The fashion industry isn’t just a frivolous occupation. Despite family, friends and acquaintances asking me with more frequency than I care to admit, it’s not The Devil Wears Prada or Ugly Betty. Yes, people do wear the latest designer bags and our wardrobes can seem excessive. I may have even seen an editor or three have a meltdown, but fashion is so much more than expensive clothes. Fashion is the place where history, culture and art meet. It is representative of people, places and important moments in time. It denotes seismic changes in society and gives a means of expression to people who feel marginalised.
This isn’t hyperbole—fashion has often been a route for women to gain emancipation. In the ’60s, hemlines became progressively shorter. While they had been rising for some time, it collided with an important time for women and the introduction of the birth control pill in 1961. Mary Quant even said it was the beginning of women’s liberation movement.
Punk, grunge, emo and countless other trends that eventually went mainstream all started as counter-cultures helping to represent those who felt they didn’t have a voice. More than ever it is looking inward and wondering how it can help others.
The past 15 years have seen the exponential rise of fast fashion and has cemented the fashion industry as one of the most polluting in the world. But if there is a silver lining to find during the global pandemic, it’s that this has encouraged more brands and organisations to come together and consider how we can all, as a united fashion industry, change things for the better. According to the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company‘s Coronavirus Update to the State of Fashion 2020, “the pandemic will bring values around sustainability into sharp focus, intensifying discussions and further polarising views around materialism, over-consumption and irresponsible business practices.”
Below are nine organisations—some of which are brand-new that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis—which are forging new ways to make it more sustainable, ethical and a way for it to gain new positive momentum.