The Importance of Education in Sustainable Fashion
Isabelle Saxton showcases a dress from her project "The Impossible Dream." Photo credit: Isabelle Saxton
Arguably the most important step towards a sustainable fashion industry is education. No positive change can be made without the knowledge that change is necessary.
Isabelle Saxton, a sustainable designer who is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Sustainability at Harvard University, specifically uses her clothing to start conversations and educate others. “Fashion is a great form of activism, and it's a great form of self-expression,” she says.
Isabelle Saxton poses in front of a sign for "The Impossible Dream." Photo credit: Isabelle Saxton
Pants made from construction workwear. Photo credit: Isabelle Saxton.
Saxton’s latest project was titled “The Impossible Dream,” which refers to her hope that everyone could one day be sustainable by choice. The collection utilizes scrap fabric and sustainable practices while conveying very important messages.
Construction workwear is featured heavily and is not without meaning. “I realized the irony that construction workers wear the most attention-grabbing clothing,” Saxton says. “If you look on the street, you can see a worker from miles away — that's literally what the clothing was designed for.” Despite this, Saxton noticed that most people tend to look away from construction workers when passing by. In “The Impossible Dream” she tied this phenomenon to sustainability, where she saw the same situation occurring. “Most people have the awareness about at least one sustainability issue, but then they turn around and don't pay any attention, or don't make lifestyle changes to be more sustainable,” she says.
Offensive fabric made by Isabelle Saxton. Photo credit: Isabelle Saxton.
The same collection also features fabric with “deliberately offensive” language, like “f--- the planet,” and “is being a dumb c--- genetic or contagious?” The purpose of this is to “trigger an emotional reaction and a gut reaction” from viewers, Saxton says. Her hope is that her clothing starts a conversation.
Although Saxton’s work functions as a form of education, in the end, the public must educate themselves. "It sucks, but it's up to the consumer to really do their research and figure it out," says Preeti Arya.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine whether or not clothing has been made sustainably. "Now it is trendy to be sustainable, and I think a lot of companies use it as a way to market and sell their clothes," Zitnikaite says. Greenwashing — when brands provide misleading information to appear environmentally friendly — makes it difficult to ascertain if a brand is truly sustainable, or just pretending to be.