'Fashioning the Future' Review. By Melissa Chaplin
On 20th May, Fashion Roundtable were delighted to participate in the ‘Fashioning the Future’ panel discussion hosted by the Young Fabians Arts and Culture Network. Our CEO and founder, Tamara Cincik, spoke on the panel alongside prominent voices in the field. These included Mary Creagh MP, who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee, and conducted the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry Inquiry. Edwina Ehrman, the curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s stunning Fashioned From Nature exhibition, was also speaking. The other speakers were Jenny Holloway, CEO of FashionCapital and Fashion Enter Ltd, and Vanita Badlani, founder of the vegan fashion house LaBante. Mhairi Tordoff chaired the discussion, which explored the relationship between fashion and nature, and steps to take going forward in the industry.
The event took place in Portcullis House, and was extremely well attended. At one point, it was standing room only. Edwina Ehrman spoke about the big picture in fashion, tracing the changes in culture. Drawing on examples from the Fashioned from Nature exhibition, she explained the drastic increasing in the commodification of fashion in the last 50 years.
Our CEO Tamara spoke about the connections between fashion and policy, highlighting the need for more engagement on the part of politicians with the fashion industry. She commented on the fact that ‘It hasn’t been the norm for people in the fashion sector to be in this building’, emphasising the role Fashion Roundtable plays in highlighting the fashion industry to policy makers.
Jennifer Holloway underscored the potential represented by manufacturing within the UK, nothing that it would reduce the carbon footprint created by shipping. Moreover, she commented that if the clothing produced were better matched to the domestic market, in theory it may reduce waste. She commented that exploring UK manufacturing options might be a way to make the domestic fashion industry more sustainable and ethical. She highlighted the potential represented by new technology such as blockchain to improve transparency in the supply chain.
Mary Creagh MP brought her expertise from the Environmental Audit Committee, and spoke about the need to destigmatise second hand clothing. She highlighted the connection between social media and fast fashion, noting that both can be detrimental to mental health. She also contextualised the UK as compared to other nations, noting that ‘The UK buys twice in clothing what Italy does, overconsumption of fashion is linked to poor mental health, and there is huge exploitation of workers in UK clothes factories.’
Vanita Badlani spoke about the possibility of developing further government support for sustainability hubs, which could unlock the potential of small ethical businesses. These could be centres of collaboration, and could reduce the costs of operating within cities like London.
Ultimately, whilst there are undoubtedly major problems that need to be addresses, there is also a great deal of hope in fashioning the future. The connection between industry leaders and policy makers created by Fashion Roundtable will be invaluable in navigating the changing landscape of the UK garment industry.