The Journal

by (re)vision society

Can We All Do Better?

Can We All Do Better?

“Accelerate the advent of sustainable behaviour around the world. Starting with fashion.”

We started with a simple objective which is to contribute to accelerating the adoption of sustainable behaviour. We are starting with the fashion industry for simple reasons, one being that we have relevant backgrounds which allows us to leverage on what we already know and the network we are a part of; another one being that fashion or clothing in a broader sense is universal and as such it touches every person on the planet regardless of where they come from, how wealthy they are, how they obtain their clothes and what they believe in.
Clothing, now more commonly called fashion is a mode of expression human beings deeply value. It’s been around for a while, about 100,000 years. From ancient tribes to modern fashionista, it has given generation of humans the opportunity to stay warm and progressively to move on from the mere functionality of clothing to making a statement, providing a sense of belonging and telling something about who we are.

To cut a long story short, we do need clothing and all we are trying to do is (re)vision our approach to clothing.

Development in the fashion world over the past few decades having reached its pinnacle with fast fashion is simply a piece of evidence of the way we have been knocked off course by what the marketing gurus of the 50s started which is turning humans into consumers.

We believe that the more we know, the less we need. If this holds true at the individual level for some of us, it definitely doesn’t at the macro level where it seems that we are going by quite the opposite mantra of “the more we know, the more stuff we need”.

At (re)vision, we picture a society where going forward, it will still be possible to enjoy everything industries create, including the fashion industry but simply in a different manner, more in sync with natural processes.

We believe fashion is an important industry to revise because it can be a very big driver of change and this is why it matters. Over the years, it has been a barometer of the mood of society. The US economist, Thorstein Veblen, devoted a whole chapter of his controversial book The Theory Of The Leisure Class on the topic titled “Dress As An expression Of The Pecuniary Culture”. Perhaps we will soon be able to add revisions to this chapter by introducing that fashion has now become an expression of the empathetic culture we developed.

As a result of the power fashion has had in history, the ripple effect on other aspects of society will be far more important than simply fixing an obvious design flaw in the way clothing is being made today. By design flaw, we mean the incredibly wasteful way clothes are designed today.

It is not to say that the challenges lying ahead are easy but that they are just one step in the direction of a globally conscious society where social and environmental good are put at the forefront of decision making processes and societal values.

If clothing production is so wasteful, why do we need another fashion brand then?

What we need, actually, is profound change in the design practices of all fashion brands. The way we manufacture our products must become inventive and altered to reach a goal of sustainability and eliminating waste. Yet this change will be hard, if not impossible, to justify and get approved within big leading fashion companies. As is often the case with change, the stronger the incumbents, the harder the change will be for them. This is partly due to a business’s focus on continual growth, a characteristic commonly found in us all. We want progress. Yet the prospect of revenue growth from investment in sustainable practices is too disruptive and looks too slim when put in front of the challenges global financial markets impose on these companies. Companies in our global economy, regardless of organisation size, struggle to meet the demands of society and even the best managers suffer from shortsightedness imposed on them. In this case, short term revenue is valued over long term well-being.

We do not believe it is right to sit on the sidelines and wait for the change to come because it simply is unlikely to materialise if we trust the incumbents to do the right thing. If they were doing the right thing, we wouldn’t hear about water stream pollution, sweat shops, child labor, tonnes of clothes thrown in landfills every year and an exponential increase in product variations, colours to tease out customers by constantly making them feel out of date with the latest trends.

As a result, we believe this is why the change can only be led by new entrants and smaller players showing that there is another way.

Why now? The urgent need for a CO2 sober society.

These are exciting times. We are the first generation of humans getting the opportunity to have a go at taking mankind to a level of consciousness never seen before. Activists and thought leaders like Jeremy Rifkin call it biosphere consciousness. This shift in perception is not the product of our own generation creativity but the result of thousands of years of human evolution and social interaction which have led us to grow progressively beyond a national, regional or a religious sense of belonging to a biosphere one, where we have come to realise that we humans and other beings are all interconnected. We are simply the generation of humans that happen to be here at this time in the trajectory of human development and the stakes happen to be quite high because our past century of fast industrialisation has had an unsustainable impact on our habitat.

It is now hopefully obvious to everyone in developed societies that the global chemical experiment we have been running for over a century releasing massive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere has to end if we want to give a liveable planet to the generations to come. Whilst we are the first generation to have the opportunity to transcend society to a higher level of consciousness and a more empathic civilisation, we could also be the last ones to experience it if we are not to change our way of treating the biosphere dramatically.

CO2 emission could appear quite remote from what the fashion industry suffers from but everything is linked. If the top three CO2 emitters remain energy production, agriculture and transportation, fashion can have a profound impact on these because it is an expression of the consciousness of human society.

It is hard to put in better words what needs to happen on a collective level than Abraham Lincoln did back in 1862 before Congress a month or so before making slavery history in America. We believe his speech, which guides one to consider the present occasion, the present potential to collectively create immense and beautiful change, summarises well where we stand with sustainability today.

“We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our [habitat] (replacing country in the original text).
[…] The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud”

Can we all do better? We believe this is worth pursuing and hope you will join us.

Written by Frank Maniere


For those still in doubt that climate change is a serious concern and that decarbonising our economies is a top priority I invite you to pose, reflect and think about what future you would like to leave for the generations to come.