Most people know the name of the shops where they bought their clothing. But that's where the knowledge ends. We often have no idea how, where or by whom our fashion was created, and we don't consider where our clothing ends up when our bodies or our aesthetic sensibilities have outgrown it.
With New Zealand Fashion Week in central Auckland 24-30 August, two organisations announced their intentions to change our fashion ignorance. Space Between and Sustainable Fashion began a collaboration to give consumers reliable information on supply chains during and after the event.
The collaboration wants to "raise the value of fashion, to support and encourage the industry to tell their stories more broadly, to encourage a positive dialogue around sustainability and fashion," said Jennifer Whitty of Space Between.
Both groups aim to make fashion friendlier to the environment and to the people involved in creating and wearing it by holding brands accountable for their methods and practices.
Coinciding with the start of Fashion Week, the collaboration launched a social media campaign to encourage transparency around companies' methods and chains of production. The collaboration challenged companies to post a photo of their studio space, information on their supply chain, and a sustainable process or element of their work with the hashtag #SNZFW (Sustainable New Zealand Fashion Week).
The collaboration hopes to get brands and their customers engaged in a discussion about ethical fashion and to encourage other companies to get on board and reconsider their methods of production. The two groups are no strangers to pioneering methods to encourage better methods of creating fashion.
Space Between was developed by Massey University's School of Design to address problems with mass-produced clothing creating high volumes of waste. Over 90 million items of clothing end up in landfill each year, and much of this comes from "fast fashion", a recently coined term used to describe cheap, easily discarded garments that can be found in chain store aisles for less than a take away meal.
Space Between upcycles corporate uniform clothing, another high-waste clothing sector, from businesses such as the New Zealand Post to create new and ethical garments that it sells online. The company hopes to encourage the fashion industry to reframe its standards to promote a slowly and carefully crafted, ethical, authentic and waste free production of clothing.
Joining Space Between is the Sustainable Fashion project, a newly imagined initiative aimed at educating players in all sectors of fashion including students, designers, buyers and fashion media about sustainable and ethical fashion. The project will feature a pop-up shop and exhibition selling upcycled, vintage, pre-owned and ethical brands of clothing. It will begin touring New Zealand in 2016 and hopes to engage Kiwis in a conversation about fashion ethics and provide brands with comprehensive information about how to be sustainable, fairtrade and traceable.
"We want to raise awareness of the Fashion Revolution Movement and assist in asking the right questions about fashion and the design process," said Sustainable Fashion project lead catalyst Bec McMaster.