18 Jul 2022

Facing the Climate Crisis

Dana Thomas and Arizona Muse

It was really inspiring to hear from Arizona Muse, fashion model and environmentalist, and Dana Thomas, fashion journalist, author and contributing European sustainability editor at British Vogue. Both women are really passionate about sustainable fashion and actively play an important role in leading others to be more conscientious.


Dana Thomas began working at the Washington Post 35 years ago with dreams of becoming a White House correspondent but ended up in the style section. Ironically she had been in the fashion industry as a model when she was younger, and thought she left it all behind, when studying journalism at university with the ambition of becoming a political reporter.


Nonetheless, she ended up covering fashion and has already written three books about it, the latest one focusing on sustainability, “Fashionpolis, the Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes”. It presents a strong statement about the impact of fashion and globalisation on the planet and humanity, backed up with alarming data.


Arizona Muse has been a model for 12 years and graced the covers of some of the world’s most renowned fashion magazines and walked on the catwalk of many luxury brands. She started questioning where the clothes she was helping to sell as a model came from, and this led her to do more and more research about it on Google, YouTube and books.


“Go to YouTube, you will see some things that will shock you and make you wonder about the clothes you wear and where did they come from. What am I contributing to just by wearing the clothes is such a good question to ask yourself every time you buy something.”


She kept getting back to farmers, as they grow everything for us. Everything that is not synthetic, but over 60% of fabrics are actually polyester, which is made out of petroleum, a non-renewable resource.


Dana Thomas mentions that the problem started here in the UK with the industrial revolution in Manchester, which was taking cotton from all over the world. This was the beginning of globalisation, bringing it into Manchester to be woven into cloth, which was then used for clothing and home décor.


“It was a bad model from day one. It exploited women and children, it was polluting, they were dumping in the rivers, and it was all about enriching the owners of the factories and impoverishing everyone else. And this system has existed ever since in fashion.”


The young generation is now taking the old model, pre-industrial revolution. Slow fashion is all about going back to the way things were done before. Thomas mentions a wine farm in France where they plough the field with horses, while using technology to their advantage by selling on the internet.


In fashion this could translate into making all our clothes compostable, made of natural materials and dyed in a non-toxic way. But the most impressive is the approach taken by native American Indians who before making a decision would consider how it would impact the future, not in terms of a couple of years or decades, but in terms of seven generations from then onwards.


Dana Thomas observed that if the world at large would be this conscientious, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re finding ourselves in, facing a climate crisis and rethinking our current business models. You can listen to The Green Dream, her podcast about pushing the sustainability agenda forward. 


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