MANUFACTURE NY: 1st Sustainable Textile Summit

On the chilly morning of November 9th, a conference room filled to the brim with artists, designers, and makers embarked on an important conversation: sustainability in fashion + textiles. I settled down into my seat only to discover that I sat next to the mother of the keynote speaker, Rhett Godfrey – Sustainability Director of Loomstate, whom smiled and took a copious amount of pictures of her son during his talk.

I sat there as Bob Bland, the CEO + Founder of Manufacture New York welcomed all of us – designers, artists, and leaders of the sustainability movement.

I never thought about sustainability much. I mean, we are taught to consume and put money into the economy (which is good of course), but we only ever focus on the end product. Where did your sweater come from? Who made your shirt or your shoes? We don’t think about these things…we don’t have to think about these things. Yet, when terrifyingly tragic incidents occur, like the ones in Bangladesh, we are forced to think about what it means to live sustainably. The point of this summit is to bring together a collective of likeminded people – designers and artists whom share a common passion for textiles + fashion, while also treating the industry + those who create our wares with the respect they deserve, like the artisans they are.

If the Bangladesh incidents happened in the US, we wouldn’t let that go down without a fight, so why do we sit here content with ourselves as they happen across the ocean? Our culture of consumerism was created by us, we created the “need” for Walmart and “fast-fashion” but it’s time we stop. It’s time to take that last shred of fast-fashion and throw it out with yesterday’s news. Every day there are people who are pushing to make the fashion industry catch up with the ideals of other industries, like food. If you think about it, if eating organic is important to you, then shouldn’t wearing organic matter? Shouldn’t we be supporting labels and companies who put more money into their workers and villages where warehouses are located rather than CEO pockets? Currently, even H&M is reviewing what they can do to raise wages for textile workers in Bangladesh and in technology news, Apple is pushing for Made in America with their new Mac Pro model…now it’s time for others to follow suit.

After the speakers and panelist discussions, we were invited back to Manufacture NY’s space for drinks, networking, and small workshops. Textile Arts Center was there to teach folks about natural dyeing with indigo!

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Our very good friend (and a current Resident Artist) Zaida of BALMASEDA was there to meet and greet folks, sharing her fantastic pieces!

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It was such a great event; there were tons of people there with one common goal: uniting small labels + designers who are pushing the envelope of sustainability and fashion. I cannot wait to see what happens in the future with these summits and what Manufacture New York has in store.

Do you have any thoughts of ideas of how we could move towards a more sustainable fashion industry? Leave a comment below!

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