April 13, 2020 – By Serina Tatham
Around the world we’re all being tested on a new level, and being confined to your home isn’t always easy. But what better way to spend your new-found time than to challenge yourself and engage with your wardrobe differently?
Slowly but surely the game is changing, with new voices like that of Greta Thunberg’s making the climate crisis louder and more visible. Gone are the days when changing a lightbulb or walking instead of driving to work were the options presented to individuals, as sustainable calls to action are being championed in every aspect of day-to-day life.
The appeal of fast fashion and society’s obsession with newness is something hard to escape. Calls from groups like Extinction Rebellion to large fashion houses to break this cycle and stop promoting endless buying, coupled with boycotting fashion shows, made the link between the fashion industry and global warming clearer than ever.
But, if there’s one thing that has the possibility of inspiring real change right at the core of the fashion industry, it’s the Vogue YOOX Challenge.
Launched in 2000, YOOX it’s one of the leading online stores for fashion and artistic interior pieces. Selling products from top designers, it also launches exclusive and exciting collaborations.
Vogue Italia, on the other hand, we’re assuming needs no introduction.
Launched in February, the challenge aims to inspire those eager to disrupt the fast and often damaging flow of the fashion industry. Through coming up with environmentally and socially conscious initiatives, applicants are invited to unpick and re-imagine every aspect of the chain.
The winner, announced in February 2021 during Milan Fashion Week, will receive €50,000 and an editorial piece in Vogue Italia, as well as a 12-month mentoring programme to help them develop the project and bring their ideas to life.
By joining those calling for sustainability, YOOX and Vogue Italia will create a domino reaction, with more brands and institutions also turning their attention to the issue. Eventually, the fashion industry will be forced to catch up.
Vogue is not just any old magazine: it’s an icon, an institution. So, when Emanuele Farneti, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, said he wanted to bring about ‘real disruption in our industry’, you know the problem must be serious. What problem? Climate change. The fashion industry isn’t often what springs to mind when thinking about this, but the facts are hard to ignore.
The fashion industry is thirsty: producing enough cotton to make just one t-shirt takes 2,700 litres of water. On top of this the intense cotton-picking can lead to deforestation, with dyes polluting the water. Once the clothes are bought, the devastating impact continues. In the UK alone we send £140 million worth of used but wearable clothing to landfill each year.
Shocked? Us too. When thinking about ethical fashion the focus tends to be on either the social impact or the materials used, but the Vogue YOOX Challenge has got the right idea. By focusing on making conscious choices at every level they hold everyone accountable.
As well as the environmental impact, it’s important not to forget about the people. The 24th April marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, with this being commemorated by Fashion Revolution Week. Aiming to transform the fashion industry and inspire more sustainable practises, Fashion Revolution wants to get people asking the question: #whomademyclothes?
On 24 April 2013 a building housing five clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh, with over 1,100 people losing their lives. Supplying the biggest global fashion brands, this tragedy opened up people’s eyes to the true human cost of their clothes.
Believing brands aren’t taking enough responsibility – as this event made clear – Fashion Revolution wants to encourage more transparency and accountability.
But there is hope.
In 2020 alone, there has been great progress. Sustainable fashion is no longer a niche but something designers are introducing into their initiatives. Take Burberry, for example, whose A/W 2020 fashion show was entirely carbon-neutral.
Or, look at Copenhagen Fashion Week, which introduced ethical and sustainable requirement. As well as this, their goal is to be zero waste by 2023, meaning that designers will have to get on board with this too, or else risk exclusion.
Also changing the face of the fashion industry is the coronavirus pandemic. With social distancing restricting movement, fashion weeks have turned digital, eliminating the need for travel and reducing emissions.
Each category in the Vogue YOOX Challenge gives the opportunity to re-work a flawed system. By looking at the fashion industry through new angles, they can come up with ways to tackle these overwhelming statistics.
This all-encompassing challenge encourages talent to think broadly about the industry, increasing the likelihood that future brands will adopt this method of thinking.
The more attention big corporations like YOOX and Vogue place on sustainability, the quicker the industry will follow. It is only by doing this and inspiring the next generation of talent to be committed to being socially and environmentally responsible that real change can occur.
Feeling inspired? You’ve got until the 3rd July 2020 to apply. Applications are open to anyone, provided you’re a registered fashion brand, a social enterprise, or a tech start-up. Don’t quite fit the bill? Join the fashion revolution and start asking #whomademyclothes? More info on the challenge, as well as the application form, can be found here.
We’re looking forward to seeing how the fashion industry is shaped by the new world we live in.