As part of their new campaign Fashion Act Now, Extinction Rebellion have composed a letter to the fashion industry in multimedia format quoting words from industry titans.
Filmed, directed and edited by Tessa Edwards and Kailash Bharti and narrated by intersectional climate activist Tori Tsui, the video was released during Paris Fashion Week September 2020 and calls on the industry to radically transform its culture of excess, consumption and environmental destruction. The video also features the words designers such as Stella McCartney, Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing, and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele.
“This is our calling to make the industry transform into what it can be for the people… to move forward and exercise itself not as a vain profession but as a humanitarian profession,” it quotes Louis Vuitton’s Menswear Artistic Director Virgil Abloh.
Legendary designer Marc Jacobs is also quoted: “We’ve done everything to such excess that there is no consumer for all of it.”
These words were spoken during lockdown restrictions, proving that fashion’s bigwigs have been doing some serious soul-searching in what has been unarguably the industry’s toughest year in recent memory. In fact, as COVID-19 began to spread across the world, Gucci dropped the standard fashion calendar in favour of two seasonless shows per year, with other big brand names such as Saint Laurent and Michael Kors following its example.
Extinction Rebellion is having some success in forcing the industry to take a good long hard look in the mirror. Just a year and a half since it launched its Boycott Fashion protests at London Fashion Week in February 2019, the activist group’s fashion arm known as XR Fashion Action has become a force to be reckoned with, forcing discourse around mindless consumption, fashion’s exploitative practices and the industry’s waste problem.
Now its Fashion Act Now campaign seeks to keep global warming below 1.5C and protect the world’s most vulnerable by co-creating “a roadmap for a real crisis response from the fashion industry”.
“This is not about the environmental record of those quoted in our letter but their massive cultural influence,” says Fashion Act Now activist Clare Farrell.
“The fashion and luxury sectors promote resource and carbon heavy lifestyles, elitism and exclusion. Creative directors of luxury brands have influence over the wealthiest people in the world. The 10% wealthiest, those earning $35,000 a year, are responsible for more than 52% of our global carbon footprint; and the wealthiest 1%, those earning $100,000 a year, contribute double the footprint of the 50% least wealthiest.”
The video reminds viewers that fashion consumption is predicted to grow by 63% in the next decade and urges the industry to make long-term commitments for the benefit of all.
“We call on you to transform our culture of consumption and destruction. Together, let’s demand Fashion Act Now.”
You can watch the two-minute video here.
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Cover image via Extinction Rebellion UK.