OPINION: The red carpet turns green

Photo credit: Hattie Doolittle

In high fashion, well-known designers and brands have been teaming up with celebrities to form the Green Carpet Challenge to spread awareness about sustainability, ethics and social welfare in fashion at high profile events. Valentino, Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani and Alberta Ferretti, to name a few, are some of the designers collaborating with celebrities like Emma Watson and Colin Firth to make the challenge possible.

One strategic step celebrities are making to make society more aware of sustainability in fashion is by posting their “green” outfits on the red carpet and why they’re considered ethical on Instagram.

Maddy Colbert, senior in apparel and textiles marketing, said she thinks that using celebrities in a positive way will be very impactful to the industry.

“Hopefully this will spark a fire in consumers to want to follow this trend as well and additionally raise awareness for a serious issue,” Colbert said. “A change in the way we consume isn’t going to be an easy fix, but the first step is to help consumers become more aware of what is happening in the apparel industry and the consequences it is having on people, animals and the environment.”

A Feb. 9 article from Eco Age detailed that Sergio Rossi launched the world’s first Green Carpet Collection of evening shoes and accessories. The shoes are made of organic silk that is spun, dyed and woven in Italy. This move by Rossi was the first silk to be awarded the Green Carpet Challenge Brandmark, according to the article. The Swarovski crystals decorating the shoes are said to be lead-free, the leather is chrome-free and the wooden frame of the matching pochette accessories are FSC certified.

Kat Zoschke, senior in apparel and textile design, said she believes sustainability in the fashion industry is crucial.

“Fashion is so much bigger than the latest trends and designer names,” Zoschke said. “Fashion affects the world and its people. Eighty-two percent of rivers in China cannot be used for drinking or fishing because of the poor disposal of chemical dyes. There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today – the apparel industry being the second largest industry using slave labor. If we, as millennials, want to actually see the change that we boast about our generation being able to make, then we need to rethink our choices and the companies we support.”

Becoming aware of what clothes you put on every morning is meaningful to the environment, and it is even more important to the speed at which fashion moves. Fast fashion is prevalent in our society more today than ever before. This includes companies who decide to produce textiles at a quicker and cheaper pace using unethical alternatives, which usually leads to a buildup of unwanted waste, all while copying designs on high-end designers in the process.

According to a March 25 article titled “The Neurological Pleasures of Fast Fashion,” published in The Atlantic, “about 10.5 million tons of clothes end up in American landfills each year, and secondhand stores receive so much excess clothing that they only resell about 20 percent of it.”

Holly Audiss, junior in marketing and entrepreneurship, said she disagreed with the companies that produce fast fashion.

“I think that fast fashion decreases the value of the higher quality clothing and causes people to be less likely to buy designer brands,” Audiss said.

It’s natural that everyone wants the latest trends and the cheapest prices, but it’s unnatural when garments are being automatically marked down with no intention of going on sale. Clothing brands should choose to make the right choices when it comes to sustainability for the sake of our environment and the health of our consumers. Excess buying of cheap clothing that people will only wear a couple of times is something that should be put to an end. It also dissolves the fine line in consumer’s minds of what they want and what they actually need.

With the help of celebrities and the influence of positive social media, hopefully we can slow down the unusual pace of fashion just a little and spread awareness of sustainability in fashion.

Hattie Doolittle is a junior in apparel and textiles.