Clothes Make the Man and Woman – Everyday Sustainable Fashion for Everyone
On the 28th of May, Allure Sauvage co-organized, together with several Master students of the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative, the first Open Geneva Fashion Show for Sustainability at the Campus Biotech in Geneva. The aim of the event – to show that fair green clothes can be cool.
By Rebecca Jiménez, 12.06.2019
Two hours before the fashion show, the mood is much more relaxed than one would expect. Hairdos are getting done, snacks are being offered in the, to backstage converted, canteen at the Biotech compound, some of the models are seated on the floor in a circle having a chat. And even though, closer to the show, with the beginning of the final rehearsal, the situation becomes more hectic, the air is filled with excitement.
The first guests arrive and are checked in by the organizing team while the final rehearsal is still taking place. Maja, who has experience in modeling, has drilled the basics into the models. All of them are volunteers, found mostly through Facebook.
While most of the 15 models are from Geneva, Eva came all the way from Kassel in central Germany to be part of the fashion show. “I thought it might be an adventure”, she explains when asked why she took the long train ride upon herself. Caleb, another model, sees it similarly. “I was always interested in modeling and now I can finally try it”, he says.
Labels that presented their collections included, among others, Avani, RoyalBlush, SondeFlor or Troo. The AYNI boutique in Geneva also lent some of the outfits of various brands. What they all have in common? They are all very environmentally and/or socially conscious and most of them are Swiss brands. The clothes on display included skirts, dresses, trousers, bags and even a wedding dress – all made with sustainable materials, such as recycled polyester or linen.
“The goal was to really show that sustainable fashion can be aesthetically pleasing and available to everyone. It is often seen as fitting only to a specific style and individual, when truly everyone can find themselves with clothing that are of quality and last longer”, said Natacha Reymond, the main organizer. Her Allure Sauvage collection of beautifully designed plant-based handbags and clutches also made it onto the catwalk that evening.
“Fashion is a big part of society today, we use clothes to express ourselves but trends change fast and clothes are not made to last. While we see movement in people trying to reduce their environmental footprint and change their habits in fields like food and travel, we see almost no impact of this in the fashion industry”, she further explained. “We need a way of dressing that does not require over-consumption.”
The Need for Sustainable Fashion
Fast fashion is the term used to describe the well-established system of cheap clothes. They are copied directly off the catwalk or inspired by celebrity styles and available almost overnight in big retailers.1 The fast-paced and low-cost production of such garments has considerable downsides for the working conditions in big clothes factories and the environment. A horrible example of the first was the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which housed five textile mills, due to unauthorized construction and neglect. 1’135 workers were killed.2
In terms of environmental impact, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting sectors in the world. Together with the clothes manufacturing industry, it is responsible for “10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production”.3 We consume over 80 billon clothes per year, with a big part of them landing in the trash way to soon (estimation for the US: 32 kilograms per person every year).4
Down the catwalk
The fashion show was a success. An estimated 250 people came to see the ethical brands. While some of them found the event on Facebook and came to see the clothes, a significant part of them were also curious non-fashionistas, who were simply attending the Open Geneva forum for innovation and stayed for the show.
This is exactly the advantages of having such an event at a forum like this, according to the Open Geneva’s President, Thomas Maillart. His conclusion of the evening: “Great show, great venue”. The general opinion of the audience seemed positive as well, with some members of the audience loving the clothes and some of them not – fashion is after all still very subjective.
The models had fun on their modeling debut. “In the beginning, I was very nervous”, said Caleb, “but suddenly I had a burst of self-confidence and it went well.”
Video: Joddie Pasche
Photos: Maya Stalla & Adrian Grunder
Article: Rebecca Jiménez