Published on 20 March 2019
To showcase the innovative potential of sustainably produced forest fibres, our Forests for Fashion Initiative participated in the largest global meeting on the environment: the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly.
From 10-15 March, an exhibit of stunning and innovative clothes made by young designers using forest-derived materials were on display at the Sustainable Innovation Expo, where more than 40 organizations and companies showcased innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
Camille Jaillant is one of the latest designers to produce a ‘Forest for Fashion’ piece, relying entirely on localized production in Portugal and using PEFC-certified fabric.
“As a designer, you are inevitably inspired by nature. Protecting our source of creativity and of life is essential, and everyone’s responsibility. It is a challenge to create fashionable evening dresses that are at the same time sustainable – some designers would argue it limits your options. But Forests for Fashion shows that sustainability and fashion go hand in hand.”
Sustainable fashion is not a distant dream: solutions exist!
The fashion industry has a lot of potential for change, but currently faces many problems. Almost 65 percent of global fabric consumption consists of synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels, which are not biodegradable and add to the already mounting problem of microplastics in our oceans. Much of the remainder is made up of cotton, which uses large amounts of water in already arid regions of the world, and in addition requires a lot of toxic pesticides.
Materials with lower environmental impact are out there, in the forest. Fashion brands are increasingly designing with textiles made from forest fibres, which are biodegradable, and renewable.
Forest certification in this process is key to ensure sustainability: knowing that the fibres come from a forest that is certified for being sustainably managed gives confidence to producers and consumers that these forests will be around for generations.
Forests for Fashion
The Forests for Fashion initiative resulted from a fruitful collaboration between the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, PEFC International and several PEFC members, and Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T.
It is in tune with the recently adopted Vancouver Invitation on Forest Products for a Better Future, which recognizes the value of sustainably produced wood and wood-based products as environmentally friendly materials. Award-winning actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh has also been a strong supporter of Forests for Fashion, and stars in the UN TV production on sustainable fashion “Made in Forests”.
UNECE is also part of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, which was launched at the UN Environment Assembly. It aims at strengthening cooperation among United Nations agencies and programmes on the social, environmental and economic dimensions of the fashion industry. Find out more about the Alliance: www.unfashionalliance.org