We need to create a more sustainable fashion industry, in which Earth’s survival comes before economic growth. This in the main idea in the project Earth Logic. The initiators are Mathilda Tham, professor of design at Linnaeus University, and Kate Fletcher, professor of sustainability design and fashion at University of Arts, London.
We had a chat with Mathilda Tham who told us more about the project.
What is the Earth Logic project?
Earth Logic is a plan and call to action for the fashion industry, to put Earth’s survival before profit. We propose Earth Logic, that is to say the logic of our planet, which can replace the logic behind economic growth. We have carried out a number of workshops in Great Britain and online, and are now preparing more projects to spread our ideas. Already at this point, our material is being used as course literature on fashion programmes internationally and is distributed among fashion companies and journalists.
What is the problem with the fashion industry today?
The problem is that fashion is driven by growth, constantly increasing volumes and lower prices. And this is achieved at the expense of the planet and the health of those who manufacture the fashion.
What do you mean by “Earth first – before profit, before everything”?
If we do not put the planet’s survival before everything else, we will not succeed in the major changeover that the scientific community gives us only a decade to complete. We have talked about these ideas for a long time. Before, people used to tell us that it is illogical to question growth. Now, many people feel that business as usual is illogical. It is not possible to run a fashion company on a dead planet.
Based on Earth Logic, how should we change the way we view fashion?
In all fashion decisions, we should think “how can my organisation’s operations contribute to sustainability, environmental as well as social?” This involves – what is the sustainability case for my operations, instead of what is the business case for sustainability? The Earth Logic plan provides guidelines for this work.
Earth Logic has made it possible for us to reach out with a strategic discussion at paradigm level – that is to say, the logic by which we act. If this logic does not put the well-being of our planet first and reduces the scale of fashion, gains in technological development, etc., will be brought to nothing.
How does the corona crisis affect the fashion industry? Could it result in something positive?
The corona crisis has affected the fashion industry in many ways, not least due to the fact that much of the fashion industry is connected by global supply chains. Sales have gone down dramatically, transports of material are not arriving, and production has been cancelled, which has resulted in the fact that factories have filed for bankruptcy and a lot of people have become unemployed. These are people who were already living under poor conditions with great responsibility to provide for their families.
This crisis shows how vulnerable the industry is and that it, despite growth focus, does not have any margins. As many people are now staying at home and are able to “manage” without doing any shopping, there is hope that we can come to see less consumption. We must keep in mind, as Greta Thunberg once said, that our normal was a crisis. Thus, we cannot go back to how things were. We must now build a new system that respects the planet’s boundaries and provides good living conditions for all humans and other species.
How can Earth Logic be used?
The Earth Logic plan was published in December 2019 and is available for download on our website. It comprises a map of values that can be used in the planning and evaluation of work. It contains six holistic landscapes, within which you can develop fashion that puts Earth first.
You arranged a digital workshop during Fashion Week Revolution 20–26 April 2020. Tell us more!
At the workshop, we made a sort of travel to the six holistic landscapes for Earth Logic fashion. We met in smaller groups to discuss and generate ideas. We also concretised in actions what we can do at individual and organisational level.
An article on your project in the newspaper The Guardian has been read by 384,000 people in three weeks. How does that feel?
It feels absolutely great that so many people have read it. The focus of the article is to question growth, which must be considered quite radical. We have received response from many different parts of the world, and a lot of questions form journalists, companies, and education providers.