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Easing the damage of the fashion industry 

May 4, 2017

Digital Reporter

Cover art Samantha Gonzales1

Have you ever wondered how your clothes were made?

This is the same question that people behind U.K.‑based organization Fashion Revolution have been urging fashion consumers to ask since 2013. The organization was established following the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013 that killed more than 1,000 workers. The plaza was home to American, Canadian, and European clothing labels.

In celebration of Earth Day, Fashion Revolution conducted a series of events in the Philippines to promote its campaign for ethical fashion, including a workshop called “Identify Solutions for Eco‑Fashion Businesses,” held on April 27 in BGC, Taguig City.

Art Samantha Gonzales2

During the event, fashion students and social entrepreneurs laid out plans for local fashion brands to address production and selling issues.

In an interview with SparkUp, Hannah Theisen, a member of the organization who also runs a blog about ethical fashion, said promoting local eco‑fashion brands can help ease the damage that the fashion industry can cause to the environment. However, she noted that promoting these brands will need thorough education for Filipino consumers.

Ms. Theisen said consumers today are now more inquisitive about how products in the market are made. “Consumers are demanding [ethical practices],” she said. “It’s becoming more and more common especially for millennials to really think about where the products that they are consuming come from. It’s important to us as young consumers to support and buy from companies that [are ethical].”

She said a company’s success “should not come at the expense of the people working for them and of the environment.”

Already, Filipinos are embracing this advocacy.

Last April 22, a fashion show entitled “Green Fashion Revolution” was held at one of the largest, most expensive venues to rent in the country, the SMX Convention Center.

Art Samantha Gonzales1

The elaborate gala was organized by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., a publicly listed company engaged in various business activities including power generation, banking and financial services, food manufacturing, real estate development and infrastructure. Though the company does not have interests in fashion retail, its eponymous foundation holds an annual fashion competition called as part of its efforts to promote environmental conservation and biodiversity enhancement.

On the sixth run of the competition held this year, teams from three schools—De La Salle College of Saint Benilde (DLS‑CSB), Asia Pacific College (APC), and SoFA Design Institute (SoFA)—sashayed onstage in clothes that were crafted from 200 kilos of waste material from the company’s business units.

The team from SoFA won the grand prize with their collection called “Pagbabago,” which was comprised of mangrove trees‑inspired pieces. The collection features skirts and dresses made from flour sacks, striped jeans made from discarded denim as well as sweaters and coats made from upholstery fabrics, among others. For this they made ₱50,000 as their own prize and won another ₱50,000 for their chosen beneficiary.

DLS‑CSB bagged the second prize with their collection called “Retaso,” which included pieces mostly made of used denims while APC placed third with its collection called “Abaddon,” featuring pieces made mostly from coffee‑dyed flour sacks.

“With more participation from more schools, hopefully, it would be even bigger next time. But the more important thing is it creates awareness,” Ms. Marasigan said. “As we develop, more and more people are gonna look for companies that are ethical—businesses with a purpose. And it is important for any organization to have a purpose and to be ethical because that’s the only way for them to grow and sustain the business,” Ms. Marasigan said.

Art Samantha Gonzales1

Ethical fashion is enjoying the limelight at the moment—and more Filipinos are getting into it. Francis Sollano, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper for “trashion” (a contraction of trash and fashion), will be exhibiting his works from May 10 to 12 at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The exhibition entitled “Fashion to Dye For” is inspired by the environmental impact brought about by the rapid economic growth in the region.

In a previous interview he had said this: “We have to push for enterprises to go back to the roots of what enterprises were designed for—and that is to improve the state of our societies.”

Displaying your status by how you present yourself is one thing. Being more careful about the ethical practices of your clothes requires more work, but at least in the future, you’re sure that the world still has enough material for you to wear. 


1Photos courtesy of Aboitiz Foundation's Green Fashion Revolution
2Photo Anissa Martha Gomez, Fashion Revolution Philippines