How young people are shaping the future of sustainable fashion

catwalk 19.jpeg


This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kirsten Salyer, Media Relations Specialist, World Economic Forum

Young people around the world are working to clean up a dirty fashion industry.

The $2 trillion industry is responsible for 10% of the global carbon footprint, negative environmental effects including water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and high levels of textile waste, and poor working conditions for millions of workers, primarily women.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community is taking a grassroots approach to address these issues on local and regional levels while promoting a global dialogue about how to encourage sustainable transformations in the industry.

“Fashion, as an overarching term for the apparel, footwear and textiles sector, is a huge global industry that touches us all (physically!) and employs millions of people,” says Holly Syrett, 32, a Global Shaper in the Amsterdam Hub. “But it is simultaneously a very dirty business that has long hidden how it works.”

Image: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

This year more than 30 Global Shaper hubs worldwide are participating in Shaping Fashion, an initiative that organizes activities and projects during Fashion Revolution Week to raise awareness of the sustainability challenges of the fashion industry and empower local communities to pursue sustainable fashion solutions. The projects include clothing swaps, film screenings and roundtables – each designed to meet the local community’s needs and inspire sustainable fashion efforts year-round, says Syrett, who is a co-founder of the initiative.

For example, the Amsterdam Hub in the Netherlands is bringing together two groups, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Fashion for Good, to discuss the importance of transparency in the fashion industry with members of the local community.

“It’s important that we demand to know more about the brands that we buy from, the products that we buy and the circumstances under which they are made,” Syrett says. “Only with access to this kind of information will we be able to choose more sustainable products that meet our personal values and by doing so, reward the brands that create them.”

The Lusaka Hub in Zambia is organizing a thrift market to promote the consumption of second-hand clothing and a panel discussion to examine what sustainable fashion looks like in Africa. There is opportunity for the African fashion industry to draw from lessons around the world but also form a unique approach to sustainable fashion that honors each local community’s cultural heritage, says Sekayi Fundafunda, 29, a Global Shaper in the Lusaka Hub.

“Slow fashion, its part of our heritage,” she says. “The question today is: How can we build futuristic business that draw inspirations from that history?”

The Davao Hub in the Philippines is hosting a fashion and sustainability fair called Unstitch, which will feature workshops, talks and a pop-up shop filled with sustainable fashion brands. The idea is to create a conversation focused on how fashion affects Davao, says Yana Santiago, 27, a Global Shaper in the hub and co-head of the project.

“When people in Davao hear about the fashion revolution, it’s in the UK, so it’s not relatable,” she says. “We’re identifying and addressing the local problems, such as cultural sustainability. We’re inviting local tribes to tell us their stories and share their struggles.”

In the Dallas Hub in the US, the focus is on upcycling workshops to share the benefits of reusing materials and efforts like the Clean Clothes Campaign to improve working conditions in the garment industry.

“More and more people are getting aware of the issues with fast fashion and are looking into alternatives,” says Faye Francisco, 24, a Global Shaper from the Dallas Hub. “Dallas is a really big shopping hub, and there’s so much potential for the impact to be huge.”

The Joinville Hub in Brazil is partnering with University Uniasselvi to hold presentations on the economical aspects of sustainable and ethical fashion, a screening of the documentary “The True Cost,” and a clothing-swap event. Sustainable fashion is particularly important to Brazil, which is the fourth-largest textile and denim producer in the world and faces many of the negative effects of the fashion industry, including toxic materials entering the water supply and low-paid workers, says Livia Rudolph, 31, a Global Shaper from the Joinville Hub.

“Sustainable fashion should be the only way for our country,” she says. “I would like to see more cooperation across industries for research and development of sustainable practices, upstream and downstream cooperation to implement these practices, and more information and education available to orient consumers.”

The movement to promote sustainable fashion can also start on a personal level, says Simge Sandal, 29, a Global Shaper from the Dusseldorf Hub. Shaping Fashion suggest five steps for people who want to take part in the movement.

5 ways to promote sustainable fashion

  • Step 1: Ask #whomademyclothes – demand more transparency from your favorite brand
  • Step 2: Assess Your Closet – know and treasure what you own
  • Step 3: Wash Smart – wash cool, use eco-detergent, air dry
  • Step 4: Upcycle, Repair and Share – make each piece last
  • Step 5: Shop Less and Buy Well – when you buy, buy second-hand, ethical, organic and only items you love and that will last

What is a Global Shaper?

The Global Shapers Community is a network of young people under the age of 30 who are working together to drive dialogue, action and change to address local, regional and global challenges.

The community spans more than 8,000 young people in 165 countries and territories.

Teams of Shapers form hubs in cities where they self-organize to create projects that address the needs of their community. The focus of the projects are wide-ranging, from responding to disasters and combating poverty, to fighting climate change and building inclusive communities.

Examples of projects include Water for Life, a effort by the Cartagena Hub that provides families with water filters that remove biological toxins from the water supply and combat preventable diseases in the region, and Creativity Lab from the Yerevan Hub, which features activities for children ages 7 to 9 to boost creative thinking.

Each Shaper also commits personally and professionally to take action to preserve our planet.

Join or support a hub near you.

When Sandal recently received a wedding invitation, instead of buying a new dress, she purchased a second-hand dress from a neighbor and took it to a seamstress in her hometown, which allowed her to upcycle, keep a low carbon footprint and support a local business.

“Sustainable fashion is about more than buying new stuff from eco-considerate and socially responsible producers,” she says. “It’s also about organizing and cherishing cloth swaps, proactively lending items to one another, and sharing tips on how to repair loved items. It’s about being proud to wear things second-hand. Because after all, it is beautiful to respect the planet and to value what we already have.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

COVID-19 sparked an economic crisis ‘like no other’ – but these measures can help now: WHO, IMF

Easing US-China trade tensions could save millions of jobs: Asia-Pacific UN report

Halting spread of drug resistance from animals to humans: deal with Council

What are the real debates surrounding immigration in an increasingly globalized world?

The community and a decent working conditions for the young health workforce

Can ECB’s €60 billion a month save Eurozone?

Schengen: MEPs adopt their position on temporary checks at national borders

Africa-Europe Alliance: European Commission committed to a sustainable African agri-food sector

How the finance industry can save the world

Create conditions for ‘harmony between humankind and nature’, UN chief says on sidelines of G20 in Japan

Search Engine neutrality in Europe in danger: Are 160.000 Google filtering requests good enough?

COP24: World sports join team UN in race against climate change

UN-based World Summit Award (WSA) presents its master list on digital innovation with impact on society from 24 countries

Humans account for only 0.01% of life on Earth – but our impact has been immense

Colombia offers nationality rights to Venezuelan children born there: UN hails ‘very important step’

Crimean crisis: not enough to slow down European indices

Reality Shock

Investigate alleged pushbacks of asylum-seekers at the Greek-Turkish border, MEPs demand

Erdogan vies to become Middle East Sultan over Khashoggi’s killing

Businesses succeed internationally

EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

EU fundamental rights under threat in several member states

Measles in Europe: infection rates highest in a decade, says UN health agency

Tsipras doesn’t seem to have learned his “almost Grexit” lesson and Greece faces again financial and political dead end

UN human rights chief warns of women’s rights complacency

The hidden risks nature loss poses for businesses

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

“Cyber security is a shared responsibility: stop, think, connect”, a Sting Exclusive by EU Commissioner Gabriel

Young people all over the world come together to demand paid good quality internships

Closing the trust gap: how responsible data use can accelerate a sustainable society

This is how social media giants are helping stop the spread of measles

This is how much people would pay to use some of the world’s most popular apps

Violence will not deter Somali people in their pursuit of peace, says UN chief, in wake of lethal attacks

‘Virginity testing’: a human rights violation, with no scientific basis – UN

The EU sides with China against the US; but has Germany capitulated to America?

These countries have the best work-life balance

E-commerce is globalization’s shot at equality

European banking stress tests 2014: A more adverse approach for a shorter banking sector

Moscow’s Eurasian Union lost significance after the crisis in Ukraine

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “CO2 is not the problem, it is the symptom”, the pilots who crossed the world using solar energy cry out from Davos

Does the Greek deal strengthen the Eurozone? Markets react cautiously

These six intelligences will drive smart leadership in disrupted times

US now has most coronavirus cases in the world – Today’s coronavirus updates

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

Sovereign wealth funds could increase equality in a post-COVID world

How to tackle the perils of air pollution

One-sixth of the world’s economy has now pledged to cut CO2 to zero by 2050

Fairer food supply chain: Agriculture MEPs clamp down on unfair trading

Eating less beef and more beans would cut deaths by 5-7%

Remembering slave trade offers chance to raise awareness, ‘oppose all forms of modern slavery’ – UNESCO

Political solution ‘long overdue’ to protect the children of eastern Ukraine

The EU heads of State and Government about the result of the European Elections 2019

Why private investment in deforestation-free commodity production needs to be scaled up

Tourism and transport: Commission’s guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism in 2020 and beyond

At COP24, countries agree concrete way forward to bring the Paris climate deal to life

“CETA is a game changer for major trade agreements”. The Sting reports live from EBS 2015

Final preparations for DCX and IFRA Expo 2019, in association with The European Sting

The US-Mexico trade deal a threat for others, Trump to single out China, Europe

More needs to be done to bridge the digital gender divide

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s