“Every purchase is a moral act” is one of the sentences that has impressed me the most of the book that Marina Spadafora, ‘the designer of the revolutions’ as I had defined her in the title of the monthly interview made two years ago, wrote with the journalist Luisa Ciuni.
“La rivoluzione comincia dal tuo armadio. Tutto quello che non vi hanno mai detto sulla moda sostenibile” (““The revolution starts from your closet. Everything they never told you about sustainable fashion”) released in mid-May for Solferino editions, engaged Spadafora and Ciuni in an excursus on what we mean when we talk about ‘sustainable fashion’ but without omitting, on the contrary, clearly reiterating that the true affirmation of a fairer and more just system in the fashion sector cannot fail to pass through our purchasing choices and therefore each of us has the responsibility of spreading or not a certain type of mentality.
I therefore talk willingly again with Marina Spadafora, concentrating the interview on the book and I thank Orsola de Castro who, ‘nominating’ Marina last month, has given me the opportunity to deal with her with some of the topics that are today more relevant than ever, with the post-Covid crisis going on.
How did the idea of the book and the collaboration with Luisa Ciuni come about?
Luisa and I have known each other since the days when I showcased my collections on the catwalks of Milan fashion week; we have become friends over the years and we both have a passion for the sustainable change in the fashion industry. Luisa is already the author of many books but for me it was the first time. We decided that an Italian essay was needed, that would give the interested people a clear picture of the current state of fashion and practical advice on how to be agents of positive transformation.
The book came out during the so-called phase 2 but was written in late 2019, if I’m not mistaken; in hindsight, after the tragic events linked to Covid, is there something that you would perhaps have stressed and / or added more, also in light of the changes that are affecting the whole fashion sector?
In recent months I have often dealt with the topic in interviews and webinars; I believe that the opportunity for change must be seized in the crisis. We all stayed at home and had time to reflect, so I hope that many people have understood that continuing to behave rashly and superficially can only lead to environmental and social catastrophe. We can all change our habits and influence the change of paradigm and consequently of the entire system.
The book talks of Italy as one of the most virtuous countries, especially in the production of sustainable yarns and fabrics, and cited the production districts of Prato and Biella. Recently, interviewing Niccolò Cipriani, founder of Rifò, a Prato brand of clothing and accessories in regenerated materials, a technical limit emerged linked to the fact that old garments to be recycled are still considered by law as waste and therefore more taxed. Could there therefore also be a political problem behind the slowness of the diffusion of a certain type of production in our country?
I have been contacted by a senator who works for the environment and territory commission and I am in the process of presenting a reform of the law that deals with recycling and the ‘end of life’ of the used garments to facilitate their reuse. Adequate laws are needed to regulate textiles and Fashion Revolution, together with 60 other non-governmental associations, has submitted a bill to the European Parliament called ‘Fair and Sustainable Textiles’.
This is an excellent news. The book stresses the need to “preserve a band of clothes and accessories that has low costs in favor of the poorer groups”. What could be the ways to make ethical fashion more ‘democratic’ and accessible?
The sore point in the supply chain is always the wages received by workers in developing countries, where the production of fast fashion is concentrated. By paying the equivalent of a decent wage, there would be a surcharge on the items produced. My proposal is that companies absorb, if not in full but at least in part, this surcharge in order not to put these costs on the shoulders of consumers.
In the chapter dedicated to child labor and modern slavery you highlight how difficult it is still to trace the wages of workers in third countries and in general their working conditions. So a brand can be ‘transparent’ on certain policies but obscure on others. What can we consumers do to avoid falling into the trap of the so-called ‘green washing’?
We need to do research on the Internet to better understand what brands do. There are excellent tools such as the ‘Good on you’ app or the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index. On the Italian website of Fashion Revolution we have published the digital map of green shopping in Italy, a precious tool for being able to find your way in this world of sustainable fashion.
If “every purchase is a moral act”, which I agree on, the consumer consequently has a moral responsibility which, if not already present, can be taught and ‘cultivated’. Does sustainability education also pass through school?
As I say in the book, “every time we buy something, we vote for the world we want”. Our money is a powerful means of encouragement and / or dissuasion, through informed choices we can create critical mass and stop financing those who exploit and pollute.
Here we are at the end, sorry if I have gone on with the questions but the book gives birth to many. Like the other time, once again I ask you for the nomination of the next guest (last time you named Matteo Ward).
For me it’s still him!
Ok, so we are happy to hear from Matteo Ward again too, so he tells us about the development of his brand over the past two years. Thanks Marina.