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Livia Firth’s A to Z Fashion Vocabulary to Help the Industry Change for Good

Livia Firth

Livia Firth, Founder of Eco-Age and Vogue Arabia Sustainability Editor-at-Large. Photo: Supplied

Since Livia Firth’s Eco-Age in partnership with the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, led by chairman Carlo Capasa, and the Italian government founded the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in 2016, every fall, changemakers celebrate individuals and fashion houses who are steering the industry towards a more sustainable future. The gala itself is a celebration of glamour done differently. This year’s broadcast on the theme of togetherness and rebirth, with the launch of the world’s first digital green carpet. The permanent web experience will debut two weeks before the event. Directed by Grammy-nominated Giorgio Testi, it will feature celebrities showcasing their own treasured pieces and thought leaders appearing via holographic telepresence and augmented reality.

It’s an exciting step forward. Last year saw celebrities walk a floral green carpet made from recycled plastic, while fair mined-certified gold statuettes designed by Chopard were awarded to the industry’s leading figures. Ahead of the coming festivities, this is Livia Firth’s A to Z fashion vocabulary inviting everyone to become familiar with the terms helping the fashion industry change for good.

Sustainable textile designer Sindiso Khumalo. Courtesy

Words Matter: With the Green Carpet Fashion Awards around the corner, it’s time to start using fashion’s most progressive language.

A – ANTHROPOCENE For more than 10 000 years humans lived in a supportive geological epoch where the planet’s life-sustaining systems provided a relatively harmonious backdrop, called the Holocene. However, we have caused a geological shift to the Anthropocene.

B – BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION In 1987, the Brundtland Commission created the first definition of sustainability: Sustainable development is one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Arundhati Roy. Photo: Getty

C – COVID-19 Arundhati Roy referred to this pandemic as a “portal” – a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our old ways, or we can walk through lightly, ready to imagine another world, she says.

D – DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION The creation of products and services for which the market does not yet exist or is just emerging. Frequently, these innovations also reimagine a world without wasteand delinked from fossil fuel.

E – EMERGING DESIGNERS The fashion industry is on the cusp of reform. Young, emerging, and independent designers possess the ability to lead this reform, and we need to support them now more than ever.

F – FUTURE-PROOFING Cutting down your demands on the planet and swapping in renewable energy or lower impact approaches to water and land use help to conserve what we’ll need.

G – GENERATIONS Y AND Z Those born between the 80s and 90s (Gen Y) and in the 00s (Gen Z) offer hope. Conversant in sustainability, they prioritize planet Earth’s wellbeing. They have no qualms in shedding outmoded paradigms that are at odds with the world we live in.

H – HANDPRINT From the dressmakers to the factory workers, button makers, finishers and dyers, our supply chain is rich in human spirit and endeavor. By focusing on the handprint, we acknowledge every-body who has a hand in how we dress.

I – IMPACT The future and health of our planet unites us all but everyone has a different reason why sustainability matters, and what captures their attention and motivates them. Recognizing the impact of every action, process, and decision, whether taken by an individual or bigger organization, is the first step towards a brighter future.

Emerging sustainable designer Robert Wun. Courtesy

J – JOY Cast out the drudgery and obligation and use sustainable change to spark joy in your life. From decluttering to finding the joy in growing food sustainably, a global movement continues to unlock the benefits of progressive change. This is the age of the Joy of Eco.

K – KINDNESS The benefits of showing kindness and compassion cannot be overstated. More than one billion people give their time to help charities or local businesses and the figures for volunteering are growing fastest in developing economies.

L – LAUDATO SI “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years,” reads Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si. This is a powerful call for a change in day-to-day actions in order to tackle the climate crisis.

M – MICROPLASTICS More than 8.6 billion tons of plastic has been created since plastic was commercialized. Experts predict that by 2050, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish. We can only combat this with a global community that says no to single use.

N – NO PLAN/ET B We no longer have the luxury of sitting back and doing nothing. We have heard on countless occasions that there is no Plan or Planet B – the time for action is now. We are the last generation who can change the trajectory of our future.

Sustainable designer Robert Wun. Courtesy

O – OPTIMISM “When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this planet and the lives of the poor, and youaren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.” Paul Hawken, environmental writer and editor of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

P – PLATO If you thought recycling materials was a modern concept, Ancient Greek philosopher Plato was already on to it, documenting his sense of loss when he looked at the bare hills above Athens. A landscape denuded has stirred emotions for millennia. But at some point, we began listening.

Q – QUALITY “The difference between style and fashion is quality,” Giorgio Armani once said. A global movement of consumers agrees with him as trend forecasters show a decisive shift towards quality, away from quantity.

R–REGENERATE, REPURPOSE, RESTORE These are the new 3Rs. They determinedly tackle the carnage of the fast fashion system of rapid production and discarding of fabric. They usher in a new philosophy that acknowledges that we have agency as fashion lovers and wearers.

S – SLOW MOVEMENT Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food Movement in 1989 after Italy’s first McDonald’s restaurant opened on Rome’s historic Piazza di Spagna. Since then, thousands of members across the world have given rise to “slow” activism, education, and consumption, all pertaining to a more sustainable way of life.

T – TRENDS Trends, both micro and macro, exert a tyranny on us and our closets and the planet cannot keep up. Sustainability is the trend that has “forever” appeal.

U – UNWRITTEN Joe Strummer, founder of The Clash said, “The future is unwritten,” liberating a generation to write their own narrative. He championed (and made cool) taking responsibility for the environment, influencing countless musicians to support environmental organizations and carbon footprint their albums and tours. The freedom to write a sustainable future is a fitting legacy.

V – VOLUNTEERING This is the age of the volunteer. Proven to be the most effective way of enhancing the lives of others, across the world, citizens are contributing time, effort, and energy to make change happen.

W – WEARS The #30wears campaign gives us an easy-to-remember maxim; a critical rule. You cannot acquire a piece unless you can commit to wearing that piece 30 times, at least. Ethical fashionistas live by this rule.

X – XENIAL The fashion of the present and the future does not build walls or harbor suspicion of strangers. Instead, we are champions of the xenial – positive and friendly relationships that uphold the values and morality of friendship and hospitality.

Y – YOU “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.

Z – ZERO WASTE Our traditional linear approach is based on using products, which quickly become trash, then trying to recover them afterwards via recycling. Zero wasters turn this on its head. Instead, materials flow through society.

Read Next: Green Carpet Fashion Awards 2020 to Feature the First-Ever Digital Green Carpet

Originally published in the September 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

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