Admit it: when you think in the future of fashion, you wander off to styles. Sleek, multi-purpose one-pieces, bio-plastics as capes and headgears, sentient fabrics… in short, either ragged cyberpunk aesthetics or clean, purified looks from faraway futures where humanity reigns supreme over a couple of galaxies. We do too, actually!
Thing is, the future of fashion is already here. But it is yet to manifest itself as the present due to the way we still make and think about fashion. It’s easily achievable, just waiting for us to shift the fashion paradigms, from today’s fast fashion to a better, more sustainable, more humane and eco-friendly slow fashion.
Our current fashion, as it exists today, is not only fast: it’s voracious. It pays no mind to sustainability: one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second by the fashion industry, according to a study by the Ellen McArthur Foundation. It focuses on quantity and disposability: even though almost 100% of all fabrics are recyclable, more than 70% of all garments end up in landfills. It has little to no regard for the environment. It consumes resources without worrying about environmental pollution. It creates massive waste, squandering all types of natural resources: concerning water alone, the World Bank estimates that almost one fifth of all the water wasted on industrial pollution comes from dyeing fabrics. And it exploits people, employing children, foregoing fair pay and fair trade, in conditions known to the public for decades through extensive reporting.
However, the most important thing to retain, we feel, is that fast fashion exists because we let it exist. We associate fashion with industry, but not with waste. We see the clothes and can’t picture the sweatshops, the plastic threads and chemicals boiling in building-sized vats, churning away pollutants to meet demand and slash that final retail price.
It is our responsibility not only to demand changes in the fashion industry but to change ourselves as well in order to force that change to happen.
That is why we, at Ina Koelln, instead of fast fashion, choose to make slow fashion, with a focus on the environment and human conditions as much as on the final product. This presents a new deal of choices and a fresh new set of challenges that we embrace with open arms and see as the only right way forward.
We choose to focus on quality rather than quantity. Things you buy should be worth more than they are priced. That is why all our items are made with the purpose of lasting decades (if not centuries). This demands bold, deep aesthetics, so we focus heavily on our designs, instead of trends or seasons, to make them perfect for any look or occasion. It also demands the best quality in materials and assemblage, so that our products can last throughout the years.
We also try to use only sustainably-made and harvested, chemical-free, all natural and/or vegan materials that can tackle the problem of waste. For this purpose, we have been researching for more than a decade in order to incorporate cutting-edge materials like cork, pinatex or recycled polymers into our products.
Lastly, we keep it local. By not outsourcing our production, we reduce our carbon footprint. This makes us work with local producers and that, in turn, fosters the development of local communities, all while practicing fair trade – and fair pay.
These are all principles that can easily be scaled. Fashion can slow down. Chic can be green. Clothes and bags can be beautiful without turning the planet ugly. The future of fashion is coming, and it can arrive today – if you make it happen.
Image: Forbidden Planet (1956)