Given how long I’ve been writing articles and pieces about sustainable fashion and ethical living, I sometimes coin phrases that make its way around the world wide web. It’s always a lovely feeling when my words resonate with someone and they are so affected by them they create a beautiful meme and tag us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
But there are many others in the space who have articulated their thoughts, communicated thought-provoking ideas and uttered brilliant words in ways I wish I could have.
So in this post, I pay the kindness given to me forward; paying homage to those incredible people – eco fashion pioneers, ethical fashion advocates, designers, activists, celebrities, musician and conscious folk – who continue to inspire me and countless others with their incredible words of wisdom.
(Note: Where I could locate the source of the quote, I have included in brackets.)
— Jen xx
- “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” —Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer (The Guardian Live Interview 2014)
2. “Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.” —Lucy Siegle, journalist and author
3. “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” —Mahatma Gandhi
4. “Fast fashion is like fast food. After the sugar rush it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.” —Livia Firth, ethical fashion advocate and founder of sustainable fashion consultancy Eco-Age
5. “What is ethical fashion? It’s a confusing term. Sometimes it’s easier to define by what it isn’t – and unfortunately that is most of what can be found on the high street. Unethical fashion means very very little transparency, accountability and knowledge of the supply chain. It means demands of very quick lead times and production turnaround. It means producers played off against each other. It means a wage that doesn’t even afford the worker an adequate salary for two meals a day.”—Safia Minney, fair trade fashion pioneer, author and founder of People Tree (The Guardian 2008)
6. “Cheap consumer products are sold to us as some grand achievement of globalisation, but they’ve come at the price of middle-class jobs, craftsmanship and stable communities.” —Elizabeth L. Cline, author of ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion‘
7. “As a designer I like to work with fabrics that don’t bleed. That’s why I avoid all animal skins.” —Stella McCartney, fashion designer (Elle 2012)
8. “As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.” —Emma Watson, actress and ethical fashion advocate
9. “Demand quality not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.” —Orsola de Castro, designer and cofounder of Fashion Revolution'Demand quality not just in the products you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.' —Orsola de Castro, designer and cofounder of Fashion RevolutionClick To Tweet
10. “I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.” —Yohji Yamamoto, fashion designer
11. “Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you express by the way you dress and the way you live.” —Gianni Versace, fashion designer
12. “Waste isn’t waste until we waste it.” —Will.I.Am, musician
13. “Becoming more mindful about clothing means looking at every fiber, at every seed and every dye and seeing how to make it better. We don’t want sustainability to be our edge, we want it to be universal.” —Eileen Fisher, fashion designer
14. “As with other social and political statements through commercial art, eco fashion is a reaction to social and ecological conditions.” —Sass Brown, fashion educator and author (from her book ‘ECO Fashion‘)
15. “No one wants to wear clothes that were made from someone’s blood.” —Amber Valetta, model and entrepreneur (Vogue 2015)
16. “When an industry doesn’t care about how people are treated, no consideration of sustainability is possible. You can’t just care about the environment and forget about the fair and ethical treatment of people.” —Simone Cipriani, founder of International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative (Thomas Reuters Foundation 2016)
17. “What if we started by slowing down and not consuming so much stuff, just because it’s there and cheap and available. It’s amazing how that process makes sense financially, it makes sense ethically, it makes sense environmentally.” —Andrew Morgan, filmmaker and director of ‘The True Cost’ (The Guardian 2015)
18. “The fast fashion business model is finite, because the natural resources it uses will get scarcer and scarcer. If you want your company to be successful 15 years from now, you have to address these issues today, even if your profits are a lot less as a result.”—Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age (shared in a 2015 Business of Fashion panel discussion)
“The fast fashion business model is finite, because the natural resources it uses will get scarcer and scarcer. If you want your company to be successful 15 years from now, you have to address these issues today, even if your profits are a lot less as a result.” —Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age (shared in a 2015 Business of Fashion panel discussion)
19. “I want to bring a message which is veganism, and that there doesn’t have to be torture in fabulous fashion. You can be stylish, and sustainable all at the same time.” —Miley Cyrus, actress and musician (Wearing a Stella McCartney dress at Met Gala, Vogue interview 2018)
20. “People’s clothing consumption is determined by their level of disposable income. A living wage in Britain only covers the basics; the minimum wage means poverty and debt. So let’s work for a good wage for all working people so that they can have a choice about what brands they can choose.” —Tansy Hoskins, author of ‘Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion‘ (from Safia Minney’s book ‘Slow Fashion: aesthetic meets ethics‘)
21. “One day we’ll wake up and Green will not be the new black, it will be the new invisible. Meaning, no longer will sustainable be the exception or something that’s considered au courant; instead it will be a matter of course – something that all designers incorporate into their design ethos.” —Summer Rayne Oakes, world’s first ‘eco’ model and serial ecopreneur (from her book ‘Style, Naturally‘)
22. “Consumer demand can revolutionise the way fashion works as an industry. If everyone started to question the way we consume, we would see a radically different fashion paradigm.” —Carry Somers and cofounder of Fashion Revolution (from Safia Minney’s book ‘Slow Fashion: aesthetic meets ethics‘)
23. “Fashion can be a universal player in protecting the planet.” —Pharrell Williams, musician and entrepreneur (National Geographic 2014)
24. “When you wear vintage, you never have to worry about showing up in the same dress as someone else.” —Jessica Alba, actress, author and entrepreneur (from her book The Honest Life 2013)'One day we'll wake up and Green will not be the new black, it will be the new invisible. Meaning, no longer will sustainable be the exception...' - Summer Rayne OakesClick To Tweet
25. “The idea that a country gets rich by importing a load of stuff from overseas then chucking it out is bizarre.” —Richard Denniss, Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute
26. “Realise the political power of your money and spend it with the brands you know are treating their workers and the environment in the best possible way.” —Lily Cole, model and entrepreneur (Harper’s Bazaar 2014)
27. “Cheap fashion is really far from that, it may be cheap in terms of the financial cost, but very expensive when it comes to the environment and the cost of human life.” —Sass Brown, fashion educator and author (from her book ‘ECO Fashion‘)
28. “Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.” —Anne Klein, fashion designer
29. “We have been told a story that casts us in the role of consumers, people who merely take in products that were made far away. The reality is that as human beings we make choices, and the choices we make around what we wear are having profound implications for our planet as well as for some of our most vulnerable fellow human beings.” —Andrew Morgan, filmmaker and director of ‘The True Cost’ (from Safia Minney’s book ‘Slow Fashion: aesthetic meets ethics‘)
30. “The really great thing about my shoe store is that there’s not one dead animal in it.” —Stella McCartney, fashion designer
31. “Become an active citizen through your wardrobe.” —Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age
32. “Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear.” —Elizabeth L. Cline, author of ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.‘
33. “Can we really consume our way out of consumerism?” – Michelle Haworth, editor of The Beam
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Disclosure: The curated list is based on the writer’s research and all data and stats are current at time of publishing. All images courtesy of Unsplash. This list also contains affiliate links. For more information, click here.