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Photo: Jeda Hutchison

DRESS LIKE YOU CARE!

Coco Chanel wanted to empower women. She took her innovative ideas of style, strength and empowerment and incorporated those in her designs and in her brand’s message.

Jean Paul Gautier made a name for himself with his well-known "gender-bending" style: creating kilts and makeup for men and pinstriped suits for Madonna.

Alaïa, the sculptor of fabrics, profoundly impacted the silhouette of the modern woman. He was a self-professed “free man” that rejected corporate fashion. During one of his last and extremely rare interviews he shared his perspective as to the changing times of fashion:

“Young people want change in this industry. We could do fewer collections and obtain the same results. We don’t lose any money if we do less.”

Beyond the clothes we wear, fashion has always been a way to define societies: defining social status, indicating privilege or demise, expressing ideas and even sometimes political stance.

Chanel, Gautier and Alaia are a few leaders in the industry that used their creative talent as a vehicle to express their desire for change. Their approach and various creations resulted in exquisite garments, works of art, being displayed in museums around the world today.

Fashion is at once, an art, an industry, a social act and a “thermometer” to our world, allowing us to gauge our current moods and obsessions. Heroin chic, hipster, grunge, punk, preppy and a myriad of other words have defined trends and the garments that illustrate them. Embedded in our collective consciousness, fashion is an integral part of our lives. Whether we love it or hate it fashion strikes an emotional chord in all of us.

As of late, that emotion (to put it lightly) is a rather conflicted one. Fashion today is a complicated business involving varied supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimate disposal of the garments which are all part of a complex cycle.

Fast fashion has now become one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world but any trend forecaster will tell you that there is a new spirit. That new spirit and the expectations of the younger generation is one of change paired with an “enough is enough” mindset.

The never-ending cycle of collections and the overproduction of garments are drowning us in a sea of items that are evidently not needed and expressively not wanted anymore.

Today, thanks to the work of a few dynamic ethical leaders and chief care officers, we have a dialogue but eco-efficiency will not be enough, fundamental change is vital and it is urgent…Sustainable fashion must challenge many accepted norms of the fashion industry. Brands should implement business models targeting, workers safety and wellbeing, promoting longer life cycles of items and transparency.

Our biggest challenge is to change our attitudes. For instance, some buyers may still be skeptical about sustainability and it is still hard for many ethical brands to get the press coverage and the retail space they deserve.

We all need to choose and think differently: designers, buyers and consumers alike.
Environmental wastage, unregulated manufacturing, an obsolete and “schizophrenic” fast pace fashion system are now known facts. Everyone can also recognize that solutions are not impossible to put in motion.

A change in attitude, the Rana Plaza’s tragic wakeup call and a strong desire for a new paradigm in fashion is creating a virtuous circle of brands and initiatives with a sustainable and ethical agenda.
These initiatives are promoting change, transmitting heritage and integrity, values that are shifting not just towards the environment but that are also contributing to communities at large.

Conscious consumption is replacing mindless shopping. The desire to invest in items that are worth passing down. Collections that appeal to consumers who demand more authenticity. Garments and items that are attached to a social mission and an impactful business model.

Over the years, WHo CAREs!? has identified several great practices. Through unique leadership, these great practices come to life and create a healthier and a more caring environment. Fashion is amid an unprecedented breakthrough and a meaningful transformation. The caterpillar painfully morphing into a butterfly.

We are in a time that requires the agility to respond successfully to the challenges that our planet and its people are facing. The way we work, the way we shop, our mobility, our comprehension of time and space, the way we eat and interact with each other, the way we travel, are all drastically changing. It is no surprise that the way we view fashion and our role within it should also change.

WHo CAREs!? partnered with Lablaco to launch The “Dress Like You Care”, fashion manifesto.

The Dress Like You Care campaign is the first in a series of campaigns created by WHo CAREs!? Chronicles to promote responsible consumption. Together, we hope to contribute positively and seamlessly to the transformation of fashion. With a few guidelines, a call for action and a social media campaign we invite you to play your part in the process and spread the manifesto’s positive message.

Lablaco, and its two founders Lorenzo Albrighi and Eliana Kuo are leading the way towards a more conscious fashion industry. Lablaco is a fashion & technology start-up founded in 2016 in Milan, building the world’s first social-commerce and circular economy platform for fashion. Eliana and Lorenzo’s aim is to create a fashion ecosystem addressing fashion waste issues, while creating a free 'direct-managed' social marketplace empowering both designers and consumers. Lablaco’s multi-dimensional platform (Lablaco Shop & Lablaco Give) further reduces the middle costs and makes shopping easy and more transparent, worldwide. Lablaco chose to partner with DHL Green to ensure sustainable shipping for each transaction.

What can each of us do to help?
  • Dress like you care is an invitation to be more conscious in the way we view and consume fashion.
  • This manifesto is inviting designers, brands, stylists, models, influencers, photographers, the press and of course consumers at large to be a part of the movement.
Turning things around starts with small individual changes, like taking up any of these 10 simple adjustments:
  1. Repair instead of replacing
  2. Read the label
  3. Choose quality over quantity (as Vivienne Westwood puts it « buy less, choose well, make it last”),
  4. Have a say, Join Fashion Revolution and get active through Good on You
  5. Buy vintage, (it’s fun too)
  6. Swap clothes through Lablaco GIVE or with friends
  7. Buy local brands
  8. Choose ethical brands (see below for a few ethical brands we love)
  9. Educate yourself (watch the “True Cost” documentary) and subscribe to “Conscious Chatter” podcasts
  10. Stay informed and inspired, read Conscious Magazine and Lablaco Journal.
Lead by a virtuous circle of ethical leaders - ethical brands and initiatives need to be celebrated.

Starting with Kazbek Bektursunov, the founder of the blockchain Kiev Fashion Week, now one of the leading blockchain events across the world. Bektursunov wants to revolutionize the fashion industry using the transformational influence of blockchain technology.

Companies in many industries are testing blockchain technology, best known as the ledger behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, to improve data-sharing and conduct transparent transactions more quickly. Bektursnov is applying blockchain technology to fashion, this new platform and the tools it provides comes as tech-savvy consumers are seeking more information about the products they consume. Featuring the Forbes 30 under 30, Ukraine based designer, Anna K – the initiative is nothing short of revolutionary. Kazbek and Anna Karenina are looking to disrupt the industry and introduce fashion coins, the first fashion currency…

Nina Farran, the founder of Fashion Kind is a key influencer in the ethical fashion arena. Fashion Kind is the first ethical e-commerce platform. The e-boutique is living proof that ethical clothing and accessories are not just a trend but a viable and growing industry. Nina Farran is also elegantly demonstrating that style is intricately woven into impact. She is transforming the industry by bringing forth the eloquent stories of each garment.

Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre are also shaking things up, with Maison de Mode, the first Premier Online Luxury Ethical Fashion Retailing platform. All items sold online support social and environmental transformation and come with special marks indicating how the products support Maison de Mode’s mission.

Livia Firth is the Founder and Creative Director of Eco Age Ltd. She is also the mastermind behind the Green Carpet Challenge and Green Carpet Awards – “The GCC is a clever initiative that pairs glamour with ethics, serving to raise the profile of a brand on red carpets around the world, putting sustainability in the spotlight underpinned by digital disruption.” Livia is also an Executive Producer of “True Cost” documentary.

Fair Fashion Magazine an ethical fashion magazine providing a (great) sustainable dictionary and how to proceed into the Fair/Ethical/Sustainable/Zero-Waste/Upcycled dimensions…

Rothy’s and Parkland are two ethical brands using recycled plastic bottles. In 2018, Parkland, a Vancouver-based accessories company took a major step to become a more sustainable company. Parkland’s products are now made with 100-per-cent recycled water bottles. The company is actively seeking other ways to become fully sustainable. Since inception, San Francisco based Rothy’s has diverted more than five million plastic water bottles from landfills to turn them into trendy (washable) ballet flats. What’s not to love!

Mara Hoffman is at the heart of the movement, she gradually evolved towards a more ethical strategy, the brand recently unveiled a new partnership with non-profit Nest, to support artisans in India. Nest is a non-profit that facilitates connections between high fashion brands and artisan cooperatives in over 50 countries. Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, the founder of ethical brand Sana Jardin has also partnered with Nest to create her fashionable and exquisite luxury fragrances. Her vision, dedication and passion are by far the most important ingredients and composition of the scents she creates. Her venture is ethical at its core and started with The Orange Blossom Project which was formed to address inconsistent employment and low annual income.

Veja is a French brand of ecological and fair-trade footwear and accessories. Veja Works with cooperatives of small producers and social enterprises in Brazil and France. Available at Barneys, the brand was founded in 2004 by two childhood friends: Sebastien Kopp and François Ghislain Morillion, the line of socially conscious sneakers is inspired by vintage volley ball shoes.

Panoply’s founder, Ingrid Brochard is an entrepreneur turned fashion activist, she is convinced that one of the most sustainable trends in fashion is renting not owning your clothes. With Panoply’s unlimited plan, consumers can enjoy an abundant and infinite wardrobe for items you no longer have to keep.

This list would not be complete without Stella McCartney, a vegetarian, environmentalist and animal activist, her clothing and accessories are mainly made with non-animal fabrics. Stella McCartney has been a leader of ethical fashion for many years and will certainly be an ethical fashion innovator for years to come.

That emotional chord mentioned earlier, has resonance in the far corners of the world. In a globalized and connected world, we realize that our connections are tightly woven. Today’s fashion forces us to look beyond the structure, shape or color of a garment. In an increasingly challenged world, where style and elegance are developing into a way of living rather than the way we look, we need to ask ourselves: what our contributions should be? Through design, consumption or influence, we all have the power to change a sick industry and promote a new way, a more caring way. Your power and your contribution to achieving this should not be underestimated.

Your power and individual contributions are instrumental and essential.It’s time we all start to dress like we care…about our humanity, about our planet and about our future.

WHo CAREs!? Let’s find out…

FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we feature powerful stories about global initiatives, innovation, community development, social impact, and more. You can read more stories like this and connect with a growing community of global leaders when you join. 

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