Culture of sustainability discussion for Sociocultural Aspects of Dress course at St. Catherine University, MN

For the past two weeks, we have been discussing sustainability in fashion! We have talked about slow fashion, innovations in the sewn product industry, the role of social media as a tool for social change, decision makers, and decision doers, and sustainable design thinking (Hethorn & Ulasewicz, 2015). I agree with Eileen Fisher’s statement  “if you are not socially responsible organization, you are not fashionable” (Talbots Social Responsibility, January 2012). Let us share our thoughts on the above topics and then discuss what sustainability means to you.

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About Anupama Pasricha

Anupama Pasricha
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4 Responses to Culture of sustainability discussion for Sociocultural Aspects of Dress course at St. Catherine University, MN

  1. Throughout the course of my first year at St. Catherine University, I have learned a lot about sustainability as it relates to the fashion industry. This was something that I had never before given any thought to nor was it something I was even all that aware of. I have gained a lot of valuable information about how workers in the garment industry are treated; from diamond miners to the men, women and children working in sweat shops. I have also learned about the environmental impacts of working with certain fabrics and being wasteful with our clothing.

    What I specifically found most impactful that I think I would have the opportunity to change in my own way was the positive effect of textile recycling. In Hawley’s chapter in Sustainable Fashion: What’s Next, it states that textiles are nearly 100% recyclable. The chapter goes on to further discuss the textile recycling industry and what it does. This industry works to take fabrics that are no longer being used and put them to use in various unique ways in order to prolong the use of that material and keep it out of landfills. Later on, it is stated that the United States only recycles or donates around 15% of our textiles every year (Hawley, 2015).

    In an article in the Journal of Economic Geography 8, Tokatli describes in great detail what the mindset and the goals of fashion retailers are. The goal is, essentially, to beat out higher end retailers by pushing out product as quickly as possible (Tokatli, 2008). The issue with this mentality is that, not only does it promote the behavior of consumers to buy larger quantities of lower quality clothing, but it also takes away from the creative work of designers who are unable to produce at the same rate due to valuing quality over speed or quantity.

    I’m unsure what I’ll be doing once I finish school, but I have plans for how I intend to better the industry as far as textile recycling. I plan to not mass produce my pieces so that my customers know who made that item they’re buying as well as be sure they are getting a unique piece that they will want to have for a long time. I will also promote the donations of used garments and jewelry so that materials can be re-used rather than thrown away. I think these are important steps to take toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly industry.

    References

    Hawley, J. (2015). Sustainable Fashion: What’s Next? New York, NY: Fairchild Books

    Tokatli, N. (2008). Global sourcing: insights from the global clothing industry-the case of Zara, a fast fashion retailer. Journal of Economic Geography, 8, 21-23. DOI:10.1093/jeg/lbm035

  2. amjad abdulhafeez says:

    Studying Apparel Design in the United States have Changed my view of fashion world. The Sociocultural Aspects of Dress class covers many important subjects or topics from the book of Sustainable Fashion: What’s next? https://www.amazon.com/Sustainable-Fashion-Conversation-Practices-Possibilities/dp/1628925310 ,
    Such as social media as a tool for social change. In that chapter we discussed how The fashion industry has been greatly impacted in the current years because of the coming of online social media.  Social media has revolutionized the way people not just communicate, but how companies advertise and reach their potential customers. The introduction of social media has increased interest in word of mouth and viral marketing of fashion brands. Social media encourages consumers to interact with various brands which build brand awareness, engagement, and involvement hence increasing the rate of consumption. Also, to attract awareness on positive issues concerning the fashion industry such as sustainability fashion. The purpose of social media is to enable people to express and share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas with other people. These changes in communication and human connection have impacted businesses a great deal because it means that consumers are more informed about products and they know what they want.
    The most important topic in this chapter for me is about the Greenpeace Fashion which Started in 2011. Their goal is “together we can build a toxic-free future where dangerous chemicals are no longer produced, used and released into our environment.” (Greenpeace) Greenpeace published a series of reports on the toxic chemicals used to make clothes and in the clothes themselves. They purchased 141 items of clothing from popular stores in 29 countries and tested them in a laboratory. Greenpeace has called on the public to spread the word and put pressure on companies to limit the use of chemicals by 2020. It is important to stop and fight these chemical used in clothes because these chemicals does not harm only our environment, but it also harms our bodies. So many diseases that have been occurred these days and they do not know why it occurred or the reasons behind it. I think these chemicals that our bodies absorb might be one of the reasons.

  3. Bushra says:

    ​I am studying apparel design since 2011 and I never learned or read something about sustainability. Until I came to St. Kate’s (www.stkate.edu) I was surprised how I did not think before about this subject. In Sociocultural Aspects of Dress class it was very helpful especially Sustainable Fashion: What Next? https://www.amazon.com/Sustainable-Fashion-Conversation-Practices-Possibilities/dp/1628925310 We were discussing the issues encompassing sustainability in the form business keep on evolving. From that book and class discussion I wrote one of my important goals which is starting to be a sustainable designer in Saudi Arabia all that because what I have learned from this class. The most important reason is the environment, in fact I am very interested in public health beside the fashion but I did not think before that they are really related to each other. After reading and discussing the chapter of Social Responsibility and Innovation in the Sewn Products Industry, the most important point is Consumer’s desire for great fashion style and entrepreneurs who consider the society’s welfare and the impact of the firms on the environment. Actually, consumer needs the companies to protect the environment. Also we have discussed the point that about the Want for the administration, business and customers to cooperate to advance the garments and materials industry that guarantees organic frameworks stay differing and gainful over a drawn out stretch of time. The last point we discussed in class is consumer’s measures to conserve the environment such as purchasing products that come from renewable resources and support the reuse or the recycling of products. I am interested in the last point because in my country women do not like to wear used clothes or even wear their clothes many times. So I did some research on that, according to Gauthier:
    Although not new, the global circulation of secondhand clothing from the West to the Third World has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of used clothing, in both volume and value. U.S. exports of used clothing have grown significantly over the last fifteen years. In 2005, the United States exported US$300 million worth of used clothing compared to US$174 million in 1990.(2015)
    Obviously, expanded utilization prompts increased waste. In the UK and US, a solitary shopper produces 30 to 40 kilograms of material waste every year. In the US, 85 percent of materials are discarded without being reused or reused, representing 5.7 percent of the strong waste in landfills. Albeit exact figures for Canadians are not detailed, it’s improbable we’re improving. The normal time shoppers keep an article of clothing is only three and a half years. And still, at the end of the day, it’s just worn every now and again in the main year and after that gradually staged into that stockpile of unworn garments in our overstuffed wardrobes (Weber, 2015).
    In fact I wrote these numbers because I would like to encourage the Arabic consumer how these developed countries have these huge numbers of used and waste clothes. How about our countries that do not have accurate statistics. Hoping that we have the concept of sustainability and work with it to have better life.

    References
    Gauthier, M. (2005). Used Clothing. In M.B. Schevill (Ed.). Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress​​ and Fashion: Latin America and the Caribbean (pp. 72–78). Oxford: Bloomsbury ​Academic. Retrieved May 19 2017, from http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/BEWDF/EDch2011
    Hethorn, J., & Ulasewicz, C. (2015). Sustainable fashion: What’s next? : A conversation about​​ issues, practices and possibilities (Second ed.). New York, NY: Fairchild Books.
    Weber, S. (2015). The afterlife of clothes. Alternatives Journal, 41(3), 26.

  4. Carly Barton says:

    Since I began my studies at St. Catherine University my view of fashion has completely changed. No longer will I view the world of fashion as something superficial. There is a world of fashion deeper and more meaningful than the lastest designers and trends. The world of fashion impacts people,cultures, economies, and most importantly the environment. In the chapters of the book “Sustainable Fashion, Whats Next?” It discusses slow fashion, technology innovations in the fashion industry, social media as a tool for change and sustainable change makers and doers. (Herthorn & Ulasweicz, 2015).

    I believe consumers are making a shift towards realizing that slow fashion is more beneficial for their pockets, looks, and environment. Investing in pieces that will last will be much more beneficial in the long run. Maybe consumers observe the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry but do not do anything to change their ways. (Joy, 2012).
    This is where I believe the impact and use of social media comes into play in the sustainable fashion movement. With celebrities bringing forth the importance of sustainability with movements such as the green carpet movement but Olivia Firth. Luxury designers need to make sustainability an issue for fashion that trickes down and becomes a staple of the modern wardrobe.

    New developments in nanotechnology will also make a big difference for sustainable fashion. For my internship the clothing company I worked with used fabric technology such as bamboo to make their products as sustainable as possible. This helps the environment and the consumer. I will seek out companies who value sustainability because without it we will use up all our natural resources. I will seek out a career with a sustainable business because of the topics I have learned in this class. Fashion sustainable companies continue to be on the rise through education from classes like Sociocultural Aspects of Dress.

    Hethorn, J., & Ulasewicz, C. (2015). Sustainable fashion: What’s next? : A conversation about issues, practices and possibilities (Second ed.). New York, NY: Fairchild Books.

    Joy, A., Sherry, J. F., Venkatesh, A., Wang, J., & Chan, R. (2012). Fast fashion, sustainability, and the ethical appeal of luxury brands. Fashion Theory, 16(3), 273-296. doi:10.2752/175174112X13340749707123

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