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Growth & Jobs | Future of fashion is sustainability

Next-gen designers urged to adopt environmentally friendly practices

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2022 | 12:08 AM
The entrance to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts located on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston.
The entrance to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts located on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston.
Linton-George
Linton-George
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PLAYERS IN the local fashion and apparel sector are being urged to look towards sustainability as the global fashion industry focuses more on environmentally friendly practices.

Acting head of department for applied art at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Laura Lee Jones, said there can be no conversation surrounding the future of fashion without mentioning sustainability.

Citing a 2021 Harvard Business Review, she noted that “an active consciousness about reducing the environmental footprint by trimming operational waste, among other things, is going to be the central focus of any business venturing into fashion”. This, she said, must also be at the forefront for the next generation of fashion designers.

Jones was addressing the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC’s) recent ‘In Concert’ virtual series under the theme ‘Bespoke in an Online World: Cut-to-Fit; Hit or Miss’.

Fashion designer and owner of Keneea Linton Boutique, Keneea Linton-George, agreed, touting sustainable fashion as an avenue to assist the recovery of the industry from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted that the increase in the consumption of fast fashion over the last two decades has not only impacted the industry but the environment.

Fast fashion is described as the copying of high-fashion designs or catwalk trends by the clothing industry and then mass-producing them cheaply and quickly to meet consumer demand.

The idea is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible, so that shoppers can snap them up while they are still at the height of their popularity and then discard them, after a few wears, for the next trend.

This is a toxic system of overproduction and consumption that has made fashion one of the world’s largest polluters, causing damage to the planet, exploiting workers, and harming animals.

“We must play our part, and I believe that sustainable fashion is the answer,” Linton-George said.

She said that the move towards sustainable fashion is slow, but provides opportunity for local designers to capitalise on by “going back to the artisanal craft, whether crochet, embroidery, hand beading and weaving”.

Meanwhile, Jones said that “for the future generation of fashion designers, technology is going to be even more integrated into what we know as fashion”. She noted that there are numerous technology-driven platforms that are changing the habits of consumers [and] that designers can use to their advantage.

She implored students looking to do a fashion programme at Edna Manley to understand that “it is not just pure fashion and creativity that is going to set them apart, but they must now integrate technology, which will help them to build their brands”.

The JBDC’s ‘In Concert’ series is designed to foster relevant conversations for entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries.

The discussions bring together local industry experts within various sectors to tackle and provide helpful insight to stimulate the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.