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Will COVID-19 Be a Wakeup Call for a Greener, Fairer Fashion Industry?

With the outbreak of Coronavirus and the shutting down of society, we have had a lot of time to sit back and reflect on the effects that fashion has had on the environment. The global lockdown has caused a devastating effect on our global economy and culture. The pandemic has really taken a toll on the fashion industry as we know it. Many brands are struggling to sustain their businesses and many brands are having to shut down their brick and mortar stores. But on the brighter side, it will ultimately offer a blank page to a new beginning. This is time for fashion brands to rethink their strategy and their actions in response to the environment and our planet.

Who would have thought that that brands could be forced to slow down, let alone stop production altogether?  This inconceivable thought has now become a harsh reality of the fashion industry. Brands like Prada are now manufacturing medical gowns and masks for the medical staff instead of creating their couture collection and sanitizers in place of making expensive perfumes. With the eruption of this pandemic, we are seeing a new sense of connectedness, responsibility, and empathy in the fashion industry.

We have a global population of 7.9 Billion and the global fashion industry was manufacturing 150 billion items of clothing every year. That is almost 18 times the population of the world. The fashion industry has a major impact on climate change and global pollutions in general. As more and more businesses shut down temporarily, the daily wage lowly paid workers are the ones who are paying the price while we are self-isolating in our homes. We can use this temporary moratorium on production to emerge out of this pandemic in a better way which is good for both the planet and humanity.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark focus the fact that business, as usual, can be stopped in its tracks, if we want to. The idea of cutting carbon emissions and end the cycles of overproduction now seems like a feasible idea. This is our chance to reboot and change the course of our actions based on the facts and impacts that the fashion industry has had on the environment. The idea should not only be around creating sustainable clothing but also minimizing production and maximizing the maintenance of the item.  It means reducing the volume of clothes we produce and in turn reducing the number of resources we are using. It also means moving away from globalization and rather than having unsafe supply chains, have small local production centers based on the requirements of the area.

It is now the responsibility of fashion brands to rethink how they design clothes and must connect with the needs of society and the environment and work with them and not against them. We are seeing the change through this pandemic already with designers looking for ways to help make protective equipment and gowns for medical teams all over. These are the positive impacts that we must carry forward. We must take this think to rethink and redesign the industry with respect to the planet and the people who work in the industry. We are already seeing a major shift in customer behavior as well as the behavior of businesses and can emerge as a greener and fairer fashion Industry if everyone puts a conscious effort in doing so.

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-04-13

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