Fashion and Climate Change in 2021

 "...For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it...." 

Since we launched Gather&See nearly 7 years ago we have regularly revisited the relationship between fashion and climate change. The environment and the impact that our fashion choices have on it was always one of the key drivers for us wanting to set up Gather&See in the first place - we know that fashion has a huge role to play as a part of the broader climate action narrative.

4 years ago when Trump was elected, we wrote a piece about how heartbroken we felt as it seemed like a huge backwards step and slap in the face for the efforts of anyone trying to work towards a more sustainable future. As he had warned he would, he took the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and continued to downplay the monumental climate crisis that we face. It was capital gain at any cost, even of the detriment of our beautiful planet.

Fast forward 4 years and to last Wednesday with the sun shining down prophetically on President Biden and Vice President Harris as they were sworn into office and we felt a true sense of hope and relief that things might be about to go back into the right direction again. Biden has made clear his intention to fight against climate change and will be re-committing the US to the Paris Climate Agreement. Having one of the worlds biggest, most powerful nations agree to this matters. This is just one of a host of policies designed to address the climate crisis which is now at its most urgent and there is a mountain to climb but after the past 4 years, this commitment gives us a renewed sense of hope and should inspire individuals and corporations to match this effort. The fashion industry must lead the way in these efforts.

The fashion industry's injustices and malpractices have been laid bare once again in the past year with brands exploiting and failing their workers as they've faced challenging times. In just this past week we have been hearing stories of British and European brands threatening to burn stock instead of paying to return it due to unsustainable Brexit regulations - a further symptom of the rot of fast fashion and value we place on clothes, or rather the lengths brands will go to protect the bottom line. We simply must do better, and one positive of the past year has been an increasing shift to consumers thinking more mindfully about their purchases - we have to use this to make it clear to brands that we as consumers now demand better practise. We will hold them to account.

The world is in a precarious state right now. Covid-19 means that the world faces not one but two global crises - both resulting from human activity, both disproportionally affecting the poorest communities. We now have to see an aligned, humane response. If human greed and shortsightedness got us into this mess, then human empathy, bravery and science needs to get us out of it. Each and every one of us needs to do our bit - it is a monumental task but that victory for democracy, truth and decency over the pond last week shows what hard work and belief can do. There is no better way to express this than in the spine-tingling words of Amanda Gorman, who had us all entranced as the world stood still, "for there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it."