LONDON – Amid the ongoing global pandemic, climate crisis and social unrest, today’s fashion labels are not only encouraged but expected, reacting to global issues and using the their platform to promote more products.
To do that – and make sure they stay relevant – brands have started working with green, humanitarian and gender activist groups.
Exhibitions, events, retail and big business may still be disrupted by the guerrilla tactics of climate campaigners, but the same activists are being welcome in luxury homes – to walk the runway, appear in campaigns and advertise the cause on a wide range of brands followed by platforms.
Greta Thunberg appeared on the first cover of Vogue Scandinavia in August; Stella McCartney invited Extinction Rebellion members to join her fall 2019 campaign, and poet and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal narrated a poem for Vivienne Westwood’s recent film About Days. The earth.
Black Lives Matter activist and campaigner Janaya Khan walked the Gucci Love Parade in Los Angeles while a group of new content creators who used their platform to educate on climate change, human rights or gender mobility, are striking with an increasing number of brand deals.
This marriage of fashion and activism will reach new heights in 2022 as consumers, investors and policymakers increasingly pay attention to how companies plan to perform. all the sustainability and equity commitments they’ve made throughout the pandemic.
“2021 is the year many fashion brands talk about change, and 2022 needs to be the year they deliver on those promises and commitments. They will need to consider how they deliver to investors, while also considering the robustness and speed of their road map. Anita Balchandani of McKinsey & Co.
For brands, there’s a clear advantage in rewriting the rulebook and letting activists who often boycott – or show off – into their world. It keeps brands relevant to the current environment, allowing them to keep up with the expectations of a younger generation of consumers – and gain new perspectives.
“I think 2022 will be the year that dialogue between industries will accelerate. There are areas and industries that are light years ahead of fashion, and the fashion industry can learn a lot from that. Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder and managing director at Positive Luxury, said: “Real collaboration and learning won’t come from creating another coalition, accord or other manifesto – but from groups. work actively together to invest in innovation pilots”.
However, if a brand fails to do its due diligence, working with sustainability-minded celebrity ambassadors, activists or content creators can lead to accusations. forced wash.
This started happening in 2021 with the TV show “The Activist,” which will air on CBS in the US in the fall. In the show, six activists compete for attention on different social media causes and are judged by celebrities Julianne Hough, Usher and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
It has received a lot of backlash for being “effective” and its format is now set to “reimagined”.
Additionally, asking an activist to participate in a campaign or cover photo session does not automatically make brands or the media more environmentally conscious, or exempt them from whitewashing. draw.
Revealing her much-talked-about Vogue cover, Thunberg also criticized the fashion industry, highlighting the fine line these figures need to take when entering the fashion industry while acknowledging the actions they’ve taken. his wrongdoing.
Thunberg writes: “The fashion industry makes a huge contribution to the climate and ecological emergency, not to mention its impact on countless exploited workers and communities around the world. so that some people can enjoy fast fashion that many consider disposable. on her Twitter account, while sharing an image of her Vogue cover.
Venetia La Manna, a content creator using the Instagram platform with 148,000 followers and a popular podcast to talk about garment workers’ rights and sustainable consumption, believes brands need to make changes honest about how they work, “and we need laws to make sure they don’t get tainted.”
Over the last year, La Manna has worked with companies like Ren Skincare, Vestiaire Collective, lingerie brands Stripe and Stare, and eyewear brands Jimmy Fairly – and she says there’s always a vetting process when choosing Choose your partner.
“From a creator’s perspective, you just really have to do your research and due diligence. If it feels uncomfortable, it probably is,” she said.
“When it comes to partnering with sustainable fashion brands, they have to tick a variety of criteria: the people who produce their clothes need to be paid a fair living wage and be allowed to incorporate, The brand itself needs to be inclusive, both in terms of scale. and the models they use.
“They also need a diversity policy, both internally and in terms of the influencers they work with, and they need to produce their clothes in small batches, focusing on the types of materials they use. use. If they’re a big brand with a billionaire executive producing hundreds of thousands of items of clothing a year, it’s hard, “no,” she said.
Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consulting firm Eco-Age, added that it was “a must-have” for fashion brands to welcome activist voices into their world, but they no longer have try to control the whole story.
“The old testimonial is gone, and it is often very insincere. It’s more about [brands] ask ‘Can you help me?’ and less about ‘Can I pay you to wear this?’ Inclusion has to be about hearing these voices and learning from them,” she said.
“It’s also entirely possible to work together. If I think about the work we’ve done with Eco-Age over the years, we’ve always been honest about what went wrong, but also embraced the brand and worked on it. Change must be a two-way street – but honesty must be at the heart of it from both sides.”
Verde Nieto added that by 2022, branding should also take the form of more personal branding initiatives beyond tapping into matching sides.
“Sometimes when we talk about brand activity, we assume that brands need to work with activists. But in 2022, brand activism is about using the power behind a brand to benefit the communities – or audiences – affected by the brand. For example, they could choose to go plastic-free and raise awareness of why they made that decision, or go palm oil-free and commit to raising awareness of why conservation. Protecting tropical forests is important. When a brand decides to put their strength into a topic that is important to them, they can then look for people or organizations that share their goals,” she explains.
“Brand activism is a powerful marketing tool because more and more consumers expect brands to do it, but it needs to be a brand strategy: an action plan invested in it. long-term rather than just a statement of commitment.”
https://wwd.com/sustainability/business/fashion-looks-forge-closer-ties-human-rights-green-activists-1235024619/ Fashion Looks to Forge Closer Ties With Human Rights, Green Activists – WWD