Have you ever really wondered where your favourite Tee was manufactured, whether the people who made it were treated fairly, whether any animals were harmed or the environmental impact of its production?

Read all about what Sustainable Fashion is in a Namibian context.

What is Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion has everything to do with treating and taking care of our environment, being responsible with our resources and treating whoever that makes the beautiful garment fairly. It also has more to do with sustainable patterns of consumption and use, which necessitate shifts in individual attitudes and behaviour.

World wide, there’s an increasing proportion of consumers that are becoming conscious of what they’re buying and we need to jump on the same wagen for our sake. It’s 2019 and we are at a point in time where we need to be making conscious consumer decisions when purchasing anything. 

Sustainable Fashion in Namibia.

Are we practicing it as a nation? Are our people aware of the problem at hand and are we ready to make all the necessary changes now that it is knocking at our door step?

These are questions we posed amongst ourselves as a brand -The Monochrome Group and they all came back with ‘Uhm, well… or what truly shocked us was the *cricket sounds.  Are we doing enough to spread the word and engaging our people on the topic as a platform? No, we are not but we surely are moving into the right direction all thanks to the Fashion Futures movement.

Namibia, is playing a part in sustainable fashion in a much rather passive way. We can look at how thrift shops have gained momentum in the past 2 to 3 years. “The new way to fashion” these days.

Who is actively participating?

The likes of Fashion Designers, Creatives and Fashion advocates in Namibia such as Taati Sibolile, Cynthia Schimming, Chakira Classen, and Leah Misika and  through their work, actively practice sustainability in the Namibian fashion industry.

Namibia is flooded with international clothing brands and little to show for our own local retailers or rather fashion brands having shelf space because “they do not meet their requirements, “too expensive” or rather “not on-brand”. Fashion brands such as House of Poulton paved the way for local designs to open up their own spaces to create and sell their work.  Nikola Conradie Fashions recently opened shop and plans on accommodating other designers to showcase and sell their work.

The Windhoek Fashion Week in collaboration with The Fashion Council of Namibia hosted a Fashion Trends and International Markets Talk during the 2018 WFW.  Josephine Barbe, from Berlin Technical University in Germany,  shared insights on Sustainability in Fashion. Read all about it here. Babrbe, however failed to touch how Africa  in-depth too can play a part in reducing our carbon footprint.

In textile production one has to employ energy and water efficient processes for dyes and finishes or use natural dyes and if you do not employ steps to ensure good eco-governance in the production of your garments, then you suffer the same fate as the RAMATEX Garment Factory . There is a handful of people that produce textiles  now and that number is so low because raw materials are quiet expensive to sustain a small startup.

One thing we should understand is that there is only so much we can do with what we have as a nation and now that the world is looking at us- Africa, we need to find ways to be better and do better.

Here’s how to join the movement.

As a Designer:

Use environmentally friendly materials e.g., bamboo, hemp, organic cotton. Also, garments made from one fibre (e.g., 100% organic cotton) can be re-spun into fibres again at the end of use.

Design for dis-assembly so that clothes can be taken apart and re-introduced into the garment life-cycle. Designed with ‘no waste’. Using quality fabric will help them live longer.

Ensure fair wages and this will directly improve your worker’s quality of life.

Minimize your carbon footprint! Garment transport puts out a huge amount of C02, which can be reduced by minimizing the distances during production.

As a Consumer:

Look at the tag of your garments. See where it was manufactured. Familiarize yourself with clothing companies and/or brands that practice  sustainability.

Use what you have and be creative in your wardrobe choices. Reusing, re-assembling, up-cycling, op-shopping, vintage and even raiding your friends’ wardrobes.

Please note: Only apparel which is 100% can be recycled because there is no technology at the moment to can separate mixed materials. Be advised to turn away from pieces that have blended fibers i.e  80% cotton/wool/anything and 20% something else.

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint in the fashion industry and all other sectors?

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