The fashion industry has a lot of potential for change, but currently faces a lot of problems. Almost 65 per cent of global fabric consumption consists of synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels, which are not biodegradable and add to the already mounting problem of microplastics in our oceans. Much of the remainder is made up of cotton, which uses large amounts of water in already arid regions of the world, and in addition requires a lot of toxic pesticides.
Despite these challenges, sustainable fashion is not a distant dream: solutions exist!
Materials with lower environmental impact are out there, in the forest. Fashion brands are increasingly designing with textiles made from forest fibres, which are biodegradable, and renewable. Forest certification in this process is key to ensure sustainability: knowing that the fibres come from a forest that is certified for being sustainably managed gives confidence to producers and consumers that these forests will be around for generations.
To showcase the innovative potential of sustainably produced forest fibres, our Forests for Fashion Initiative participated in the largest global meeting on the environment: The Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly. From 10-15 March 2019, an exhibit of stunning and innovative clothes made by young designers using forest-derived materials were on display at the Sustainable Innovation Expo in Nairobi, Kenia, where more than 40 organizations and companies showcased innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
Camille Jaillant is one of the latest designers to produce a ‘Forest for Fashion’ piece, relying entirely on localized production in Portugal and using PEFC-certified fabric. “As a designer, you are inevitably inspired by nature. Protecting our source of creativity and of life is essential, and everyone’s responsibility. It is a challenge to create fashionable evening dresses that are at the same time sustainable – some designers would argue it limits your options. But Forests for Fashion shows that sustainability and fashion go hand in hand.”
Check out the photos!
The Forests for Fashion initiative resulted from a fruitful collaboration between the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T. It is in tune with the recently adopted Vancouver Invitation on Forest Products for a Better Future, which recognizes the value of sustainably produced wood and wood-based products as environmentally friendly materials. Award-winning actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh has also been a strong supporter of Forests for Fashion, starring in the sustainable fashion video “Made in Forests”.
UNECE is part of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, which was launched at the UN Environment Assembly. It aims at strengthening cooperation among United Nations agencies and programmes on the social, environmental and economic dimensions of the fashion industry. Together with the Forests for Fashion initiative, UNECE is developing standards to improve traceability and transparency of sustainable value chains in the garment sector.
Find out more about the Alliance: www.unfashionalliance.org
More information about the Forests for Fashion Initiative: http://www.unece.org/forests/forest4fashion
Photo of Forests for Fashion at UNEA-4: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1HuJj1F6UB8KkS7U9