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Message to Industry with Alice Aedy

During the Fashion District Festival in September, we were thrilled to welcome Alice Aedy to our Festival Showcase where she eloquently shared a message directed at the fashion industry, encouraging steps towards a more sustainable future. Post-COP26, when climate justice is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we are pleased to share the message with our community – and hope that it helps to spark important reflections on how we can all work towards a more sustainable future for fashion.

View Alice’s message below ->

Read the full message transcript:

Hi, my name is Alice Aedy. I’m a documentary photographer filmmaker and the co-founder of Earthrise Studio.

There is no doubt that this year has challenged us all in ways we never could have imagined. It’s been a year of converging crises, where we collectively became explicitly aware of both the fragility of our planet and the systems that govern us.

A devastating and ongoing pandemic, profound revolt against racial injustice, and of course, a worsening climate crisis, all revealing the extent of our broken system and a single important truth. They are all connected.

That became clear to me and my work as a documentary filmmaker, when I started in 2015, to document the refugee crisis across Europe, Iraq and Lebanon. Back then, I thought rarely of the climate crisis. But slowly the penny dropped. It’s thought that climate change will cause the biggest mass migration in history, with up to 1 billion migrants predicted by 2050. If I cared about those forced from their homes, about racial injustice and about women’s rights, I’d be forced to confront the climate crisis. We can no longer view these issues in isolation.

The same is true of the fashion industry. As many of you will already know, 10% of carbon emissions are produced by the industry globally. But there is also a human and social cost, the reality of which we’ve become completely disconnected from through carefully crafted campaigns selling us a dream of progression and liberation. We turn a blind eye to the women across the global South, paid criminal salaries in the name of cheaper prices. When we buy a polyester summer dress, we forget that it’s intrinsically linked to the struggle of women like Nina, an indigenous activist I filmed with in the Ecuadorian Amazon and her communities fight to protect their territories from oil extraction. What we do here has an impact on those living on the other side of the world. And as Lucy Siegel writes, fast fashion isn’t free. Someone somewhere is paying.

Leading scientists warn us that time is running out to limit climate catastrophe. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen historic flooding in Germany and China, wildfires raging and Turkey and Greece record heat waves and drought. This is a reality we can no longer ignore. This crisis is on our doorstep. Yes, we know we are living in broken systems, but few of us know what the alternative might be. It’s easy to feel powerless even slip into a sense of despair.

We in the climate movement may even spend a little too much time focusing on the apocalyptic future. We fear the sacrifices each of us have to make rather than the opportunity that we have to confront the climate crisis head on. This could be our chance to make our future better than today. You don’t have to be perfect to add your voice to this movement. The fashion industry will not change overnight. And I’m not here to preach or say I have any of the answers required to confront this enormous systemic issue. But I do hope I can offer some hope and inspiration.

Find your role, whether you’re a designer, a model, a photographer, manufacturer, in marketing, or PR, and contribute in whatever way you can, to building an industry that treads lights out on the planet that celebrates transparency, sustainability innovates, with new materials and platforms, the true superheroes of fashion, the skilled hands of garment workers, and of every person in every supply chain. Now more than ever, we need a collective vision for the future. But to paint a vision of that new world, we have to use the most powerful tools at our disposal, creativity, and communication.

So many of you here today have the ability to add your voice to this fight, and the skills to find some of the exciting solutions that will help unravel these converging crises. None of us can do it alone. So let’s use our privilege to create a fashion industry with both people and planet in mind and build a better, fairer, greener world we so desperately need.