Images courtesy of @theconsciousfestival 

Conscious Festival 2022 Wrap-Up

The Scoop on Sustainable Fashion

By Renee Fortune

The Conscious Festival returned for the ninth year, this time in hybrid form, combining digital experiences, a physical conference in Paris and a pop-up event in London. The festival, which attracted visitors and subscribers from all over the world, took place from 30 September to 02 October. This year’s event featured talks, workshops, a marketplace of green vendors and an immersive music and art installation featuring young, emerging artists. 

“Creating systemic change to tackle the key social, political and existential issues of our time,” is the festival’s mission statement and this year, it delivered on that mission once again. 

Plain Tiger is a proud community partner of the festival, and in attendance was our Managing Director, Louis Orlianges, who kept a close eye on everything fashion. Giving us his wrap-up of the event, Louis highlighted the four main issues/challenges surrounding sustainable fashion that were brought to light during the festival. 

1. The world’s addiction to fast fashion

The big ‘f-word’ was on everyone’s lips yet again: fast fashion. And after attending and contributing to the various workshops and talks that were hosted by the festival, Louis describes the world’s preoccupation with fast fashion as an addiction. 

The way that cheaply-made, mass-produced fashion has crept up on the world has been distinctively insidious. The boom of the fast fashion industry during the 90s was everything but a passing fad – over time, it became a growing dependence. And really, what we have today is an industry that is completely reliant on the exploitation of the planet and its people.

To many, reversing the damage that has been done seems like an insurmountable problem -– something of an addiction, which by its very nature is progressive, compulsive and frankly, out of control. As advocates for change, when we frame fast fashion in this way, we highlight the severity of the problem – not so that we can adopt a defeatist attitude towards it, but so that we can get really practical about the solutions,” said Louis.

2. The need for high-calibre sustainable fashion events

Luxury fashion is associated the world over with events such as Paris and Milan Fashion Week. These events have served as the global showcases of choice for major industry players and guest lists to these events read like the ‘Who’s Who’ of the entertainment industry. But, with the much-needed shift to conscious consumerism, there is a lot of work to be done to elevate events around sustainable fashion to the same level of prestige as major catwalk shows. The Conscious Festival is a great place to start. 

Images courtesy of @theconsciousfestival 

3. The prevalence of greenwashing

The festival gave rise to much debate and discussion about greenwashing, with some of the world’s most ubiquitous fashion brands being held to account for disseminating misinformation and turning the transition to sustainable fashion into a PR exercise. Panelists also touched on the lack of reliable and recognisable authentication stamps and devices that can help consumers recognise when a garment is fully sustainable. 

As Louis adds: “One of the oldest and most famous industry certifications was Woolmark, which was referenced a few times by different thought leaders at the festival. What was highlighted was the urgent need for well-organised and transparent certification bodies like Positive Luxury, which is playing a vital role in fast-tracking brands into the circular, climate-positive economy. 

What I am incredibly inspired by is the potential of blockchain technology to dramatically challenge and drive change against greenwashing. As a new-generation, fashion e-commerce platform, Plain Tiger is deeply invested in promoting the development and industry-wide application of this kind of technology. The key to taking this technology to the masses is collaboration between movements such as Plain Tiger and other sustainable fashion platforms to push the agenda and put the spotlight on first adopters.”

4. The growing community of eco-fashionistas

Another key aspect of the festival was the encouraging prospect of a growing body of influencers and social media activists who are driving conversations and debate around sustainable fashion in the online space. 
Relatively, the community of eco-fashionistas is still small but in Louis’s opinion, there are a few glimmers of hope on the horizon, particularly in the Gen Z and millennial space: “it’s incredible to see the younger generations taking up the mantle of sustainability by supporting ethical brands, advocating for climate action and living in a way that’s cognisant of our interconnectedness with each other and the planet.”

Images courtesy of @theconsciousfestival 

Louis’s key takeout

On Saturday, the festival hosted a panel entitled, ‘how to align your life mission,’ which centered on practical ways that people can shift their stance on consumerism and change unsustainable habits. For Louis, this was the highlight of the festival and an essential component of advocating for climate action. 

“The best way that activists in the sustainability space can reach people is by keeping things super practical. Of course there’s a need to understand the high-level developments and intricacies of how climate change will impact us in the future. But people need to be educated on what they can do right now, right here, to participate in bringing about change. We hope to contribute to these kinds of conversations by addressing issues such as eco-anxiety and sharing actionable insights that people can adopt and share.”

Something to think about

The workshop on food and regenerative agriculture drove home the fact that when it comes to the world of sustainable fashion, it all begins with the sourcing of materials. The workshop touched on major retail brands such as Dior Beauty and their obsession with preserving and nurturing their own rose gardens in the south of France. 

As Louis concludes: “Nature has invaluable lessons to teach us if we just stop, listen and learn. Does the future of fashion involve a closer link between fashion production and agriculture? Should the fashion brands of the future have a hand in the process, literally from the ground up? It’s certainly something to consider and talk about.

I’m looking forward to following the topic of regenerative agriculture and its relation to the fashion industry. See you all at the 2023 Conscious Festival.”

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