The Fulfillment Of The Sustainable Development Goals Through The Fashion Industry.

In September of 2017, I presented a sustainable womenswear collection of six looks in Hong Kong for the Redress Sustainable Design Award. This award, previously known as The Eco-Chic Design Award, is an award competition created by Redress, a Hong Kong-based non-profit organization whose mission since 2007 has been to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry.

The Redress contest challenges new fashion designers to make an exclusive collection using techniques that are environmentally friendly while avoiding textile waste at all cause. I was chosen from a record number of applicants from 46 countries, impressing the international judging panel of industry experts with my waste-reducing design concepts and my inspiration based on the 2030 United Nation‘s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs announced in 2015 by the General Assembly that aim to transform the world combating inequalities, ending poverty and abuse, protecting the planet, and ensuring better living conditions for everybody.

Through my own experience as a sustainable designer and with this collection, I want to spread the message behind my inspiration and the reasons why the fashion industry needs to play an important role in the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Why did I decide to design a collection inspired by the 2030 agenda?

I was attracted by the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals after attending a conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2017. I was invited to be part of a discussion about the role that young people can play in the promotion of these goals. As a fashion and beauty influencer, I have always been very vocal about my choices as a designer, and an online influencer. My readers and followers knew when I became vegan, knew when I discovered sustainability, and are aware of the social issues I stand behind, and my strong belief that the fashion industry needs to play a bigger role in global sustainable change; being this way granted me the opportunity to be invited to the United Nations.

While I was at the UN headquarters listening to inspiring people who are doing an incredible job of spreading and supporting the fulfillment of the SDGs in their communities. However, I noticed a lack of emphasis on incorporating the fashion industry into the Global Agenda. Even when the majority of the problems stated in the 2030 goals are directly or indirectly driven by the fashion industry, there weren't many initiatives involving this industry and I was very surprised. The amount of waste that the fashion industry produces and the lack of awareness and understanding of it is a major concern of mine As a result of these issues, I decided to create a collection that informs and displays the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

My inspiration for this project was centered around the 17 goals that will make the world a "better place" but more importantly, the fact that this information is being shared with the public should make us understand that the only way that we can actually impact the living situation in our time is by involving every single person into the conversation. Without raising awareness and attention to this, we cannot progress.

The world ambassadors, the UN assembly, or even myself (someone who is passionate about sustainable development) are not the ones able to actually bring to fruition the success of these goals in their entirety. The more people realize and understand these global goals, the more people that can demand success for the goals, take action, and change the system to do things right.

The greatest step we can make toward improving our planet is raising awareness and gaining the support of people who are unaware of the 2030 agenda. People who don't read about statistics of the amount of plastic produced, lack of education, gender inequalities, or even know percentages of textile waste in the world; people who don't work at the U.N. or get obsessed by the progress of the Paris agreement; those are the ones who are really going to help us find the balance regarding these issues and the possibility to see our goals through fruition.”

Of course, those directly involved with the SDGs are the ones pushing the goals worldwide, but most people don't share this passion and commitment. Others may just be trying to live a regular life and may have developed a negative mindset about living in a great place.
Probably the biggest challenge is to educate the consumer and break the stereotypes that surround the sustainable fashion industry. I think sustainable fashion is positively challenging the industry in pushing designers and manufacturers to become more innovative and eco-conscious about their design processes.

In my case, I get excited about learning more and more about sustainability every day and would like to be more active in supporting causes that improve our communities. I believe that the right way of attracting people is through popular mediums like apparel. We know the power that the fashion industry has on people. People love clothes, accessories, and are obsessed with trends, modern art and getting involved somehow in social awareness through fashion. We know these things, why are we not using the fashion industry to propel the success of the Global Goals? 
The fashion industry, one of the most powerful industries in the world (a $2.5 trillion-dollar industry) can play an important part in fixing the issues stated in the SDGs. The global goals are ambitious, but not impossible. 

The following goals mentioned below include issues that are byproducts of the damaging behaviors in the fashion industry and I invite you to analyze them with me.

SDG #12 - Sustainable consumption and production is a goal that impacts the industry directly and by emphasizing sustainable business practices and reducing consumerism we can ensure a balance in the production, manufacturing of clothes, conscious water consumption, and alleviated textile waste amounts.

SDG #1 and #8 - No poverty and Decent Work for fashion workers and economic growth for their communities are goals that can be tackled in the fashion industry.

SDG #6 - Clean Water and Sanitation Goal relates to water pollution, hazardous chemicals and materials, and water scarcity.

SDG #13 Climate Change stresses to ‘take stop generating more greenhouse gas emissions while manufacturing clothes.

SDG #14 Life Below Water addresses the issue of marine pollution with plastics, chemicals, and fibers from clothing production.
SDG #15 - Life in Land analyzes the fashion industry with their animal abuse, exploitation of their land, and misuse of the ecosystems.
I can keep explaining how the majority of the SDGs are directly linked to the fashion industry, but I would basically need to address all the 17 goals. We need to listen and face that this industry has the opportunity to increase the engagement of the citizens and accelerate the process of completing the 17 goals.

I am ambitious and passionate about changing the world, but I know that what I know best is designing clothes, sustainable clothes. I know that people share a fixation about trends and clothes and by marrying these goals with fashion, I hope to start building a more sustainable industry for people. With my collection, I wanted to bring attention to the goals by adding common visuals related to the SDGs into wearable colorful, and sustainable pieces

My capsule collection has six looks with a strong contrast of color and symbols (the goals and important motifs that represent the 17 sustainable goals for the year 2030), enhanced through feminine, modern silhouettes that offer a juxtaposition between formal and sportswear; everything under a sustainable design process of 360 degrees. Each look was created with minimal environmental impact and recyclable materials such as discarded yards of fabric samples, end-of-roll fabrics, scraps of fabric, cut-and-sewn remnants, using reconstructing and zero-waste techniques to avoid textile waste.

As an emerging designer, I do my best with what I own right now, finding Fabscraps ( A Textile recycling NGO) two years ago was a vital piece of this puzzle, reading and researching about the scarceness of resources in our world, the animal, and human abuse in the industry were also part of my process designing this collection. I found excellent fabrics and plenty of information online after I decided to use the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as my main theme for the Redress Sustainable Award competition. 

My small contribution to the success of the global goals is definitely by "raising awareness", teaching the goals through clothes that are wearable, modern, carry a valuable message, and were ethically-made. Hopefully, people get more curious about the SDGs after reading the titles of the 17 goals on my clothes, seeing the allusive colors to the SDG,s and learning about the materials used.

Knowing that my designs and my philosophy can motivate people to make better fashion choices and to become involved in the sustainable movement is the best gratification as a designer. It is also really exciting to know and explore new ways to produce sustainable fashion. Making my designs as environmentally- friendly as possible is really empowering and something that I look forward to doing all my life. 

I learned so much during this process and I am grateful that I was able to design a collection inspired by the 2030 Development Goals. I want to keep promoting the SDGs and influencing the fashion industry to keep improving. I hope you join me on my journey as an emerging sustainable designer and advocate. I welcome your feedback and encourage you to see how I merge fashion, sustainability, and global issues together into my clothes. 

To see more about my designs and my collection inspired by the SDGs, please visit my website http://www.linamayorga.com/.

Lina Mayorga


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