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Debating fashion and sustainability

Within the framework of Madrid es Moda, the platform  The Circular Project  has organized an exhibit and a day of reflection encompassed under the title “Smart Fashion = Slow Fashion. Madrid: A Sustainable Development Goal “. At El Paracaidista headquarters, 17 local and global sustainable fashion brands have exhibited their pieces, corresponding to the 17 millennium development goals set by the UN.

Exposición en El Paracaidista

On the other hand, on Saturday, January 27th, there was a conference on this subject, which considered how fashion is an essential tool to achieve a more egalitarian and sustainable world.

The day began with Paloma G. López, founder of The Circular Project and President of the Sustainable Fashion Association of Madrid, stating that we cannot afford to lose more time due to the alarming environmental situation. “The designer of the future will be sustainable or it will not be”, she assured, while admitting, “we define ourselves as slow fashion, but the truth is that we are in a great hurry to change things”.

“We claim the concept of smart fashion because fashion has to be ‘intelligent’ in a broad sense. Innovation is fundamental, starting with the search for new recycled or ecological materials, but we also need a fundamental change in the production system beginning at the design table “.

Next, José Illana, from the agency Quiero, began with a premise regarding the transformative capacity of fashion: “Fashion is much more than an industry, it is a language and a form of expression that touches people’s hearts. We have to take advantage of fashion’s ability to generate emotion with the consumers and turn it into a catalyst for change. ”

On the other hand, biotechnologist Yunaira Méndez spoke of the new and surprising materials that are revolutionizing the fashion world, from fabrics from orange peels, coconuts or pineapples, to threads obtained from the DNA of cobwebs. Yunaira showed how global brands are investing in research to create new intelligent fabrics that adapt to the needs of people, while being respectful with the environment.

A good example is what Spanish brand Sepiia is doing, a project we got to know first-hand with the intervention of the founder, Federico Sainz de Robles, who presented the “made in Spain” shirt designed to last, adapted to the human anatomy and with a minimum of maintenance: anti-stain, does not need ironing and does not retain odours, besides being breathable and elastic.

Craftsmanship, sustainability and smart fashion go hand in hand: we have to go back to fashion with a purpose and a soul to achieve change. These are the words of Susana Nakatani, designer, who also pointed out the importance of intelligent fashion reaching all people equally, avoiding elitism.

From the United States, journalist and activist Ruby Veridiano, in charge of Remake, made a call to the empowerment of women through the unpostponable transformation of the fashion world. Clothes don`t change the world, it is changed by the women who make them. Presented and translated by Mariel Jumpa of Slow Fashion World, she pointed out the need for fashion to be included in the feminist agenda. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of gender equity, we must bear in mind that “fast fashion empowers some women at the cost of the slave labour of thousands of others. We have to connect with them and tell their stories with dignity. ”

In her speech, designer Sylvia Calvo, also president of the Sustainable Fashion Association of Barcelona, ​​said that the key is in design when converting the linear economy into a circular economy. “The circular economy is the train that is passing in front of us and to which all the companies will have to jump into. We are already consuming the resources of one and a half planet and mortgaging future generations. ”

Roosmarie Ruigrok pointed out the importance of cooperation between the different initiatives: collaboration between countries is essential for sustainable fashion to advance, but always looking to the recovery of local production, a concept inherent to sustainable fashion.

The day ended with a round table, attended by some of the organizations and companies most committed to sustainability, such as the British Council (Ludovic Assemat), Greenpeace (Celia Ojeda), Oxfam (Alberto Abad), the Sustainable Fashion Associations of Madrid and Barcelona and Ecoalf (Carol Blázquez).

They all agreed that fast fashion impoverishes the entire chain. The change in which we are working will lead to sustainability being the norm, hence it is not necessary to indicate on the label that a garment is sustainable, in such a way that the offer is flexible enough to reach all corners of the textile sector as well as reaching all the public (including haute couture). Likewise, it became clear that sustainable fashion has to communicate the authenticity of sustainable projects and use the same weapons as multinationals, a key element to reach the general public.