We could easily go into the challenges faced by the fashion industry. But most people already have a solid grasp of the urgency for change. Instead, we’re looking at sustainable fashion with a more inspired lens.
Fashion is a powerful form of creativity and self-expression, and with that comes the responsibility to make choices that leave a positive mark.
From renowned designers to eco-conscious activists, we've curated a collection of quotes that reflect the movement towards more environmentally friendly and humane practices.
Be moved by - and maybe have a chuckle at - the words that highlight the importance of mindful consumption, slower fashion, and purpose.
Read them all or skip to a theme that better matches your mood at the moment:
- On the current state of affairs
- On ethics, the environment, and fast fashion
- On the challenges of change
- On conscious consumption
On the current state of affairs
While sustainability is finally - and rightfully - centre stage, the hot topics within this gargantuan umbrella change now and then, depending always on the context of the moment.
These days, there’s growing talk about why “sustainability” as a concept might not be enough. More are owning up to their responsibility as a business, or realising that it's time for actions to match rhetoric. And then, of course, the argument for why CSR needs to last longer than a single project or season.
1. “We’re all fishing for something or trying to come up with a better word for it because the goal is not sustaining where we are. It’s really revolutionising and transforming.”
- The Cut Podcast with Mara Hoffman, Designer and Owner of Mara Hoffman
2. “Don’t be tokenistic. Just because you’re transparent about where your factories are doesn’t mean you are paying your workers a living wage or addressing climate change.”
- SupplyCompass Interview with Gordon Renouf, Co-Founder & CEO of Good On You
3. “When you engage as a supplier, what you need is continuity. There’s a bad habit in this industry to have sustainability CSR projects that run just for one season. Continuity is what matters. Continuity is what changes the life of people.”
- Conscious Style Podcast with Simone Cipriani, Technical Advisor
On ethics, the environment, and fast fashion
It’s all connected. But if we may say so ourselves, fast fashion is probably the biggest devil of the industry. It’s corporate greed feeding society’s desire to have new things all the time - at a low price. And it comes with high environmental and human costs.
Here are some of our favourite quotes on the issue.
5. “What we take, how and what we make, what we waste, is in fact a question of ethics.”
- ‘Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman’ by Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia
6. “We are caught in a vicious cycle of excess, of disrespecting nature, as opposed to a virtuous cycle of living in symbiosis with it.”
- Slow Fashion Movement Interview with Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution and Designer
7. “The speed and price that define fast fashion, and which are so beloved by consumers, directly affect the garment workers of Savar. Where the consumer wants fast, the garment worker must work faster; where the consumer wants cheap, the garment worker must get paid less.”
- ‘We Are What We Wear’ by Lucy Siegle, Journalist
8. “We need to recognise that capital is just money. Money is a means, and people should be accountable for how it's used. We need to celebrate the creative power of human beings. And we need to talk of creative work, we must stop talking about labour.”
- ‘The True Cost’ Documentary featuring Vandana Shiva, Activist
The Rana Plaza Collapse of 2013 is one of the biggest tragedies in fashion history. Source: Flickr
On the challenges of change
Progress doesn’t happen overnight. Shifting mindsets takes time. And where business is involved, it takes lots of cash to bankroll innovative developments. Good intentions and a sense of purpose can only take some so far.
These next three picks are a reminder that change itself is a challenge.
9. “Just do less: Buy less, consume less, produce less. That’s a really hard line to walk when you’re trying to run a business, and you’re measuring your success by how much you sell.
- The New York Times on Eileen Fisher, Founder of Eileen Fisher
10. “The reason we are where we are in the world is because things are easy. And sadly, that's damaging. So anything that's not easy is normally the good thing. It's hard.”
- Harper’s Bazaar Interview with Stella McCartney, Designer
11. “I do realise that, in this industry, to be talking about [a 75%] level of cutting production is like sticking your head in the stocks and asking people to throw things at you. But I’ve always been rather out on a limb.”
- Drapers Feature on Safia Minney, Social Entrepreneur
On conscious consumption
Then there’s the last piece of the puzzle. It’s not only up to businesses and regulators. Brands only sell what people are willing to pay after all. While we wait for the industry to make more strides, the easiest place to start making better decisions is at home.
12. “If you're really wanting to shop better and more affordably, then buy something of quality to keep forever and don't buy too much. No one needs millions of clothes.”
- Harper’s Bazaar Interview with Livia Firth, Activist and Co-Founder of Eco-Age
13. “Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear.”
- ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion’ by Elizabeth L. Cline, Journalist
14. “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
- Brand Slogan by Vivienne Westwood
15. “Realise the political power of your money and spend it with the brands you know are treating their workers and the environment in the best possible way.”
- Harper’s Bazaar Interview with Lily Cole, Activist and Model
Ending on an endorphin-high
Transforming a whole industry for the better is serious business. Sometimes it’s frustrating and overwhelming. So why not laugh a little as we take on daunting challenges together?
16. “The whole thing of clothes is insane. You can spend a dollar on a jacket in a thrift store. And you can spend a thousand dollars on a jacket in a shop. And if you saw those two jackets walking down the street, you probably wouldn't know which was which.”
- Helen Mirren, Actress
17. “Sustainable Development is more than meeting the needs of today and the future generations; to my understanding this definition better fits the sex industry.”
- ‘LOVE, HATRED AND MADNESS’ by M.F. Moonzajer, Author
And there you have them. 18 quote-worthy words from an array of industry professionals.
If you’d like to read more from inspiring movers and shakers within the sustainability sphere, check out our interview with Professor Ed Hawkins on #ShowYourStripes, which inspired us at POMP to design a collection dedicated to his iconic visual.
But if numbers are more your style, you can also take a look at our roundup of must-know sustainable fashion facts.