CFDA Doubles Down On Sustainable Fashion

Photo: Yanshan Zhang/Getty Images.
It's time to start taking sustainable fashion seriously. At least, that's what the Council of Fashion Designers of America is saying.
Off the heels of their "Insiders/Outsiders" diversity report, the organization that advocates for American designers published a sustainability report that educates creatives on a range of topics, like materials, packaging, how to sustainably up-cycle, and more. The report, which is 233 pages long, may not be a first of its kind (like the Pulse Of The Fashion Industry by the Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group, which is 126 pages) — but it's the CFDA's boldest move yet in this arena.
The initiative is comprised of four parts: The first, a guide to sustainable strategies, which coaches designers on building their own road to a more sustainable brand. The second, a sustainable strategies toolkit, which provides designers with step-by-step guidance in implementing sustainable blueprints. Third is a materials index, which details the components of over 40 fibers — like natural fibers versus manufactured ones — that will continue to be updated. And lastly, a sustainability directory, which helps explain concepts like "slow fashion" and lists organizations that are pioneers in their respective areas of expertise, like fabric libraries or vendors focused on sustainability (or have direct relationships with artisans that do).
"Currently, the fashion industry is not sustainable. We are using up natural resources and exploiting people in ways that will deplete future generations of the resources they need, impacting the future profitability and business opportunities," the report reads. "In order for the industry to change we need to work together. This guide is available to [the] public as a critical educational resource. Through this project we seek to shift sustainable practices among members as well as across the entire industry."
It's hard to refute reports like these, because they do more good than harm. In fact, they're completely harmless (depending on how in-depth they are in terms of environmental impact). But what's most important is that they're not just seen, or heard — the CFDA plans to host four events throughout the year focused on discussing the work in the report — but that they're taken seriously. Though designers are not yet required to adhere to sustainability standards, it's findings like these that could change, if not revolutionize, industry-wide attitudes and practices. Let's hope so.

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