Anne-Ro Klevant Groen from innovative platform Fashion for Good talks about creating a more sustainable fashion ecosystem
For our alternative fashion week takeover, The Gallyry is spotlighting sustainability in the fashion industry, from inspiring creatives and designers, to innovative organisations and brands.
Did you know that on average, we buy 60% more clothes than we did 15 years ago yet we keep each item only half as long? This means that around 60% of the clothes currently getting sold in stores end up being burnt or in a landfill within one year of being made.
In the heart of Amsterdam, there is a sustainable fashion organisation that is trying to tackle these statistics: Fashion for Good. I spoke with Marketing and Communications Director Anne-Ro Klevant Groen about the work she is doing to create a more sustainable fashion ecosystem.
Can you tell us a bit about your role at Fashion for Good?
I am the Marketing and Communications Director at Fashion for Good. My team and I take care of all the publicity surrounding our organisation, as well as the events in our museum, our social media channels, newsletters, reports, and so on.
It’s a very exciting and important role, helping to change the fashion industry so it becomes circular. We aim to change consumer behaviour and share our detailed knowledge about sustainable fashion – which is very much needed!
"We believe that the paradigm shift needed within the industry is only possible when individuals and industry alike are activated for change." – Anne-Ro Klevant Groen
Can you tell me what drives Fashion for Good and how it started?
Fashion for Good was established in March 2017 as a global, collaborative innovation platform to tackle the problems faced by the fashion industry. In order to create true ‘fashion for good’, incremental improvements are not enough – disruptive innovation is needed in the industry.
The good news is we are seeing game changing technologies that can bring real transformation to the fashion industry, offering major leaps towards circularity. However these technologies are not being scaled yet and are often still in the start-up stage. On the other hand, many large corporations (brands and retailers) are increasingly committed to becoming more sustainable. Many have pledged towards circularity and want to adopt these innovations to achieve their ambitions.
This is where we step in. We work directly with the most promising innovators and bring them together with big market players like brands, retailers, and manufacturers. Our goal is to make it easier for them to work together, bringing these game-changing innovations into the mainstream.
We believe that the paradigm shift needed within the industry is only possible when individuals and industry alike are activated for change. Through our building in Amsterdam, we aim to support this. In our co-working space we host a Circular Apparel Community – a community of like-minded organisations and other experts brought together under the same roof. Everyone there is working towards the same mission: making fashion good.
The interactive Fashion for Good Experience is a donation based, public-facing museum where we inspire, educate, and engage people from across the world. Visitors learn about the past, present, and future of the fashion industry. With the digitally enabled Good Fashion Journey and an RFID bracelet, they can discover ways that they can make a difference through their consumption of fashion. At the end, they can take home a personalised Good Fashion Action Plan, a digital guide filled with tips for extending what they have learned through the experience into their daily lives.
"The challenges that the fashion industry is facing are too big for one organisation alone to tackle. This is why we invited the entire apparel industry to join." – Anne-Ro Klevant Groen
What do you think the biggest challenges are for fashion brands aiming to become more sustainable?
The biggest challenge is to move from a linear take-make-waste model into a model that is restorative and regenerative by design. It is beyond just minimising negative impacts in the current linear system, but working towards a “more good, less bad” model where textiles are kept at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy after use. Ideally, textiles would never end up as waste.
The challenges that the fashion industry is facing are too big for one organisation alone to tackle. This is why we invited the entire apparel industry to join, convening brands, producers, retailers, suppliers, non-profits, innovators, and funders – all united in their shared ambition.
A lot of these new innovations can be initially more expensive, which slows down implementation. That’s where cross industry collaboration is key, if a group of brands all participate in a pilot they share the costs and risks. This is where Fashion for Good provides such a unique offering: it enables brands to work collaboratively together in a usually competitive space.
It’s also important that manufacturers and suppliers are involved from the offset as they have a wealth of knowledge and understanding and are also the ones implementing these new technologies. Long term relationships and commitments between brands and manufacturers incentivise them to invest in new more sustainable and innovative processes.
We need radical systemic change to disrupt the fashion industry, but it’s also about changing individuals’ mindsets throughout the industry. We need the entire fashion ecosystem to rethink its approach and way of working.
"We need radical systemic change to disrupt the fashion industry, but it’s also about changing individuals’ mindsets throughout the industry." – Anne-Ro Klevant Groen
How can the average consumer make sure they are shopping ethically and sustainably?
Firstly, it’s important to cherish the pieces you already own and keep them for as long as you can. Once you do decide to go shopping, perhaps try clothes swapping or vintage stores first? If you do end up in a highstreet store (or perusing online), you can check out the app Good on You. This lets you see how the brand you are about to purchase treats our people and planet. It rates brands on a number of different factors such as the impact on their workers and the supply chain, the brands resource use, and disposal and their use of animal products, helping to ensure you can make good decisions about your next purchase.