Hi there! I am Warda Moosa, a junior in the Apparel design program at the University of Minnesota. This fall semester I had the pleasure of interning with Winsome Goods. Before starting the internship, I set some learning goals for myself to have a better understanding of what I want to achieve while I am there. I had a clear goal of learning how the creative design works at Winsome and what differentiates it from what we do in our classes. I also wanted to learn and understand the business side of their brand. This is one of the reasons I chose to intern at Winsome, because I knew the brand is still small and that they produce everything in-house. As someone who is interested in owning their own business only day this was quite important for me. These past four months have been quite amazing I had the opportunity to learn so much and understand how the design brands work in the real world. This internship also has enabled me to have a greater amount of respect for brands that produce their products in-house as it isn’t an easy task. My capstone project I chose to end my internship with was to research sustainability & Winsome. This project has given me the ability to critically think about sustainability and the role it plays in our community. I wanted to focus on community here, because often sustainability is talked about in the global perspective and some people think it’s a global issue, hence it doesn’t necessary affect a Minnesota resident which is true but in the longer run it can.
If you’ve been hearing about deadstock fabric before but you didn’t know what it means or have never heard it before then this post should clear your confusion. Deadstock is fabric that goes unused by the mill or brand that has fabricated it. Either due to incorrect color that was obtained or due to over production. So, what’s so great about this fabric you may ask? Well, deadstock fabric is often kept out of landfill they would have otherwise ended up at by selling it to designers or fabric stores at discounted rates. Drawbacks? The biggest reason deadstock isn’t quite popular among designers and international brands is scalability. It’s very difficult to scale-up with deadstock fabrics because they are available in very limited quantities.
Fashion revolution is a non-profit that has been one of the many organizations that have formed due to the catastrophic incident that happened five years ago; Rana Plaza. Five years ago, an eight-story building collapsed in Bangladesh which trapped and killed over 1100 people employed by the garment industry. In the face of this calamitous event formed Fashion Revolution. Their mission is to unite people and organizations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Fashion Revolution's Head of Policy, Sarah Ditty to talk about sustainability and where Fashion Revolution is headed to.
Warda Moosa: What are some of Fashion revolutions biggest achievements to date?
Sarah Ditty: Before we formed there were a handful of companies that disclosed where their clothes are manufactured. Now there is over 100 companies that disclose this information to the public. This is an important point because when they publish this information online NGO’s can go and investigate the places they manufacture to ensure correct laws and regulations are followed. We also managed to create the global movement that has sparkled from consumers to retailers to manufactures to designers on #WhoMadeMyClothes. Last year over 2.5 million worldwide were talking about this topic one way or the other be it by starting conservation's in social media, or attending events hosted by us.
WM: Do you think sustainability which a big trend is currently will die soon and make a comeback just like other trends. Or is it here to stay?
SD: No, sustainability is here to stay. Climate change is only accelerating and becoming more visible. We all must come together to work more towards sustainability.
WM: What can we expect from Fashion Revolution in the next coming two years?
SD: We will be publishing the fourth edition annual index magazine which comes out every April. We will be reviewing and ranking 250 apparel brands according to how much information they have disclosed about their social environmental policies and impacts. We will be publishing the white paper which is essentially a review of where the industry has come in the last five years and setting the course for fashion revolution's activities for the next five years. We will be producing a free course on the United Nations sustainable goals. Finally, we’ll be speaking to several experts on environmental sustainability.
You must be wondering by now how this translates to Winsome? Winsome Goods in the early days used to utilize deadstock fabrics, but after growing the brand couldn’t scale-up with deadstock fabrics as they are available in limited quantities. Kathryn, the designer for the brand wanted to know how they brand could potentially start utilizing deadstock again. After my research, I discovered deadstock is truly only one way for brands to pursue sustainability but there are plenty of avenues to pursue sustainability. Winsome can continue utilizing deadstock fabric occasionally in their collections by creating one to two exclusives pieces within the collection that uses completely deadstock, and they can also create one exclusive piece for each season. Like I mentioned above deadstock is only one way to pursue sustainability. There are other sustainable fabrics out there that can be scaled up with like recycled polyester, vegan fabrics like linen, tencel and hemp. There is also innovation happening with-in fabrics. Recently, the leaves of the pineapple plant have recently become one of the most sustainable vegan leather alternatives on the market (goodonyou.eco).
While talking to Sarah Ditty of Fashion Revolution she mentioned an important part about brands being sustainable and that’s sharing their journey with their consumers. I recently, did a research paper on sustainable practices and found out that while there are plenty of sustainable practices out there for consumers and retailers there is a huge lack of awareness in our community. Local brands can start by hosting open studios for consumers to understand the behind the scenes of the garment manufacturing process, partner up with other local brands and host talks about sustainability and the importance it has in our community. The journey towards a better and more sustainable world is long, but we all must commit to it and help one another.