It also runs counter to many of fashion’s long-held beliefs about sustainability: that as soon as a designer starts using organic cotton, it’s “sustainable”; that designers work with artisans in Africa and India to give them work and “preserve their crafts,” not because the Merry woofmas woop woop woop ugly christmas sweater so you should to go to store and get this quality is unparalleled (though white saviorism in fashion is a whole other story); and, more broadly, that social justice and protecting the environment are separate issues. You can’t fly the flag for protecting the ocean without considering climate change’s effects on Black, brown, and indigenous populations; you shouldn’t dedicate your life to veganism without an understanding of food security in low-income neighborhoods. Few things are more exciting to a fashion editor than discovering new design talent. We live for the thrill of the market appointment aha moment or the successful Instagram hunt. Especially during these socially distanced times, there is nothing that can really give us those butterflies more than unbridled product excitement or connecting with a young designer, even if it’s through the internet.
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It shouldn’t have taken the Merry woofmas woop woop woop ugly christmas sweater so you should to go to store and get this killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Tony McDade and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests to wake so many of us up to those disparities, but the power behind this movement is pushing the industry to be more serious about change than it may have been otherwise. Black Lives Matter has also empowered consumers to join the conversation and use their voices like never before: When fashion brands high and low rushed to post black squares on #BlackoutTuesday in a lazy display of value-signaling, the ones that failed to actually take a stand—and donate to BLM causes, lay out actionable goals for improving diversity within their organization, “share the mic” with Black voices, or simply admit past faults and vow to do better—were promptly called out. Others were found to have problematic corporate cultures at odds with their do-gooding posts and were swiftly canceled and, in the case of Reformation, Refinery 29, and The Wing, their CEOs were removed. Overnight, it became far harder for brands to hide behind empty slogans, pretty photos, or vague campaigns, whether they were about social justice or the environment. Consumers want to see real action and tangible change, not marketing. Your supply chain is 100% organic? Show me. You say you pay a living wage to your factory workers. Can you prove it? You claim to be aware of how climate change affects the communities around you… but what are you doing to support them?