Extinction Rebellion call on fashion to transform our culture of consumption and destruction

Email: press@risingup.org.uk, hello@fashionactnow.org
Phone: Sara Arnold (07846202269), Alice Wilby (07941838703), Bel Jacobs (07876636244)
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#FashionActNow #ExtinctionRebellion #ActNow

  • Extinction Rebellion has released an open letter, in video form, that challenges fashion to “transform our culture of consumption and destruction”
  • The letter quotes Stella McCartney, Virgil Abloh, Alessandro Michele and more
  • This marks the launch of a new campaign by Extinction Rebellion called Fashion Act Now which wants the industry to work fast enough in its role to mitigate climate and ecological breakdown 
  • Fashion Act Now is supported by Remake; Clare Press; Global Fashion Exchange; Lucy Siegle, Journalist; Tamsin Lejeune, CEO and founder of Common Objective; Safia Minney MBE FRSA and more
  • The letter is voiced by Tori Tsui, intersectional climate activist, educator and mental health advocate

Extinction Rebellion activists, as part of Fashion Act Now, have composed an open letter, in video form, to the fashion industry which says the industry’s own words of radical change back to them – these are quotes spoken by leading industry figures during Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The letter speaks to Fashion at a crossroad: do we carry on the way we are and destroy nature or reimagine fashion as a regenerative system that puts the planet first?

The film is shot on woodland that is recovering from a forest fire with new green shoots pushing through charred wood. The images laid over reference the strain fashion is putting on nature and the fragility of the entire system.

Released during Paris Fashion Week, this is part of an ongoing call from Extinction Rebellion for a cancellation of the Fashion Week format and its culture of newness and excess which has no place in this environmental emergency. Extinction Rebellion have led protests at London Fashion Week since February 2019. 

Environmental campaigners have also chimed in by saying their favourite quotes from the letter to camera with the hashtag #FashionActNow. The letter additionally calls on citizens to hold the fashion industry to account. 

“This is not about the environmental record of those quoted in our letter but their massive cultural influence. The fashion and luxury sectors promote resource and carbon heavy lifestyles, elitism and exclusion. Creative directors of luxury brands have influence over the wealthiest people in the world. The 10% wealthiest, those earning $35,000 a year, are responsible for more than 52% of our global carbon footprint; and the wealthiest 1%, those earning $100,000 a year, contribute double the footprint of the 50% least wealthiest. 

We are in a crisis of the environment but also of culture, politics and economics. It’s beyond time for change and our industry knows it,” says Clare Farrell, one of the activists behind the Fashion Act Now campaign.

The letter quotes Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council; Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear; Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director of Balmain; Stella McCartney; Marc Jacobs; Paul Dillinger, Vice President, Head of Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co; Alessandro Michele, Creative Director of Gucci; and Anthony Vaccarello, Creative Director of Saint Laurent. 

Whilst Stella McCartney has been a pioneer in sustainable fashion, actively driving change across the industry, the quotes in this letter demonstrate that lockdown has been a turning point for many other brands to get on board or review pledges. In 2020, notable figures have expressed grievances about the fashion week format: Gucci has made moves towards seasonless fashion; Saint Laurent is also following its own calendar; Dries Van Noten has led a group of brands and retailers that call for a reformatting of the fashion system. 

But an elephant in the room remains: the desire for conspicuous consumption. The fashion industry remains one of the most polluting and wasteful industries. With fashion consumption predicted to grow by 63% over the next decade, the efforts to make the industry sustainable could be far outweighed. The Global Fashion Agenda recently reported that on its current path, the fashion industry will miss its 2030 emissions targets by 50%. Despite talks of circularity, the fashion industry is almost totally reliant on virgin resources, with less than 1% of clothing recycled into new. The fashion industry is reliant on fossil fuels with 60% of clothing made from plastic.  

We want people to remember what was said during this time of reflection. This is a call for the industry, one meant to be so in touch with zeitgeist, to use their creativity to galvanise fashion’s full potential to save life on Earth,says Sara Arnold, from the Fashion Act Now team.   

The Film

The film is directed by Tessa Edwards and Kailash Bharti.

The film’s voice over is by Tori Tsui, an intersectional climate activist and educator and mental health advocate who last year was featured in Stella McCartney’s campaign. Tsui supports the campaign saying, “We need a global awareness of the impact that fashion has, not only on our physical environments, but also people. It is no surprise that the same systems that lead to over consumption and environmental degradation are the same ones that further subjugate and exploit marginalised people.” 

Film Credits: Filmed, directed and edited by Tessa Edwards and Kailash Bharti; Sound by Kailash Bharti; Voice over by Tori Tsui; Additional footage by Tonn Poorter.

Stills Credits: As Above

Fashion Act Now

Fashion Act Now is on a mission to co-create a roadmap for a real crisis response from the fashion industry. They aim to play a role in keeping global heating safely below 1.5C whilst prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable. This roadmap will be presented in a summit next year and will mobilise activists to hold the fashion industry to account. Not beholden to profits, shareholders and political structures, they have a unique opportunity to think beyond our current economic systems and business models.

Fashion Act Now’s catalyser team includes: Remake; Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan; Clare Press; Global Fashion Exchange; Lilian Liu, sustainability strategist at Futerra; Lucy Siegle, journalist; The Sustainable Angle; Tamsin Lejeune, CEO and founder of Common Objective; Dilys Williams FRSA, Director of Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a University of the Arts Research Centre; Traid; Safia Minney MBE FRSA, Founder of REAL Sustainability; Faith Robinson, Consultant; Alec Leach, Future Dust; BiG Innovation; The sustainable Angle.

Other fashion activities within Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion has a record of challenging the fashion industry. Its Boycott Fashion campaign brought about a much needed discourse around consumption. An Extinction Rebellion group called XR Fashion Action have recently protested at H&M to highlight the injustice in the fashion industry and attempts at greenwashing. They also called for the fashion press to stop supporting exploitative practices within the fashion industry and use their influence responsibly. 

ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook 

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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