Introduction to the Series: Sustainable Fashion in the Global South
words by Vedika Hinduja
September 18, 2020
Fashion is borderless. It affects 60 million garment workers around the world, 161 million people working through the industry supply chain and 7.8 billion global consumers.
Now more than ever, as levels of consumption continue to increase around the globe, we are witnessing the adverse impact on people, animals and the natural environment.
We are challenged to ignite behavioural change in our communities, encouraging consumers to buy less and more mindfully, while reducing waste and keeping materials in circulation for longer. This not only requires advocacy and commitment but also creativity and innovation to disrupt the fast fashion industry in a meaningful way. We all have an idea of the concept of sustainable fashion as a solution, but are we really able to define it?
Through the ‘Sustainable Fashion in the Global South’ series we will delve into different perspectives and journeys of change makers throughout the globe, with a focus on the Global South. The purpose is to shed light upon both the unique challenges of the industry, but also the deep rooted cultural and historical practices that align with sustainable values. What does sustainability mean to local communities in these regions and how is it implemented in the fashion industry?
We will be interviewing founders and pioneers in the Sustainable Fashion space to discuss their journeys and creative initiatives that aim to tackle some key issues such as: excessive consumption and waste, unjust treatment of garment workers, loss of cultural techniques or artisanal fashion. Their solutions include innovative creative processes, alternate material sourcing, upcycling and recycling to mention a few.
The Global South is often mistakenly excluded from the discourse of over consumption and fast fashion, when in fact, many Global South regions are the textile and fashion hubs for sourcing, manufacturing and production of clothing, footwear and accessories. Moreover, due to cheaper labour costs, these areas are most adversely affected by unfair working conditions and environmental degradation.
Many assume that Global North countries are not only the pioneers in sustainable fashion, but also the main markets for more eco-conscious apparel where sustainable garments often are labelled with premium pricing. However, artisanal crafts, upcycling, pre-loved items and recycling have been at the heart of the culture of some Global South countries, even before climate awareness and mainstream sustainability discourse came to be in the West.
A majority of our favourite brands and items can be traced back to Global South countries through the sourcing of materials, manufacturing or production of apparel and other textile products. Through this interview series, we will obtain first hand experiences of people working in or around the fashion industry in Global South regions to learn of their creative journeys.
We are excited to share with you these global perspectives, initiatives and opinions; stay tuned as we release an exclusive interview every week.