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On Style vs Sustainability

December 5, 2017

I love Dolce & Gabbana. Their vision is so grand and escapist — this is what great fashion does: make you dream. In my opinion if you fail to make people dream, you’re in the clothing business, not fashion.


But this is the disappointing part: D&G maintains very little corporate transparency in terms of revealing their supply chain or sources of their leather products. In 2015, they were even singled out as one of the worst luxury fashion brands by Greenpeace in their Detox campaign for failing to identify hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing and set priorities for elimination with timelines.


And this is where I think the conversation surrounding sustainable fashion needs to pivot: it is not about making sustainability stylish, it is about making stylish sustainable - because you are not going to make me wear zip-off trouser-shorts even if they absorb greenhouse gases by the gallon with every step I take (ok, maybe alone in my house. Sure.) People are not going to buy clothes just because they are “sustainable”. People are going to buy into a label because it’s stylish plus sustainable, not the other way around, because at the end of the day, most of us wear clothes because we want to look like the image of ourselves in our heads. The look wins.

 

"It is not about making sustainability stylish, it is about making stylish sustainable."

That’s why creating a successful, stylish fashion business takes a village. While everyone within the company from the Creative Director to the CEO should learn and care about sustainability, the creative team needs to do what they are best at doing — being creative, while business leadership needs to do continued research and establish guidelines and systems of manufacturing, sourcing and operations that the creative vision is executed within, such as banning of certain materials or switching of dyeing methods. 


My mother is an architect who works with the government on designing and building public housing in Hong Kong, and they often have a very limited budget, yet I have never once heard her complain about it. She used to say: creativity is about doing the best you could within given limitations. She never saw them as limitations — why waste time focusing on the edges of a canvas when you could make magic within it? Especially in regards to the topic at hand — when painting outside those edges means making our planet sick or not being nice to people who made the colors you paint with.

Dolce & Gabbana’s design legacy is undeniable — Gabbana lasts, but continued pressure still needs to be placed on the business to do better. Way better.

 

(All images cred: Dolce & Gabbana)

 

 

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