Eco Fashion Week begins this coming Sunday in Vancouver. According to their website, its mission is:
…to educate the Apparel and Textile industry on how to shift towards more healthy ways to design, manufacture, distribute, market and sell their products. EFW also informs and educates the consumer on how to buy, use and dispose of the clothes & accessories in an ethical manner by incorporating a non-patronizing education aspect into each brand.
The week includes fashion runway shows and seminars, including a “Thrift Chic Challenge” seminar hosted by none other than Value Village, in which 3 designers are given $500 and the challenge to come up with several chic outfits from VV boutique. I’m not totally opposed to that idea, though I am not a fan of VV since it’s retail (that is often confused with charity) and is over-priced as far as thrift goes. At least they’re thinking thrift, which isn’t something I’d have anticipated.
In a Vancouver Sun article about the event (which includes a good little video about shopping thrift, even if it is at VV! is my bias showing here?) one intriguing component leapt out at me.
Swedish retailer H&M – recently famous for committing to paying garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia a living wage – are apparently working on an end to “linear fashion”- where garments end up in a land fill after their owners are done with them. They’ve begun a Garment Collecting Initiative where customers can dump their used clothes at any H&M (no matter what brand they are) and the company will “recycle them into new fibres or new energy.” Check out their promo video.
At first I thought that was kinda cool but as I think on it more, I’m not sure if it really solves a problem or not. Certainly it helps to keep clothing out of landfills like the one above. What it also does, is gives us as consumers an excuse to keep on consuming because now we can feel virtuous about our consumption since it’s being environmentally friendly. I suppose that can also be said about donating your unwanted garments to a charity thrift shop – but there, your donation supports the work of a charity overseas. I don’t know, am I making excuses?
What do you think? Am I being overly critical/hypocritical or is H&M’s initiative a really good one?