BIG LITTLE IMPACT… Part 3: A Universal Perspective

This piece is the third and last in a series of posts meant to inspire those within the apparel supply chain to commit to sustainability on an individual level. Part 3 focuses on small changes in thinking.

I want to reiterate that each one of us sits within an interconnected network, where one slight movement can vibrate an entire web. Remembering this helps motivate me when I worry that my personal metamorphosis is insignificant. Because we are each important parts of a bigger picture, we indeed have the power as individuals to improve the fashion industry, one simple step at a time.

1. Imagine a different model.
If we are capable of identifying what’s wrong with our industry, then we can also envision one that is better. An alternate route could lead us toward a fashion industry that is restorative instead of polluting, honest instead of corrupt and nurturing rather than exploiting. Instead of letting negative thoughts dominate, imagine a utopic industry. What would that look like to you? What would your workday look like? What would change for your vendor partners and garment workers? How would our natural resources benefit? Think beyond what seems reasonable or achievable. Every big change starts with a clear vision. Without a destination, we move in circles. Establish your ideal for the fashion industry. Then you can take actions toward that vision.

2. Shift from a competitive view to a collaborative view.
Fashion’s history has been built on competition. Whether it’s fabric innovation or emerging trends or celebrity spokes-models, organizations have long compared themselves to their competition—copying each other’s successful designs, business strategies, and vendor matrices while remaining legally protective of their own. This hypocritical approach simply adds negativity to an industry already rife with pessimism. What’s more, it promotes a defensive mindset instead of that which leads with creativity. By banding together with our competitors, all parties benefit—customers, retailers, brands, manufacturers, mills, and farmers. What’s more, the positive impact can span environmental, social, and financial bottom lines.

3. Innovate.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”—R. Buckminster Fuller

The final tool in our evolution in thinking about our industry is innovation. There are so many obsolete aspects of the way the fashion world operates, giving us endless opportunities to innovate. The process of making clothes has changed very little in the better part of the last century. Yet, the world around us has shifted drastically. How can we bring fashion up to speed? What other industries can we look to for inspiration? Simply opening our minds up to new possibilities in our work can bring forth groundbreaking change.

A simple spark can turn dry grass into a wildfire in an instant. We are all able to set the industry ablaze with change if we follow these simple and meaningful steps. We know that fashion, in its current model, is failing. And as Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” We can take part in our next industrial revolution by opening our eyes and our minds to welcome in change.

For the previous pieces from Libby, click here for Part 1 & for Part 2

If you’d like more specifics on why and how to be part of this revolution, please read the book, adDRESSing Change, due out soon.

Title image photography for the Big Little Impact credited to Ross Findon and foliage image by Will Cornfield both at Unsplash

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