The second annual Australian Circular Fashion Conference was recently held on Thursday 21st March 2019, and it opened a can of worms on the industry. Our addiction to fast-paced trends has embedded environmental issues in the fashion supply chain, but this is precisely what the ACFC stands to challenge and change.
Circularity may seem like a bit of a buzz word but this is no passing fad. Circularity is something the industry must address, and now, if there is to be a future for fashion at all. We're currently burning Earth's resources at 1.2 times what’s actually available, and if you can wrap your mind around that statistic, you'll quickly realise what it means for the future of our planet. We’re consuming above and beyond what the world can physically sustain, and our habits are a ticking time bomb.
Global fashion production has doubled since 2000, yet we’re keeping garments half as long. 85% of textiles end up landfill. Fashion uses 20% of the world’s water resources and generates 10% of the world’s GHG emissions. There’s conflicting research on our ranking, but many say that fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry - trumped only by coal.
These statistics are embarrassing, to say the least, but they are the driving force behind the Australian Circular Fashion Conference, and the reason why we need such drastic change in the industry.
The City of Port Phillip's Mayor, Richard Gross, agrees, and he opened the ACFC with an address that piqued ears, launching straight into a confronting issue that needs immediate action: climate change. “Climate change needs to be at the top of our list, it is the most important issue in the world. The consequences of consumption are evident, now, today. Global warming and freak bushfires and the demise of the Great Barrier Reef… Climate change is happening, and we can deny it no longer. Every piece of clothing we wear is embodied with energy and water - our resources - and no one is exempt from the duty that we owe to the environment.”
If only every government official valued sustainability and the issue of global warming as strongly as Mayor Gross. This kind of high-level industry reform is what the ACFC’s founder, Camille Reed, is deeply passionate about it, and her words were more relevant than ever. “Fashion is why we’re here. We all love fashion and we all have an emotional connection with fashion, but going forward, we need to make our love affair with fashion viable, because the way we’re currently operating is not viable. We need to do it better. We are getting lost in the day to day activities and we are forgetting about the bigger issues. We think about what’s due yesterday and the deadlines we have to meet, but we’re not thinking about what we have to change in order to survive tomorrow.”
‘Tomorrow’ is not something the fashion industry has ever given much thought to, other than within the realms of forthcoming trends, but the future of the industry and its impact on the environment needs the most attention. We need to be building an industry beyond the next season, and it is clear that circularity is a proven way to achieve this. Recycled textiles, biodegradable materials, waste management, reducing and eliminating chemicals, improving agriculture biodiversity, and considering the end of the garment lifecycle during the design phase; no stone can be left unturned in the push for change.
If the turn out at the first and second Australian Circular Fashion Conference events are anything to go by, circularity and sustainable change should start filtering down through the supply chain, albeit slow and steady. Stay tuned for the next ACFC and as in the meantime, you shop sustainably here and start getting in involved as a consumer.
The Fashion Advocate x