Fashion is tethered to consumerism. For this reason, there’s something increasingly suspect about sustainable fashion. Although brands and consumers alike are making progress toward a more endurable future, there persists an underlying problem that is yet to receive the complete attention of the fashion industry – the system itself.
This introductory article lays the foundations for a three-part interview series Fashion Unlearned, which explores how we might re-design the fashion system for sustainability. Since clothing brands and industry insiders usually dominate discussion about sustainability in the media, I’ve chosen to spotlight three individuals who are transgressing the boundaries of what fashion could be. For this series, I speak with Orsola de Castro, co-founding director of Fashion Revolution; Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at The New School at Parsons; and Otto von Busch, Associate Professor of Integrated Design at The New School at Parsons. As practitioners, they each express strong political agendas through their creative work, research, and critique of the fashion industry’s indifference toward systemic change. Education, citizen agency, and consumer capitalism are central themes discussed in my conversations with them alongside ideas specific to their respective projects. Despite differences in how Orsola, Timo, and Otto challenge the status quo of mainstream fashion, they share a common pursuit: how might we reimagine the failures of the fashion system as opportunities to create a better world?