The CRA are so happy to be sponsoring Sustainable Fashion Week 2022 and we want to shout about it from the rooftops. To kick off – here’s a few questions we put to one of SFW’s key players, Amber Rochette.
What is your role at Sustainable Fashion Week (SFW)?
I started off as the partnerships & ambassador lead just over a year ago, I then became project coordinator and very recently (about a week ago) have been made a director! It is a tiny team so I do bits of everything, from social media, to finding partners, to rummaging through clothing recycling bins! It is really varied but I love getting involved with every aspect of SFW.
The CRA are affiliates of Textiles 2030. What three key outcomes would you like to see come out of Textiles 2030?
I hope that signatories are able to
- cut carbon by at least 50%
- reduce water usage by 30%
- and that we can see clear changes in policy to compel the fashion industry into becoming net-zero in line with the global 1.5 degree target.
Do you see an end to fast fashion? Do you think the public will vote with their feet first, or that legislation will eventually take effect?
Hmm, difficult question! Personally, I don’t think the public voting with their feet will be enough. The buck should stop with companies themselves, and it shouldn’t be our responsibility to change the industry for the better. More often than not big fashion giants will push for the biggest profits, and there will always be ways in which they can tap into our consumption habits. The world is now literally at our finger tips and companies are really tapping into this, social media is full of big fashion hauls and encourages such wasteful behaviour. But until legislation tightens up, I can’t see there being an end to this through changes in consumer behaviour alone.
Can you see a change in attitudes and behavior towards fashion purchases happening through your community approach?
Yes, definitely! We recently teamed up with students from the University of the West of England who conducted some behaviour change research for us. The results were overwhelming and 67% of respondents said that they definitely want to change their consumption habits. It was also found that most of the respondents wanted to know how to mend their clothing and care for their clothes to make them last longer, as well as learning how to mend and up-cycle unwanted clothing. Our impact report from last year was really positive too, and we had lots of great feedback from the 62 community events that were held. I think that our community-based approach is really working, and its important that we continue to keep things accessible and make sustainable fashion feel relevant to everyone regardless of income or background.
Has covid-19 been a setback for SFW’s goals? Have there been any positives coming out the other side?
Definitely, SFW was meant to go ahead in April 2020! I wasn’t with SFW back then but after joining the team in December 2020 I could see the benefit of having a much longer lead-in time for SFW 2021. We were able to make connections with some fantastic organisations, and find 30 SFW ambassadors who helped to spread our core messaging and reach as wide an audience as possible. Also, I think that the pandemic shocked a lot of people into re-thinking where things come from, a lot came to light about big brands not paying their workers for cancelled stock and I think this has helped shift peoples perceptions on fast-fashion and re-think their choices.
What suggestions do you have for items charity shops find to be unsaleable?
I think in the long-term the government should take some responsibility here and make radical improvements to waste fabric capture systems, which would help support the massive influx of clothes to charity shops and recycling. In the short-term (…this September as part of SFW 2022?!!) it would be great to see charity shops run repair cafes or other kinds of skills workshops or swap shops to show their customers that things can be mended, and kept, and ultimately reduce the amount of damaged items that come in unsaleable.
Over and above raising money for their causes, what do you think is the main role charity shops have to play in the future of fashion retail?
I think charity shops play a huge part in the community, and keep high streets alive. In terms of the fashion industry itself, I think there is a massive opportunity to use charity shops as a means of changing the way we shop entirely. Charity shopping has already become massively trendy in the past decade, and this has been amazing to see, but it would be great to see this change in consumer behaviour shift even more. With raising money for the specific causes being the main focus, it would be great to move away from just being a ’shop’ and see some places come to life with different kinds of creative workshops around fashion – giving consumers the whole experience of shopping and up-skilling whilst raising money for good causes too.
What do you see as the main challenges the fashion industry has to overcome to meet the net-zero target by 2030?
I think the main challenges lie within the law. Until the government tighten up legislation around environmental reporting standards, and actually introduce hefty sanctions for failing to comply to certain emission & waste standards there is no hope to meet the net-zero target by 2030. As sad as that may sound, I am constantly inspired by so many amazing people who have connected with SFW that want to make real positive, long-term changes to their fashion habits. If change can’t come from the top, we still have the power to do as much as we can on the ground to see some changes happen. Can I also add here that I’m really excited that CRA and SFW have connected, and that you are on board with helping us empower & up-skill the community to make positive changes to the fashion industry as we know it.
Sustainable Fashion Week is running 16-25 September 2022. You can learn more about the CRA’s involvement here and events ideas here.