Ahead of the Dress For Our Time installation at St Pancras International later this week, we caught up with some LCF students to discuss their thoughts on the relationship between climate change and fashion. We spoke to MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation student Irene-Marie Seelig, and MA Fashion Design Management student Erica Siegel.
Why do you think it’s important for us to learn about climate change?
Erica: Climate change is very important to learn about and understand. I recently read that this November may be the warmest ever. The world is changing right in front us and if we could understand the depths of climate change and the repercussions it has on our environment, we might be a little more proactive about the issue. If we can find creative and sustainable solution to things like deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, waste, etc. then I believe, at least on a small scale, we may be able to delay or slow down the drastic consequences of human actions.
Irene: Learning about climate change is important from all angles – not just from fashion but from food as well. Everything that you consume has an effect on the environment and our carbon footprint. It’s important for us to know about the things we buy and the impact they have, because the things that we buy end up being the things that we support and that affects the world around us.
How do you think the fashion industry and climate change impact each other?
Erica: It is said that fashion is the third largest polluting industry in the world behind oil and agriculture. Unfortunately we live in a time where consumers want fast and cheap fashion, no matter what the consequences may be. The fashion industry directly impacts climate change because we, as a whole, are not implementing real, viable sustainable solutions. The raw material that we use and how we manufacture product has major effects on the global climate. We use, we waste and we continue not to care about the impact our industry has on the world.
Irene: I think the correlation between fashion and climate change probably isn’t so obvious from a consumers point of view. The people who are running the fashion industry and the people who are engaged in it on a day to day basis need to start telling that story like Helen is doing with this project. Climate change takes a really long time but at the same time if we don’t start now, then when are we going to start influencing it and making a change? The whole process of thinking about the clothes that you’re wearing needs to be more developed – how are they made, and if they are made in a toxic way then those toxins end up getting into our water system, or on our bodies which can have an impact on us personally. My dissertation focuses on wellbeing – if you understand your body and how to keep yourself well, then you’ll start thinking about how you can make the planet well.
Do you think installations like Dress For Our Time can make a difference and how?
Erica: I think any projects done, big or small, can make a difference in perspective and attitude – someone is learning something. The installations by Helen Storey gives a punch when you see it. I think it’s important to create awareness as climate change can be an overwhelming and daunting issue. To see it executed so creatively and visually, I hope it helps anybody who happens to walk by the installation to understand a little more. By doing this, Helen is adding knowledge about the human impact of climate change and we are one step closer to changing our future in a positive way.
Irene: I think the installations are great because they create an impact right away. People see it and they question what it is, and then if they like it, if it’s beautiful – which it will be, they will want to engage. You go deeper and deeper into questioning it, do your own research at home because you saw it, hopefully telling some friends along the way. I think word of mouth is the best way of spreading things like this, nothing can beat that.
What do you think we can do as individuals to help the situation?
Erica: People shouldn’t feel powerless, everyone can do something. I think there are practical and easy solutions like— don’t shop all the time, buy good quality clothes as oppose to poorer quality garments, don’t throw clothes out—reuse them in another way, recycle them, donate them. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Put a little more thought into it, who knows, you may even ironically find that your wardrobe is full of things you value and like more anyway!
Irene: I think the wellbeing aspect is important here. Once you give people the tools they will question themselves and see the impact of what they are doing to the environment. Once you start understanding yourself and your body then you can look out further into how it relates to the planet.
Dress For Our Time will be on display at St Pancras International Station Concourse, 24 hours a day from 26 – 29 November. Join the #Dress4OurTime and #ClimateChange conversation on Instagram and Twitter.