factors and by what is intriguing and dynamic in a place to ensure its long-term prosperity. This is important because not all communities or ecosystems are the same. the activities within them – knowledge, communities, products, cultures and practices – require adaptation, for example as a Londoner the needs of the community in parts of West London will be different to those living in South London, plus we have to take into account the social differences, income, class etc.
Overall localism reorganised power distribution, it moves away from big brands and into the hands of the people who are living in their communities, allowing them to create the world and systems they need.
Who’s doing it?
Plural: New centres for fashion
This looks at what fashion can be and what it can do. It is setting fashion free from consumerism and exploring other ways that fashion can exist and be enjoyed. For example we can use fashion to challenge underrepresented areas, such as ablebodyism, ageism, sizeism. Examples discussed in the research include – we can start fashion from nature, creating a studio in the local park or an area of wilderness. We can grow fashion expressions from the craft of use. We can honour fashion in non-Western Geographies. Each perception offers new models and practices, allowing people to create what they need from the industry. This model shows that human needs are not at the expense of other humans. We can create smaller spaces, create plural voices and therefore reach those that are often missed out of the mainstream fashion conversation.
Who’s doing it?
Learning: New knowledge, skills, mindsets for fashion
This is us – co-learning
In this case, learning reaches beyond the education system we are aware of in the west, this involves both professional and personal life. It includes practical and interpersonal skills as well as learning how to be a human in an Earth Logic way. A huge part of this is the process of unlearning, the earth logic model proposes drastic changes and we must unlearn habits of the past, such as constantly buying; the influencer culture and supporting cheap and unfair labour, whether at home or overseas.
It claims that each citizen has value, capability and responsibility to create sustainability. It avoids accepted roles of the learned and learner in favour of co-learning (learning together)ity. Live forums and activities can be complemented with online platforms and activities.
Who’s doing it?
language: New communication for fashion
In this concept, language means the co-creative relationship between communicating, thinking and doing. The language we use shapes our thoughts and actions. Communication makes these thoughts and actions visible, thinkable, doable and talk-able. An example is the term genocide, which when coined by the lawyer Rafael Lemkin after WWII, made it possible for the first time to prosecute atrocities committed to populations as a whole. A single word enabled a changed course of act.
If we bring it back to 2020, the black lives matter movement allowed a pool of new and existing vocabulary to be shared and used, allowing for meaningful conversations and a deeper understanding of experiences faced by black and brown people across the world. Words such as white supremacy, saviour complex have been analysed, discussed and accepted, whilst vocabulary to describe discrimination or racism at work, in public, and system have been formed and normalised.
Who’s doing it?
Governance: New ways of organising fashion
This landscape attends to how the system of fashion can be organised and governed to best respond to critical challenges, such as climate change, decolonisation, fair pay, discrimination, racial injustice …we can go on.
Who’s doing it?
Overall what does this mean? As we scroll through the sea of brands to discover which groups fit the earth first, this model has shown us that as a people, we do not yet understand sustainability, and the only way for us to understand it, and get it, is to scale right back. It’s to go back to societal problems and to collaboratively work together to solve this.
If we are going against the economy, our next question is what will the economy look like? The newer brands entering the scene have a difficult job of reimagining and creating models which are forever evolving based on the earth and communities needs, whilst juggling their livelihoods and income.
Our economy needs to downsize.