‘Put Earth first’: can a greener, fairer fashion industry emerge from crisis?

After Covid19, the best we can hope for the fashion industry is a rebirth that puts people and planet ahead of profits. Earth Hour this Saturday is a further reminder that every moment counts

The shutting down of society as we know it is giving a lot of time for reflection, not least in fashion circles. In an interview in the design magazine Dezeen, the influential trend forecaster Li Edelkoort has called it a “quarantine on consumption” that is having a devastating impact on our economy and culture, but ultimately offers “a blank page to a new beginning”.

While sections of the fashion industry already knew they could not continue on their current trajectory, it was inconceivable that brands could be forced to slow down, let alone stop production altogether. But that is what has happened as famous names from Prada to Zara have turned their production lines to making medical gowns and masks, and luxury houses have changed from making perfume to sanitisers. It’s an unprecedented interruption of an industry that has relied on speeding from one season’s sales to the next. And it is bringing with it a new sense of connectedness, responsibility and empathy.

Related: Conscious, ethical and cruelty-free: a guide to the language of sustainable fashion

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