For the first time in many years, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day offers very real potential for hope and positive change. In response to the times we're living in, our creative community has shifted their focus to working towards a better future for ourselves and our planet. There has been a global outpouring of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to create a new plan of action for the world we live in - and we think that's something worth celebrating.
At Deborah Lyons we have committed to reducing the impact of our collections through material and dye selection, such as organic cotton, FSC sustainable viscose, hemp and more, whilst continuing to focus on ensuring the best practice across our business and in our supply chains. As a young fashion brand sustainability to us is simply a prerequisite for being in business.
For many however, the last few years have brought about a seismic shift in operations and slow or little positive change. With stores currently closed, and most of us stuck at home in loungewear, this Earth Day we wanted to take some time to reflect on the few positive outcomes of the last few weeks in lockdown and discover some ways to ensure a better future.
With this in mind we spoke to entrepreneur and activist Hannah Rasekh to get her thoughts on a rapidly changing world and what we can takeaway from all this.
Our interview with entrepreneur & activist Hannah Rasekh
Hannah Wears Deborah Lyons Audley Dress
Consumers want to feel there is a positive story to what they are buying and a number of brands have been commendable in their responses, from production of hand sanitisers, to face masks, and scrubs. How do you think we can keep the narrative positive as the curve flattens and life starts to return to normal? Should fashion brands be giving back more of the time?
The brands that are standing out right now are the good guys and they’re the ones that will be remembered when all of this is over. We all want to make purchases with a purpose, so if a brand can champion that, then we as consumers can support their mission. We want to do more than just stay at home- a simple yet crucial task. During this pandemic, brands can provide the outlet necessary for us to do more. I don’t think that anything will go back to “normal,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Any semblance of “normal” was yanked from under us. Now is a time for change. The world narrative has shifted and with it company narratives as well. I am hopeful we will all come out of this kinder, brands included. We’ve woken up!
“We are beginning to see the value in things; we have a greater appreciation for the clothes already hanging in our wardrobes; how they’re made and who makes them. I hope we continue to appreciate these things.”
As the man made world has all but ground to a halt we are finding ourselves more in touch than ever with the natural world and while we stay home the world at large is flourishing. How can we use this experience to rethink our needs and wants and consider long term ways we can give back to rather than take away from our environments?
I believe if we don’t come out of this completely changed people, it would be a real shame. We’re realising we don’t need as much as we normally do and we’re all supporting small local businesses in our communities- which is so beautiful to see. This slowdown is healing our planet and we’re all consuming more mindfully. We are beginning to see the value in things; we have a greater appreciation for the clothes already hanging in our wardrobes; how they’re made and who makes them. I hope we continue to appreciate these things.
Do you think the current climate will make it harder for brands to honour their ethical and sustainable commitments, or do you think now is the time to be fully evaluating production processes?
There’s no denying there will be some difficulty bouncing back. Making changes to materials, logistics and supply chain processes to improve the sustainability of products and operations will definitely slow down. But here is where small businesses will be instrumental in the conversation.
Sustainability, as you mentioned, is a prerequisite for small businesses like Deborah Lyons. They normally work with local suppliers and manufacturers, they hire employees in the local community, and they utilise small-scale production.
The approach to consumerism is changing and this could lead to a wider gradual change across communities. Also, what this crisis has ultimately done is slow down production. Brands as well as consumers have been forced to slow down. Fashion has needed to slow down a long time now.
What do you believe are some of the biggest challenges in establishing a fully sustainable fashion industry?
There are so many challenges ahead of us. They all stem from our perceptions towards fashion. We’re brainwashed into believing we need to continuously buy more. Fast fashion is the culprit, encouraging over-consumption and consequently generating an incredible amount of waste sitting in landfills across the world.
We need to rethink our business models and our supply chains. The entire industry needs a revamp. I can feel it gradually changing. In the luxury fashion market, fashion weeks need to be reconsidered. This can be a really interesting and creative time for fashion and I’m looking forward to seeing how brands are going to cut costs post Covid-19. I hope consumers think twice before rushing back to a rapid lifestyle. If we buy less, fast fashion corporations will produce less. Basic economics.
Hannah Wears Deborah Lyons Pink Willow Blazer
If you could speak directly to the most culpable corporations who are not only affecting the environment but the lives of millions of garment workers, how would you urge them to change?
I’d ask them why they’re producing 24 collections a year. I’d ask them about the human cost of their supply chains. I’d ask what legacies they want to leave behind. I’d plead with them to produce less and pay garment workers more. But essentially, I think the power is with us as consumers. I believe completely in the power of the consumer.
The majority of garment workers are women and it really is a feminist issue. What facts would you share with young women to make them fully aware of the gravitas of the situation?
You need to start questioning humanity when a dress lands on a website retailing at the full price of £15. This dress has more than likely been produced in a low-income Asian country, by a woman working under appalling conditions and for pitiful wages- some as low as £25 a month.
Before you purchase a £15 dress and support this industry, think about the women behind your clothes. Think about their families. They don’t earn enough for food, rent, or even the clothes they make. Don't be afraid to ask brands and companies who makes their collections. We need to stick together, and knowledge is power.
What do you wish we were all doing more of in the fashion sustainability space - as individuals too - and what steps can we take to get closer to these goals? Can you give us 3 things we can do or change each day to help give back to our world?
Ask yourself three questions.
1.Do I need this?
2. Would I have worn this years ago?
3, Will I wear this years from now?
Happy Earth Day ❤️