Words by Brian Lee

You only need to take a brief look at the history of fashion to see that fashion trends come and go.

Broad shoulder pads came… and went
Hawaiian shirts came… and went
Ed Hardy came… and thankfully like everything else, they went.
Onesies came… and are hanging around a bit too long, but I am optimistic they too will go.

You may wonder how any of the above could have come into fashion in the first place, oh but I assure you, there really was a time when you weren’t considered cool unless your Hawaiian shirt could scream louder than the guy next to you. I must admit that somewhere buried deep in the burrows of my wardrobe lies a forgotten Hawaiian shirt or two… or three.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with these trends because they are simply an evolution of culture and art as expressed through fashion (though I must admit that it seems like trends are coming and going much faster than before – I’ll leave that to another post), but going into this industry demands that I examine my own philosophy behind starting Thread Harvest. I’ve heard people say, isn’t this whole ‘ethical/sustainable/conscious-consumerism’ fashion just a trend in itself? Like the shoulder pads, Hawaiian shirts and Ed Hardy, isn’t it destined to fade into distant memory and make way for the next trend? I think these are important questions to ask and answer honestly.

After wrestling with the issue, I believe that there are 3 important things that distinguish what I like to call impact fashion (fashion that promotes and generates positive social & environmental impact) from most other fashion trends.

  1. Your values – your judgment of what is important in life

Your values should not shift and change capriciously, nor should they just follow the latest trends. Your values go deeper than that. Impact fashion is based simply on a set of values that says “what I wear should not be at the expense of others or the environment, but instead should be good for others and the environment”. It goes beyond aesthetics, function and form, but taps into who you are and what you stand for. Therefore, if you begin to buy what you believe in and what reflects your values, then impact fashion will be an undercurrent that withstands passing trends.

  1. The state of the fashion industry

The reality of the clothing industry as it presently exists is not all it’s made out to be. Socially, economically and environmentally… there are breakdowns throughout the fashion industry and technology means we are more privy to the issues than ever before.

These issues will have to be addressed sooner or later as the industry becomes increasingly unsustainable. (Of course, the way that fashion is often presented will have you think otherwise). It’s not something that can be solved just by moving to the next season, or with a bit of window-dressing.

As long as the problem exists, there will exist the need for a better alternative. The industry can be changed through a sustained commitment to impact fashion. The fact that there are great labels doing great things in very real ways is a good sign of things to come. These labels impact all sorts of areas from treating our natural resources with care to empowering workers through meaningful work that pays fairly and treats them as fellow citizens.

  1. Lives changed

There is scarcely anything more powerful than seeing lives radically transformed and improved, especially through your actions, and the collective action of many like-minded individuals. It is addictive and it is contagious. The number one reason that impact fashion will not be a passing trend like so many before it, is because of the power to transform lives, empashion is more than a trend and will be here to stay…
…so if God forbid, Hawaiian shirts ever come back, may they all be made ethically and sustainably.

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