Join the Community – How can Fashion Declares support you leading change?

By Helen O’Sullivan

Safia Minney kicked off the webinar explaining Fashion Declares is a grassroots movement, aimed at supporting those within the fashion industry who are passionate about tackling the social and environmental issues of the industry, through radical transparency and corporate governance.

The climate emergency has been a huge concern for over 30 years ago, yet only relatively recently are we beginning to understand how incredibly fragile it is and how huge the impact of human activity is on the environment.

The global north are responsible for 90% of the climate breakdown, yet the global south bears 82% of the effects and the fashion industry is a key contributor to social and environmental issues. Many of us are fighting to make change within the industry but more needs to be done.

We know that we have money, we have ingenuity…the only thing that we’re missing is the political will.

Safia then invites Mike Barry, to present asking him why we all need to be part of the solution.

Mike Barry Sustainability Strategist, formerly M&S

Mike discussed his experience at Marks & Spencer, and the barriers he faced when trying to implement change within the industry. M&S were world leaders at the time with their Plan A initiative, but the crucial challenge was not to develop a plan, but to implement it. This is still the case today: We need to have less ambition and more action.

Mike reiterated Safia’s comments about the climate breakdown by discussing the extreme weather we are all experiencing across the globe and how we are being torn apart by just a 1degree change.

Mike states these impacts demand global alignment, but the powerful governments within the global north are not going to align for us – “we have to step forward and galvanise a revolution”. Not just within markets, but as a connected society.

If we reach an increase in 3 degrees it will be cataclysmic, crucially not just for lives and societies, but also for economies. The little progress we have made in the past has been swamped by our rising consumption.

We are indeed seeing some positive changes globally: people of China and India are beginning to access what we take for granted in the West. But we need to change the narrative: “Less bad is not good enough!”.

Mike suggests we need a shift in power, which we are witnessing with our current oil crisis, but the fashion industry also has to be disrupted, we cannot sustain this constant need for cheap fashion any longer.

Critically, Mike explains we need to do this positively as the negative and restrictive narrative of the past isn’t working. He suggests we should excite people to make change. We need to be a force of designers of the future who are passionate and positive and importantly, with a smile on our faces.

“We need to excite people about this new way of consuming…we need to build a community of change. Together we are stronger.

Lavinia Muth Corporate Responsibility Officer at ARMEDANGELS

Safia then invites Lavinia to speak asking why she has decided to stay in fashion and how she shares her knowledge and best practice within the community.

Firstly, Lavinia states she is not a fashionista and in fact like many of us, wanted to quit fashion due to it’s impact on the global south. Lavinia also notes this should be called the global majority as this group actually represents the majority of people on the planet, yet they often live in such harsh conditions.

Lavinia explained her background within business administration and economics, was focused 100% on economies of scale, growth, and profits, ignoring social, environmental and ethical injustice. Lavinia worked across various sectors from food and electronics before moving into fashion, specifically the social sector. She decided to stay within fashion because the industry is an excellent example of misled management in global supply chains.

“The industry has a power because it’s such an emotional industry”

While the industry is emotive Lavinia notes the lack of empathy shown to people along the supply chain. She regards this as a key motive for supporting Fashion Declares: because no other initiative focuses on restoration and reparations. She suggests we don’t just need a conscious mind shift, we need a cultural shift.

“I feel it’s not enough to slow down, we need to radically reduce the amount of clothing we are producing.”

Lavinia then discusses that we should be addressing, wages, hours of work, safe working conditions and overcoming gendered issues – all things we take for granted here in the global north. We need people to drive all these changes and joining the Fashion Declares community is the first step.

Panel Discussion

Safia agrees that there is still lack of recognition for the social side of the industry and it’s 70 million workers, in particular celebrating the farmers who will be responsible for promoting climate resilience and the restoration of our soils and ecosystems.

Safia asks Mike how he continues to be provocative about discussing such topics that people don’t want to talk about.


He discusses how too many corporate systemic plans ignore the social but also suggested that all people within the industry need to address these issues, not solely designers but marketers, those within logistics, developers. It’s down to everyone.

While Mike recognized the additional issues we have within degrowth, especially during a cost of living crisis, but states we cannot continue on this path, we are currently on the wrong side of disruption and the industry is led by too many too many dinosaurs, the big businesses will eventually die if they do not implement change.


Lavinia echoed this sentiment mentioning brands resistance to implement change immediately. The current paradigm is this change will eventually happen, but we need change now!

She states Fashion Declares is one of the very few accelerators when it comes to community building, it helps to bring the complex and divided industry together as a community.

Question from the Audience

If there is a better raw material production, manufacturing, what kind of impacts could be made?” From Kimberley.

Safia mentions the previous webinar called Low Impact Materials, Biodiversity and Regenerative Farmingwhich covered the topic thoroughly, including some examples of best practice. She also recommended attending the Future Circular And Regenerative Models webinar on September 7th.

Lavinia alludes to the misinformation of impact statistics, which often are not backed up. She also suggested a model of robust supply chain management for each specific design.

Likewise, Safia mentioned the Better Buying Initiative, which proposes the relationship between buyer and supplier is key to change.

Finally, Mike explained how brands tend to avoid talking to consumers about their consumption habits. But suggests the industry could adopt similar initiatives to the food industry, which challenges individual choices first then allowing the much bigger conversation of consumption itself to follow, such as whether we should be consuming at all.

Closing Remarks

Safia mentioned the upcoming webinars, which can be booked via the Eventbrite page. All previous recordings can be viewed via the YouTube channel.

Safia then thanked both Mike and Lavinia for attending and encouraged all attendees to sign up for the Fashion Declares movement.

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Twitter: @FashionDeclares

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