MBFWA: A Discussion About the Future of Sustainable Fashion

It started with food: a slow but sure awakening of our collective conscious to the fact that what we put into our bodies is very important, and we should therefore probably know what's in it, and where it comes from. We've now started to realise that it's also important to know about what we wear: Who made that dress? Where did they make it? Where does its value lie? How was the material produced? With a strong movement towards sustainable standards and a need for adaptation to environmental demands a panel of international and Australian brands discussed what pioneering practices are shaping the future of our fashion and the future of our planet in the first seminar of Australian Fashion Week. Presented by Clean Cut, guests included representatives from Nobody Denim, Cue Clothing Co. and Kowtow.

MBFWA - Clean Cut Presents FUTURE TALKS
From left to right: Kate Bielenberg, Ben Esakoff and Gosia Piatek

Kicking off at 8am this morning was the first seminar of the week: “Future Talks”.

Presented by Clean Cut, the discussion, curated by Sunday Style Features Editor Clare Press with three panel guests Ben Esakoff (Nobody Denim), Gosia Piatek (Kowtow), and Kate Bielenberg (Cue Clothing Co), was surrounding mainly – as the name suggestions – questions about the future of Fashion; particularly addressing the sustainability of Fashion in the future.

Fashion defined an era and it narrates our style, personalities and moods on a daily basis. So why has the value of fashion changed and when did the disconnection with our garment begin?

Considering we’re currently experiencing an awakening of consciousness with regards to where clothing comes from (along with our food and everything else we consume), and the effect the supply chain has on societies and the environment, it makes sense that “Future Talks” be one of the first panel discussions to take place at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2015.

“What does the future of fashion look like? 3D printing? Wearable tech? Transparent supply chains? A renaissance of local manufacturing?”

These questions were definitely addressed and pointed out the sustainable and ethical practices that designers are starting to acknowledge over recent years.

The group discussed everything from how sustainability in fashion is the latest “trend”, to whether consumers purchase based on ethics, to how sustainable business models can also be successful business models, and what it means to be 100% fair trade and accredited.

Some key quotes I’d like to share from the panel:

  • “10 years ago ‘organic’ and ‘fair trade’ weren’t buzz words. Only hippies were into it.” – Kowtow’s Gosia Piatek
  • “Australians send $500 million of clothing and textiles to landfill every year, which is on average 30kgs per person. – Claire Press
  • “Accreditation makes sure that workers are paid what they should be paid” – Cue Clothing Co.’s Kate Bielenberg referring to every labourer that works on every stitch of each piece of clothing that we wear.
  • “I don’t believe in slave trade and I don’t believe in destroying the environment. – Gosia Patek

“Future Talks” delved into discussions of new developments and approaches to design, production, and fabric innovation that is surely grabbing the attention of aspiring designers as they try to keep up with the latest trends and constant changes surrounding the fashion industry. This seminar, I’m sure, was a learning curve for everyone involved, but it can only go so far unless we all acknowledge, support and aware of what is possible and start to make some changes.