The organisition from 100% schoon invited some guest speakers who work in various branches of the fashion industry. All the guest speakers are from Belgium or The Netherlands so my international readers won't know them. Nonetheless I think it's very interesting to read their view on eco fashion and how we all can change our mindset.
Before I went into this event, I thought the speakers would mainly talk about the fabrics and how they affect our environment but I was totally wrong. Each aspect in which you can have ecological fashion was spoken about.
The evening opened up with a bang, showing pictures from the devastating fire in a clothing company in Bangladesh last year and the rabbits which are used for their angora wool. I, and I think most other people as well, felt immediate responsibility for these injustices. As a fashion blogger, I life in a world of fast fashion in which trends come quick and go out of style even quicker. We all love the big chain stores who offer the latest trends for a very low price without ever thinking who/what has to suffer for this.
The first speaker, Jaklien Broekx, spoke mostly about which impact fast fashion has on human beings. Most of our clothes are made in India, Bangladesh, China and Cambodja. The wages are extremely low there, the average employee earns € 40 (!) per month. For these € 40 they have to work 16 hours per day, 6 days a week. To have a manageable lifestyle, the wage would have to be a least twice as much. People, who dare to speak their mind, have even been killed by the government,...
Wages are not the only problem. Another huge point of concern are the conditions in which these people have to work. Factories which are on the verge of collapsing, .. are not an exception.
The problem of the wages could easily be solved by raising the prices of the clothes. I hear all of you thinking: "Life is already expensive enough". But you would barely feel the price rase. Per t-shirt of € 29,00 a Bengalese employee earns € 0,18, which is only 0,5% of the total price. A duplication of the wages would only cost us a couple of eurocents extra.
The second duo of speakers was Jani Kazaltzis (stylist and guest designer for JBC) and Ann Claes (CEO from JBC). I think Jani said what most of us thought; "How do we know if the clothes we are buying are really eco fashion?" and "Where can we buy it?".
Jani suggested that conscious clothes should have a special tag so costumers would know whether they have bought something ecological or not. The fashion industry should have the task to hype these kinds of clothes and as a result of that the costumer might want to buy these clothes.
Ann Claes from JBC told us how her clothing company is very conscious about fair fashion and what they do as a company to realise this. Firstly their suppliers have to sign a "code of conduct" and are checked on this regularly. This code of conduct exists of international rules for better working conditions.
JBC also tries to maintain a long-lasting relationship with their suppliers, this way they have a better view how these companies work.
But JBC doesn't only look at the bad effects on human beings but also on the environment. They have long list of chemical products which aren't allowed to be used during the fabrication process.
Then two designers got to tell how they integrate eco-fashion in their brand. First up was Rachida Aziz from Azira. This is a very young brand with a real identity. Rachida knew from the day she started her own brand that it had to be ecological so the search for a supplier started. This turned out to be a very hard search. Eventually she came across this atelier in her country from origin; Marocco. This atelier employs single mothers, which is still a taboo in Marocco. These women get a very fair wage and avoided being obliged to prostitution in order to provide for their children.
A supplier is one thing, finding a store location is another. Rachida Aziz wanted to be located in the Dansaert region in Brussels, which is a fashion headquarter with lots of designer stores. This place is more than a store which just sells clothes. The brand wants to attract a wide diversity of people and put a stop to the normal beauty standards. Another way in which the designer tries to minimalize to waste products is by crowd funding. This means people get the chance to preorder pieces from the collection and have to pay immediately. Only the ordered pieces go in production so nothing has to be thrown away.
Check out this very interesting video to find out more about Azira.
Katrien Van Hecke was the second designer. She's a Belgian designer who has an ecological fashion brand and even visits Paris and London fashion week with her collections. I honestly didn't know her, shame on me. Katrien uses eco-friendly fabrics such as organza and colors them with natural products such as salt or curry. Her atelier is very small and tries to recycle as much as people. The designer reuses for example old newspapers. Like she said herself: "Most people think eco fashion looks like yoga outfits." but her collection proves otherwise. The designs were breath taking and definitely high end fashion worthy. Because she makes everything in Belgium and uses expensive fabrics the clothes have a high price tag as well. The yellow dress comes at € 400,00 and the coat at € 1.000,00. Unfortunately I and lots of others don't have that kind of budget to spend on one piece. Nonetheless I think designers such as Katrien Van Hecke can be groundbreaking for the next generation.
The last speaker was Wilma Mulder from Awearness Fashion. This is an organisation in Arnhem (the Netherlands) which promotes eco fashion in every possible way. They do this by organising events such as a fashion shows but also on a smaller scale by going to stores and asking the employees whether they know where the clothes they sell, come from. Awearness Fashion believes in storytelling to the consumer in every possible way. They are also very active on social media so check them definitely out.
So now I'm curious... Do you try to find eco brands to wear? Is this important to you?
Here are some pictures from the event, unfortunately they're very blurry!
All the models on stage right before the event began.
The two models on the far left side ae wearing designs from Katrien Van Hecke.
bag: Michael Kors