“For fashion players, 2019 will be a year of awakening.” This is how The State of Fashion introduced its 2019 report. At this past NYFW, the awakening of wisdom was very much a theme. On the one hand, the Library Study Hall Sustainable Fashion Summit at the United Nations kicked off the season, focusing awareness on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. On February 13, Fashion for Peace, organized by yogi mystic Sadhguru and his Isha Foundation, showcased the work of Norma Kamali, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Mara Hoffman, and Mimi Prober, with their use of organic fibers. HE Inga Rhonda King opened both events: at the UN Study Hall she welcomed the guests into the Economic and Social Council Chamber as its president; at Fashion for Peace she opened the evening and introduced Sadhguru. In attendance were Donna Karan, Fern Mallis, founder of NYFW, and Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International. Sadhguru opened the event with a powerful chant, then shared sobering facts about the industry.
“If we go business as usual, by 2025 it is said that 98% of the fiber on the planet will be synthetic, of which 95% will be polyfiber. When we talk about plastics, everybody is shooting at the lowly plastic bag, which is visible, but the real plastic problem is in the microfiber which comes out of fabric, which has gotten into our soil, which has gotten into our water systems, into our food chain, and is living in our bodies. It has become part of our human system now.”
The Isha Foundation put together the event to raise awareness about natural fibers, quoting Sadhguru from his speech: “American is important because, for whatever reasons America has acquired a leadership in the world. If you wear blue colored trousers, half the world is wearing blue colored trousers. If you tear it up, half the world is tearing it up. So when you have such a leadership, if you go for natural fiber, the whole world will go for natural fiber. That’s why we are here.” During the day’s greenwashing campaigns advocating to ban wool or natural fibers from the Bohoo group or Asos, activists and researchers warned against the dangers of polyester and the release of microfibers into our environment. The Guardian has reported that “on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash.” Microfibers cause health problems in plankton and other small organisms, which eventually end up in the food chain.
The day after the Fashion for Peace event, I was offered the opportunity to interview Sadhguru. While he has more than 2.4 million followers on YouTube, and a combined 500 million views on his platforms combined, Sadhguru was peaceful and laughed easily. The wisdom he shared about bees being endangered and about the motivation we have in creating all, was enlightening and grounding – I will remember and cherish our meeting throughout my journey.
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