Since the pandemic began, there has never been more spotlight on the fashion industry and its effect on the global climate crisis. Many designers such as Dries Van Noten, Gabriela Hearst and Marine Serre have signed an open letter proposing an overhaul to the fashion calendar, in order to make their businesses “more environmentally and socially sustainable” (vogue.co.uk). Many of the industry’s business have speeded up putting in place their environmental strategies and numerous enterprises even aim to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Hence when Anna&I was launched in the late 2019, as a new company emerging in the heat of a global environmental emergency we wanted to send a clear message to all of our future clients that sustainability is part of our DNA and it is engraved in our company’s ethics. Being always in search for new incredible talents in the field of fashion, Jennifer Clair stroke us not only with her feminine and captivating designs but also with her strong desire to create a symbioses between luxury and sustainability more than ever before.
“As a couture brand, making an expensive product it could be assumed that the opulence equates to unsustainability. The expense of the product is assumed to be unnecessary which in turn leads people to believe that couture is excessive; excessive is the opposite of what the sustainable fashion is trying to accomplish.” says Jennifer. In addition to this, with a celebrity culture advertising couture brands, we are led to believe that once something is seen, it is never worn again.
I can prove the contrary and thoroughly believe this statement; couture is not money orientated. Even though couture is expensive, the industry is not controlled by greed. It is created by artists and worn by art collectors. Our products are beautifully hand crafted by talented couturiers using techniques that are passed down by generations. They are paid fairly for their talents and this is the reason why couture is the high end product it is, not because it is unnecessarily overpriced. Unlike fast fashion, couture doesn’t take advantage of the consumer telling them to keep buying each frequently new trend. Instead our beautiful pieces are hand crafted to fulfil our creative desires, to inspire our clients and to be treasured forever. At Jennifer Clair each design is created only once, highlighting more how special and completely unique the piece is to the client. This should inspire fashion on all levels to do the same. Promote that fashion should be unique to the consumer, and although seasonal trends can give guidance (and of course be seasonally appropriate for the weather), they should only be there to help support a unique creative identity. With everyone finding their own image and not conforming to seasonal trends, the fashion industry can focus on creating timeless design, using ecologically sourced materials and durable manufacture. Sell less for more and celebrate the creativity in fashion rather than transform it with greed. Those of us who adore fashion are tormented with how the industry has become to be portrayed, but there is still a chance to reverse the materialistic image.The other attribute of being a sustainable brand, after evaluating your purpose for the consumer, is whether your product is sustainable for the planet. We source our materials from a carefully selected niche of ecologically driven manufacturers and use digital pattern placement to ensure we minimise fabric waste. We align our delivery schedules to ensure we reduce our carbon footprint and our packaging is recyclable or reusable. In fact, in our atelier and office we recycle as much as possible, from our pattern paper to our art materials. What I’ve learnt from my time in the fashion industry, under my own brand and others, it is what goes on behind the scenes that defines the ethics of a brand.The descriptors of “sustainable” or “eco fashion” are given a stigma, an image to be catering to a minority market. Yet this has to be a concern that we are all taking into consideration for the benefit of our planet. We need to remove the image of burlap tote bags and batik printed linens to signify “eco fashion” because a sustainable brand can have whatever image it chooses. It is what goes behind the product that makes it what it is”.
Couture will always remain at the top of the chain of inspiration for the fashion industry and is responsible for the most iconic trends in our past. But now as we look to the future, couture should be an inspiration for creativity – and for their ethical values.
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