What do you think of when you hear the word “activist”? It may conjure images of placards, protests and petitions. These days, influencers and celebrities are embracing activism at a dizzying pace because having a cause is a lucrative business. As more fast fashion brands seek to join the sustainability debate, they are eager to join as sustainability ambassadors.
Every few months, a new fast fashion and influencer partnership seems to infuriate the sustainable fashion community. March 2021 Irish presenters Laura Whitmore Signed as an ambassador for Primark Cares, a sustainability initiative for high street brands. The actor closely followed in April Maisie WilliamsAppointed H&M Global Sustainability Ambassador.Pretty Little Thing was named a Love Island contestant this year india pole As an ambassador for the brand’s new resale market. and more recently, Boohoo announces Kourtney Kardashian-Barker as the brand’s sustainability ambassadorreleased a 45-piece collection, a garment care guide, and a documentary series.
Backlash grew with each new announcement, spilling over from the social media activist community, mainstream media platformBoth brands and influencers have been accused of using their hypocrisy, greenwashing and sustainability to market their products. Others see these influencer partnerships as an increasingly important part of the movement, recognizing their power to connect with potentially millions of people (and inform their spending habits). The question arises here: can the two groups coexist?
Disagreements on how to implement change are nothing new within the sustainability movement. Environmental scholar and professor of sustainable enterprise at the University of Michigan, Andy Hoffman, divides the two camps into “light greens” and “dark greens.” “The bright green environmental groups see the market as the solution and the business as the ally, while the dark green group sees the business as the enemy and the market as the problem.” he explainsRather than having conflicting missions, Hoffman says, “we need both to generate the energy to make change happen.”
Celebrities and influencers (Bright Greens in this scenario) often justify fast fashion partnerships because they want to make sustainability more accessible.this is exactly what i’m worried about venice la manna, fair fashion campaigner and podcaster who falls into the dark green category. “They’re going to find themselves greenwashed. It’s not really sustainable or ethical. Feel and check out, they are no longer interested because they cannot understand what is right and what is wrong. “
There is also the issue of education. Can influencers actually inform audiences or hold brands accountable from the inside, assuming they have no experience in supply chain management or sourcing? Are you ready to ask the tough questions green activists would ask in your shoes? Perhaps they could become a greenwashing mouthpiece for the brand and reach a wider audience.
La Manna wants fast fashion brands and their ambassadors to do more. “Obviously, I’m more interested in them making a fundamental change than hearing about it. They’re taking up too much space and the industry is giving them too many platforms. “I think it’s giving,” she says. I would like to find a way to do it.”
Indeed, many dark green activists see fast fashion’s “conscious” collaboration as directly contradicting everything they fight. “These campaigns aren’t really moving forward,” says La Manna. “They are trying their best not to listen to our two main demands: reduce production and pay clothing manufacturers a fair living wage.”
Celebrity influencers like Kardashian Barker rumored to be worth $65 millioncould probably be done without profiting from the garment workers, more than half of whom still make below minimum wage I make Boohoo clothes in Leicester, England. asks La Manna. “Of all people, [Kardashian Barker] I’m in a financial situation that refuses that salary. No one needs a paycheck more than a clothing manufacturer. ”
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Founder Christina Dean redress design award and brand R Collectivehas spent the past 15 years working to reduce textile waste in fashion. She was interviewed by Kardashian Barker Episode 2 We see Boohoo’s documentary series as an opportunity to raise awareness about waste and overconsumption. “Sustainability advocates often preach to converts,” she says. “I agreed to do this because I wanted to put a cat inside a pigeon and speak to a new audience in an introductory way. There is none.”
Throughout her career, Dean says her views on activism have evolved with experience. “I value emotion, power and emotion,” she said. [Dark Green activists’] It’s a democratic view of what the solution will be,” she says. There is room for everyone at the table, but it is very important to be informed. ”
A former fashion influencer who creates mindful fashion content, Andrea Chong We understand the pressure influencers feel to produce the content their audience expects. Venturing into sustainability can be unfamiliar and dangerous territory. “I don’t think it’s a split between those who care about sustainability and those who don’t. Clearly, many influencers are attracted to these fast fashion partnerships because of the salary. ?
Cheong believes the tide is slowly turning as influencers see their slow-fashion counterparts succeed. “So many people saw my videos go viral and started considering switching to a more mindful approach. she says. “They also saw me getting some cool brand deals and realized I could make a living out of this. I know it seems like a small drop in the ocean. , there is a ripple effect.We can influence each other.”
La Manna reflects this sentiment. “If you really want to make a lot of money, there are ways to do it with a million followers that don’t involve fast fashion partnerships,” she says. If there is anything you can do to educate yourself about what you can do to further exploit the planet, get involved. Don’t underestimate your power.
One thing the interviewees want to emphasize is that this discussion is not about moral superiority. “Just because I don’t shop at Zara doesn’t make me a better person or a better person,” Cheong says. “Online, it becomes very reductive. People wear fast fashion. It’s amazing.” Instead, it would arguably be more effective to set a positive example that encourages more influencers to reconsider their contribution to the conversation. is.
There are many avenues that influencers and celebrities can go down, helping to future-proof their careers in a more positive way.”Some influencers say they don’t accept fast fashion gifts I’ve seen another influencer say they want to buy second-hand for as long as possible,” says Cheong. “I’ve seen stories about independent brands alone. It’s great to see the impact it has on your peers.”
Despite the gulf between bright green and dark green, it’s clear that stimulating each other won’t do much to solve the serious problems facing the fashion industry. The more influencers and celebrities join the sustainability movement, the more important it is to empower them to educate themselves, evolve their perspectives, make mistakes and learn from them. Dean says it’s time to get more people involved in the movement.
“I’ve become a little more liberal with the term. It took me 15 years to get to where I am today, and I understand that there are many shades of green,” she says. “You have to be open-minded to get anything done.”