The fashion industry has been witnessing a significant shift towards sustainability and ethical practices. As the founder of various sustainability initiatives and an advocate for responsible advertising, I am deeply passionate about sustainable fashion education.
I am still in the early stages of my journey exploring various facets & concepts of sustainable fashion. What I do know is that we need to dispel common myths and misconceptions through educational and inspirational projects that the industry would welcome.
My first understanding and focus while taking what I call My Sustainability Steps are these three essential pillars—local sourcing, local making and local selling—these, to me, form the foundation of a more ethical and sustainable industry.
Understanding Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion encompasses a holistic approach that seeks to minimise the negative impacts of the fashion industry on the environment, society and economy. It emphasises responsible sourcing, production, consumption and waste management aiming to create a more equitable and environmentally conscious fashion ecosystem. However, there are many myths surrounding sustainable fashion that need to be addressed to foster a better understanding. We will discuss some of these myths over the next few weeks. Here are a couple that I get asked whenever I bring up the Sustainability Steps initiative, a project we launched in collaboration with the Australian Supermodel of the Year Academy and Sustainability Activist, Bandana Tewari.
Myth #1: Sustainable Fashion is boring and expensive
One of the most common misconceptions is that sustainable fashion lacks style and comes with a hefty price tag. In reality, sustainable fashion is a vast realm that embraces innovation and creativity. Sustainable designers are reimagining fashion by using eco-friendly materials, up-cycling fabrics and creating timeless pieces that withstand trends. While some sustainable garments may come with a higher price point, their longevity and positive impact on the environment make them valuable investments.
Myth #2: Sustainable Fashion is limited in choices
Contrary to the belief that sustainable fashion offers limited options, the industry has witnessed a surge in sustainable brands and collections that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. From casual wear to haute couture, sustainable fashion covers a broad spectrum of styles, ensuring there’s something for everyone who seeks to make a conscious choice. But let us remember, the hunger for more choices lead us to the climate crisis that we are witnessing in the first place. So demanding more choices in Sustainable Fashion does sound contradictory to me while I firmly believe in creativity and right to self expression through individual style.
Here are my three sample pillars of Sustainable Fashion
The first pillar of sustainable fashion is local sourcing. It revolves around procuring raw materials and inputs from nearby regions reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. By sourcing locally, brands support local communities, artisans and farmers, fostering a sense of social responsibility and economic growth. Additionally, local sourcing often involves more transparent supply chains which allows for better traceability and accountability.
The second pillar of sustainable fashion is local making which emphasises producing garments and products close to the source of raw materials. Local manufacturing reduces energy consumption and minimises the environmental impact of transportation. Moreover, it offers an opportunity for brands to ensure fair labor practices, safe working conditions and equitable wages for workers.
This third pillar encourages brands to prioritise local markets and reduce their reliance on global mass distribution. Local selling not only strengthens local economies but also fosters a deeper connection between brands and their communities. Engaging directly with customers enables brands to educate consumers about sustainable practices and the positive impact of their choices. And don’t forget the kind of brands that can be created when you know your material, your manpower and your market like the back of your hand. This is basically how global brands that we all love have been created. You can look at any luxury brand history and you will see that these were the three pillars of their success initially.
When the three pillars of sustainable fashion—local sourcing, local making and local selling, work in harmony, they create a circular and regenerative fashion ecosystem. Brands that adopt these pillars embrace circular design principles, emphasising durability, repairability and recyclability of their products.
The role of sustainable fashion education
Sustainable fashion education will play a pivotal role in transforming the industry and inspiring a new generation of conscious consumers and industry professionals. It involves empowering designers, consumers and stakeholders with knowledge about sustainable materials, ethical production techniques and innovative approaches to reducing waste.
As an advocate for responsible advertising, I believe in the power of education to drive positive change. By raising awareness and dispelling myths about sustainable fashion, we can empower individuals to make informed choices that align with their values. Sustainable fashion education is the cornerstone of building a more ethical and eco-friendly industry. By unraveling myths and embracing the three pillars—local sourcing, local making and local selling—we can foster a fashion ecosystem that values environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic growth.
As we continue our journey towards a more sustainable future, let us remember that sustainable fashion is not a fleeting trend. It is a collective responsibility to protect the planet and create a healthier humanity. By embracing sustainable practices and educating ourselves and others we can contribute to a positive transformation in the fashion industry, one conscious choice at a time. Let us envision a fashion world where style meets sustainability and each garment becomes a statement of values, love for the planet and respect for all its inhabitants.
And let us create powerful, responsible and successful fashion brands.
XPLAINED is our initiative to share, collaborate, learn and communicate with absolute transparency. The author, Kal Kalim, is a Melbourne based fashion photographer, brand strategist and communication designer who has worked with fashion and lifestyle brands in Europe, Asia and Australia over the last two decades. He believes in the power of authenticity, creativity, originality, kindness and purpose. Purposeful and meaningful communication is at the core of every campaign or collaboration that he likes being a part of. Kal especially loves working with brands & businesses that strengthen local communities and are inspiring the next generation of creators, designers, thinkers and entrepreneurs to be authentic, creative & kind.
Kal also manages an educational & learning-style beauty pageant & modelling academy called ASOTY ( Australian Supermodel of the Year ). ASOTY is focused on helping girls discover their inner beauty and the true supermodel within them. And prepare them for the fashion and beauty industry through relevant coaching & ongoing mentoring. A similar program for men was initiated in India too during the pandemic. CDMTM ( Clothes Don’t Maketh The Man ) is world’s first hybrid program focused on coaching and grooming men towards becoming a better version of themselves.
Kal loves travelling, and collaborating with people who want to make this world a better place through their word, walk and work.