Designer Panel: Sharleen Ernster (US), Heidi Klein (UK), David Abraham (India) with Moderator Mihirini De Zoysa
- Important international designers discuss disposal strategy in design
The theme for the second Responsible Fashion Summit held was ‘Earth Sensitive’, with nearly every stakeholder of the fashion supply chain sharing knowledge of direction. It commenced with three key international designers, David Abraham, Sharleen Ernster and Heidi Gosman, who shared important perspectives, including disposal of the garments being considered, as part of the design thought process, which is something that has not been strongly followed by designers, resulting in landfill issues.
Sharleen Ernster on the vision behind ‘We-are-HAH’: One of the purposes behind this brand was to slow down the fashion cycle and create a product with purpose and to utilise product processes that were sustainable, in order to leave a better planet and legacy for the next generation. I have had the great privilege of working for some of the biggest brands in the world and that introduced me to some of the most incredible manufacturers in the world. One of the most beautiful things about working for the larger corporations is that it exposes you to the latest technology and advancements. Sri Lanka has always been on the forefront of green technology. With the introduction to technology particularly from this region, I was able to start a business founded on three pillars – sustainability, good to the consumer and transparency.”
Heidi Gosman of Heidi Klein Swim spoke on how her team approaches a design: “As a team we always start with the design. We consider the impact on the environment at each stage of manufacture and then work backwards in coming up with the design. In the UK we do not recycle clothes as much as we should be, and it adds to the landfills, but this is something me and my team are looking at.”
David Abraham shared his insight into values he holds close and how to achieve the right balance between design, sustainability and disposability; three things that don’t support each other. “The world is divided into consumers and producers; largely we consider the producers in the East and the consumers in the West. So we are paying the price for the consumption in the west and as designers we cannot influence the trends as the trends are produced by the consumers. It will be a slow change and in a few years the situation will change as the East is on the rise. Hopefully we will learn from this and learn from the mistakes we have made and hopefully we will learn that this is something we need to be aware of.”
Responsible Fashion Summit is part of The Responsible Fashion Movement that focuses on responsibility, accountability and transparency. It has defined eight impact areas as the basis of solutions to issues that the global fashion industry faces. The Responsible Fashion Movement has modelled itself on the most relevant aspect of solutions and longevity. Fashion currently ranks among the top three most polluting industries in the world is drawing attention and yet the action to reduce negative impact is still slow in gaining momentum.
The sustainable fashion products continue to grow at a steady pace. It is led by an ever increasing population of aware and discerning consumers in US, Europe and parts of Asia which is beginning to put pressure on global fashion brands to open their doors to clean fashion. The manufacturers who will move in this direction earlier will have an advantage. There also exists a wide gap between the action of designers and manufacturers; hence so far every action is resting with the manufacturers. The designers are in a position to lead the corrective action.
The Responsible Fashion Movement is endorsed by The Commonwealth Fashion Council (CFC), London. Daniel Hatton, Director and CEO of the CFC is in Colombo to speak at the forum. Responsible Fashion Summit is presented by MAS Holdings, hosted at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, in association with Hirdaramani Group, Beira Group, BMW i3 and The Design Development Corporation.
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