Julie Gilhart is the former fashion director of New York's chicest department store, Barneys New York, and currently one of the industry's most sought-after consultants. So, needless to say, when she talks, we listen. And, these days, Gilhart's talking sustainability. In an illuminating interview with The Business of Fashion, Gilhart discusses how social media is driving conscious consumerism — and why the future of fashion belongs to sustainable brands.
Gilhart first became interested in sustainability while watching a couture show in Paris that cost more than a million dollars to produce. The contrast between that lavish production and larger discussions about global poverty and environmental concerns was a moment of cognitive dissonance that, she says, "changed things for me." Now, she advises brands that, in the future, "customers will not just be seduced by the ‘fashion’ but also by how the fashion is made.” So, it behooves clothing companies to take on more forward-thinking responsibility about the materials they use and how goods are produced. In particular, she calls out Stella McCartney as "the first major designer to take on the challenge" of designing sustainably, with her all-organic capsule collection and commitment to renewable and eco-friendly raw materials.
Gilhart also says social media can be an important driver of consumers' collective consciousness. "Transparency of information is a key factor, and not just from the traditional news sources — social media is having an effect." Click over to BoF for the rest of the interview and for Gilhart's own tips on how she makes responsible choices when she shops. In an industry that frequently gives lip service to ideas of sustainability, it's heartening to see someone who's truly committed. (The Business of Fashion)