The world of fashion goes far beyond just the clothes we wear – it’s a complex and interconnected web that weaves together environmental sustainability, social issues, and global policy.
As Clare Press, Sustainability Communicator and Founder of The Wardrobe Crisis explains, the fashion industry reflects our collective values, impacts the world we live in, and plays a crucial role in shaping the broader societal landscape. “The issues can feel overwhelming, but all of us in this industry have the power to make positive change, through the decisions we make.”
Clare is an immensely respected figure within the sustainable fashion movement, notable for her pioneering role as the inaugural Sustainability Editor at Vogue. Since founding Wardrobe Crisis, she has released almost 200 episodes of the podcast by the same name and authored three books, while appearing as a keynote speaker at events all over the globe.
Her next engagement is set to be a highlight as she participates in the prestigious Global Sourcing Seminar Series, part of the upcoming Global Sourcing Expo Melbourne, which takes place from 21-23 November at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
“My seminar, ‘The Sustainability Agenda – Where Next’ is designed to answer the pressing questions associated with the rise of circularity and sustainability obligations, including whose responsibility it is to make the changes we want to see and where we can make the most impact,” says Clare.
“We’ve entered a new era of sustainability where the pressures to set and reach targets are increasing, but so too are the tools we have access to, the innovations and new ways of working. That’s the focus of my most recent book, Wear Next, Fashioning The Future.”
Sustainable knowledge sharing crucial to getting ahead
Wear Next presents a crystal ball look into tomorrow’s wardrobe, imagining the 16 scenarios most likely to shape our fashion futures, and encompasses fair, slow and upcycled as well as bio-intelligent and digital fashion. It is a book based on solutions rather than speculations, and to write it Clare interviewed global fashion and fashion-adjacent innovators from around the world, including the inventors of new materials, designers, academics, influencers and even philosophers.
“The fashion industry is currently obsessed with all things ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) but this increased focus didn’t happen overnight. It is the product of a concerted effort by change-makers over the last few decades to create a fairer, greener, cleaner fashion future that respects both people and planet, and recognises the power of dialogue, listening and learning,” Clare says.
“My mission is one of sustainability knowledge sharing, and at the upcoming Global Sourcing Expo I look forward to discussing the solutions for creating a fashion future that is resourceful and regenerative, as well as fair to the people involved in the supply chain,” she adds.
As fashion speeds up, we need to think differently
In an increasingly online world, digital fashion is going to become more prevalent, with 3D design, generative AI and Augmented Reality changing the way we do things. Might these new fashion filters and digital outfits come with a sustainability bonus? While they do remove the waste associated with physical garments, the jury’s out – exploitative labour practices are still possible within these new supply chains.
Clare thinks ultra-fast fashion presents a more pressing challenge. “It’s a new normal in our industry, with algorithm-driven mega brands like Shein churning out huge numbers of cheaply made styles destined for the bin.”
But could there be a sustainability silver lining here? Responsible businesses, such as Aussie B Corp Citizen Wolf, are using big data for good to produce on-demand, employing ethical production practices and small batches of sustainable materials. “It’s fast, certainly, but a completely different ballgame to Shein,” Clare comments.
She points out that tech advances are inevitable – it’s up to us how we use them. Algorithms, for example, can be used to forecast demand more efficiently and address over-production.
“Fashion has always pushed boundaries and as technology evolves, combining innovation and sustainability in this form offers an exciting way forward.”
Get a sneak preview of fashion’s future before Global Sourcing Expo Melbourne
Global Sourcing Seminar Melbourne attendees who want to get a taste of Clare’s expert trend predictions before the show can listen to The Wardrobe Crisis Podcast, which has surpassed 1.8 million downloads and received rave reviews in The Guardian, Vogue and Business of Fashion.
“We are thrilled to have a speaker of Clare’s calibre involved in the Global Sourcing Seminar Series at our Melbourne show and know that our attendees will walk away with a clearer idea of what lies ahead for the always-evolving fashion industry, and what is needed to ensure its long-term sustainability,” concludes Marie Kinsella, CEO of the International Exhibition & Conference Group, organisers of the Global Sourcing Expo.
The Sustainability Agenda – Where Next’ Seminar takes place on 23 November from 10-11am at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.