Since the industrial revolution in the 1800s, global average temperatures have been steadily rising, accelerating over the past 30years. While melting icebergs and water coverage has long been the focal point for climate change fears, it’s the wildfires on America’s West Coast which are most vividly demonstrating the devastating impact of this change. While average temperatures have increased by an average of 1.8 degree fahrenheit, California’s change is closer to 3 degrees. The number of days of extreme wildfire weather has doubled in California since the 1980s, forcing even the most questionable of leaders to acknowledge climate change might, in fact, be a real thing, and not an elaborate hoax.
With the help of a few Netflix documentaries, and the Veganuary movement, the number of vegans in the UK increased by 419,000 (62%) in 2019. Now known to be a much more sustainable diet, the increase in veganism is largely because of people coming round to this idea that making individual lifestyle changes, might not be as hard as they previously thought. In 2015, the UK Government announced a 5p charge for using disposable plastic bags. By 2019, use of the bags had dropped by over 90%.
One industry that’s yet to make a substantial leap forward for the environment, is the fashion industry. The number of sustainable brands has increased, and many high-street brands have introduced conscious fashion collections, however the business model and supply chain in fast-fashion is not set up with the planet’s best interests at heart. Last year, Nike announced their ambition to operate with net-zero carbon emissions by 2025, and Zara set a target to be using 100% sustainable materials by the same year.
How sustainable is the fashion industry?
Glad you asked…
Not very as it turns out. The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. While many brands set targets, they often fail to meet these because the shifts required cost too much and aren’t prioritised highly enough. To be a fully conscious and sustainable industry, fashion needs a lot of fundamental changes in operations.
However, some brands are doing it, but with increased spend on ethical supply chains, they don’t have the same marketing budgets available as fast fashion brands. So, how can we accelerate the growth of those brands ahead of the planet crushers?!
Since the 80s growth of hip-hop and sportswear, the use of musicians to elevate fashion brands has seen a wonderful journey. Fast forward to 2020 and many brands now choose to work with know names as the face the model almost becomes the media as well as the advert. Rapper Drake even filmed his latest music video in the Nike Global Headquarters, demonstrating how close these ties can be now-a-days.
“Music goes hand in hand with fashion … [and] music is one of the most important ways to shape culture, period.” – Steve Aoki
While musicians might not have been as successful as they would hope, at swaying political opinion, when it comes to influencing taste and culture, they can be quite powerful. If the artists joined forces with the right brands, it might help move the needle in the right direction.
Has anyone started?
Trailblazing artist, Pharrell Williams, is one of those leading the charge. Pharrell is the Creative Director of Bionic Yarn, a company that makes textiles out of recycled marine plastic. In 2015 the producer also did a campaign with RAW, focussing on recycled ocean plastics again.
Two women who believe there’s more to be done in this space, are Ella Rose and Kara Michael-Brown, the founders of PETRA. Through their platform they look to connect the dots between these worlds of fashion and music, with the ultimate ambition to grow these sustainable brands.
Says Ella: “Many musicians really care about the environment, and want to use their influence for good. However, it might seem a huge compromise for musicians to suddenly change their lyrical content to sing about fracking or oil pipelines… Partnering with sustainable brands is a simple way for musicians to stay authentic and promote sustainability at the same time.”
Other musicians who have highlighted the importance of sustainability in fashion include SZA and MIA. In 2018, SZA teamed up with Campion, to give us a line of sustainable sweaters. The partnership was followed up with the singer suggesting the launch of her own sustainable label, “Ctrl Fishing Co”. The label is still yet to launch in full, but we can expect the singer has her eyes firmly on the future of fashion.
Back in 2016, MIA teamed up with H&M for world recycle week. They created the video to celebrate sustainable style and try and address the way people view recycling when it comes to clothes. While the brand has a way to go, it was good to see them put this size of budget behind a sustainability initiative.
Hopefully agencies like PETRA will be able to force more of a spotlight on sustainable brands, by connecting them to musicians. Ultimately changing it from being an idea, to the idea.
We’ll be watching.