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Will 2020 be marked as the year that the entire fashion industry stopped turning a blind eye to ethical and sustainable fashion?
I truly hope so! And with The Cosmospolite, my platform for sustainable fashion, I care to actively contribute to this cause. The days I had to explain myself about this subject are long gone. Thank gold! But, where do we stand?!
In my January newsletter I looked back at the highs and lows during the first year of The Cosmospolite. And there are many. I summarized it in 10 article links, a shortlist of 5 of my most loved, affordable and sustainable brands and end with a personal note. Kicking off with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that the (sustainable) fashion industry had to offer this year. The Good 2020 was a year of ethical and sustainable niche brands taking flight. Brand names like Bode, Bethanny Williams, Collina Strada (photo right) and Maison Cleo (photo left) became buzzwords and were able to scale up (even further) without losing the charm of being 'small'. Simply by letting their clothes and way of business do the storytelling. With Maison Cleo at the forefront. The brand takes being transparent to new heights by e.g. openly sharing that working with Net-A-Porter might be a dream coming true, yet the margins on their exclusive line are close to nothing. High five to talking out loud on the struggle of building a sustainable business. If we want sustainable fashion to become norm instead of niche, this is as equally important as producing sustainable clothes. Brands like these set the example for all aspiring fashion designers and brands.
Image courtesy to Maison Cleo
The Bad Growth is good up to a certain point of course. Monsterly big brands like H&M, Tommy Hilfiger and Zalando would make a lot more impact if they would downsize. But downsizing is not an option when making profit is your main goal. Instead these brands come with smart incentives that allows them to claim 'being sustainable'. Like reselling your own clothes. Good to change the perception of the mass regarding this subject. Commercially smart, yes. But truly sustainable, from the bottom of their heart, no. Reselling your own clothes in exchange for a shopping voucher of your own brand is still no solution for the pressing problem of overproducing clothes. It's just smart (but also sneaky) marketing. The Ugly This one is about the overly used S-word. Sustainability is linked to greenwashing and loosing gravitas with brands that are actually fighting climate change or social injustice reports BOF. "It should be incorporated in your entire way of doing business, while the clothes itself should be about creative expression'". But with brands claiming 'to make great design available to everyone in a sustainable way' (that's you H&M), but refusing to pay their garment workers for work that has already been done, the word is losing its meaning. Guilty of overly using the word btw (17 times in this newsletter alone), I will use the new year to rethink my phrasing. Read more about my view on the word here. Summing up the year: Sustainable fashion is entering mainstream. Conscious and transparent brands are on the rise. As is greenwashing. This requires a hell of a bullshit filter. Here is how to prevent falling into the trap of greenwashing? Fan of the links in this newsletter? Here are 5 of my most loved articles of 2020 to kick start the new year.
Two podcasts of trendwatcher Li Edelkoort, one recorded before and one during the first lockdown. Highlighting the reset of fashion, true passion for creating clothes, a desire to dress up and togetherness.
Short read 'why sustainable fashion is a feminist thing', a subject slightly pushed to the back this year, but with 80% of the garment worker being woman still as relevant.
The Root, a podcast on decolonizing fashion to uncover your white privileged blind spots (In case you are a white privileged girl like me)
Are you a more Ethical Consumer or Consumer Activist? Author and #PayUp campaigner Elizabeth Cline lays out exactly why she stopped calling herself an Ethical Consumer and started fighting against inequality and injustice instead.
Image courtesy to Rachel Arthur
Bringing it back to my mission 'to make it easy and fun to shop sustainable and ethical fashion' I made a top 5 of most loved and worn brands of 2020. All of which fairly priced (as long as you don't compare it to the prices to those at Zara or H&M):
Carcel [ethically made in prison] never not wearing this merino wool rib tights. Update: Sadly the brand recently stopped their activities.
Signe [ethically produced organic basics with a twist] their fabrics and designs are even prettier IRL.
Miista [artsy and fashion forward ethical footwear]
Teym [timeless, ethically produced basics from my hometown Amsterdam] their heavy weight merino wool sweater feels like soft, soothing armor.
Katharine Hamnett [organic cotton activist t-shirts] not to be confused with the high-end line of this responsible fashion pioneer.
And while we are getting personal, I also want to share with you my end of the year big thank you! The Cosmospolite is my personal project I set up this year; a year in which I worked way less than normal (with daycare being in lockdown too). Had the idea for a sustainable shopping platform/ newsletter somewhere in the back of my head for years, and somewhere between cleaning diapers and my ongoing freelance brand strategy projects it became reality. I owe my lover a big thank you for mental support and his design skills. Today, looking back... I am so glad I did this. Because how I missed fashion.... Proud for this newsletter being sent out to 750 subscribers. Enthusiastic reactions from you, stylists, brands, family and friends are really getting me excited for the new year. A big thank you for you too! The Cosmospolite can head into so many directions, so I am excited to leave it open and see where it goes. Happy to use the platform for my never-ending stream of ideas and lust to work together with others with a similar vision (that sustainable fashion is norm instead of niche). Still taking the monthly newsletter as a starting point (for your sustainable shopping spree). Let's see where the new year goes. And for 2020 - with all that has happend - let's hope it will be marked as the year fashion turned 180 degrees around.
Stay Cosmic! Love, Leonie