No one can change the world – or in this case, the fashion industry – on their own. Which is where Sustainable Fashion Scotland comes in.
From makers and menders to sewers and growers, Sustainable Fashion Scotland (SFS) brings together people involved in all things fashion from across Scotland. Together, they are moving fashion in Scotland in a different direction – away from fast and throwaway, towards a shared vision for something more sustainable.
The network was launched in February 2020, by a small core team including MSc Social Innovation student and Fashion Management graduate Mairi Lowe. With the support of Fashion Revolution Scotland and ApparelXchange, they brought together 70 people from Scotland’s fashion network at their first event, and the community has only grown since then. It now includes brands, business, academics, students, home sewers, customers, policy makers, activists and citizens – and welcomes anyone involved in sustainable fashion who is based in Scotland.
Since launch, the SFS community has got together online for a monthly Community Call event. A local sustainable fashion expert shares their work, then leads a discussion that begins with the all-important question ‘How can we…?’ Conversations so far have covered how we can change the way we value worn clothes, how we can promote the wellbeing benefits of buying less new clothing, and how we can collectively design a sustainable fashion transformation. The SFS team takes notes and shares back insights with the wider community in their newsletter.
“One of the most rewarding parts for me has been seeing people in the community connect who wouldn’t normally in their day-to-day lives and work,” Mairi says. “At our Community Calls everyone is welcome to ask and answer questions and share opinions, no matter your expertise or level of involvement with sustainable fashion. This has unlocked new ideas that we hadn’t considered before.”
A monthly book club also gives community members a chance to dive into the work of big thinkers that are shaping the future of fashion. Books have included Atlas favourites Earth Logic and Doughnut Economics. SFS have also released a magazine, spotlighting Scots who are making waves in sustainable fashion.
The connections created by the SFS network so far have meant that the team has been invited to speak at colleges and universities in Scotland, to lead discussions about sustainability in fashion and invite students to join the community.
Working locally means that people can create meaningful relationships with people from their area, and work together on ideas for change that are embedded in a real local context – making action more possible. Local community efforts have, Mairi says, the power to change the global system. “While the fashion industry faces problems on a global scale, we believe that whole systems change will only be achieved through the collective impact of many innovative local solutions.”
Nature-geek, urban forager and all-round wordy sort. Freelance strategist and writer for organisations that care about the future. Often found reading while walking.
Mairi Lowe, Founding Member
This project has been selected as part of FashionFutures, a new content channel that maps the work of people transforming the fashion sector: the designers, craftspeople, social innovators, educators, community leaders and communicators. Atlas of the Future is excited to partner with Makerversity, with the support of The J J Charitable Trust and their network of fashion friends.