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Navigating the Social and Ethical Challenges of Fast Fashion: Tāmaki Makaurau - November 2023

On Thursday 9th November, we hosted a panel event in Tāmaki Makaurau exploring the social and ethical challenges of fast fashion. 

Fast fashion has a significant environmental impact, seen in resource depletion through excessive water, energy, and material usage, alongside the generation of immense textile waste. It involves poor labour conditions and a lack of supply chain transparency, fostering human rights violations. It raises questions of excessive consumerism and undermines local industries. 

To address these challenges we need to look to sustainable practices, enhanced transparency and advocating for regulations that enforce ethical production standards. 

We had the privilege to host wonderful panellists from different facets of the industry:

  • Lisa McEwan - senior lecturer in Fashion Design at Auckland University of Technology, with 26 years of industry experience. She leads the Design for Social and Environmental Justice programme at AUT. Her research platform is transformative design and includes co-design projects designed to address job losses in the local fashion industry as a result of globalisation.

  • Charli Cox - founded Koha Apparel in 2019 after observing the state of deprivation in Tāmaki Makaurau, partnering with Everybody Eats to feed and clothe the homeless. Charli works tirelessly practising a hands-on approach, guided by her passion to demonstrate how care and purpose can create opportunities towards enhancing human, societal and environmental progress.

  • Tracey Creed - marketing and content strategist at Koha Apparel with 7+ years of experience with a focus on social responsibility and sustainability. She is currently overseeing communications, e-commerce and impact reporting, facilitating collaboration between our partners and communities to achieve our social and sustainable development goals.

  • Lucy-Mae -  textile artivist and upcyclist. Her work is a combination of redesigned / hand-drawn / hand-cut / hand-printed / hand-made individual ideas/ creations that breathe new life into old things, giving new purpose to 'pre-loved' or 'second-hand' clothing and fabrics. With a focus and passion in activism, and standing up against systems of oppression and destruction to our planet and people, Lucy-Mae is also the founder of Fashion Rebellion and The Upcycle Collective Aotearoa.

  • Ellis Hong -  launched her predominantly made-to-order clothing brand Ellis Label in 2017 in response to witnessing the impact of fast fashion and seasonal calendars within the industry. She and her small team of makers are based in Waitakere, Auckland and continue to craft and fulfil orders as they become requested online. 

Taking the kaupapa forward: What can you do to advocate for sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry?

1. Demand transparency from brands

Write a letter to your favourite brand and ask them to be more transparent in their supply chain and sustainability practices. 

Express your concerns and hopes for a more accountable and ethical fashion industry. 

Your voice as a consumer can make a significant impact!

2. Engage in activism

Join an existing petition advocating for greater transparency and ethical practices in the fashion industry. 

By adding your signature, you contribute to a collective voice that can influence brands, policymakers, and the public to take action for a more responsible and sustainable fashion ecosystem.

Sign Lucy-Maes’ petition to call on the government to implement producer responsibility measures here

3. Keep learning

Stay informed about the issues related to fast fashion, ethical practices, and environmental impacts by reading books and articles, and watching documentaries. 

These documentaries are a great start. 

4. Shop mindfully 

Commit to buying clothing less frequently, and when you do, choose from ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Consider second-hand or thrift shopping as well.

5. Clothing swaps

Organise clothing swap events with friends and family to exchange clothing items and reduce waste or join one in your community. 

Crushes hosts regular clothing swaps. The next one is on 22nd November. Register here!


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