This year, San Francisco Sustainable Fashion Week and Community Fashion Week, events taking place in San Francisco, California, presented what’s new within the footprint of sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. It is a show of creation: super wearable clothes, economically viable and also very different.
Events range from ordinary people to nonprofits, such as Wardrobe For Opportunity (WFO), geared toward meeting the employment and professional needs of low-income people.
San Francisco Sustainable Fashion Week and Community Fashion Week create opportunities for the concept of sustainability to be incorporated into the fashion world, as Shirin Hashem tells us in this interview. She is founder and executive producer of Community Fashion Week in San Francisco.
Aguida Zanol (AZ) – Working so long for big corporations, how was this jump to entrepreneurship in your life?
Shirin Hashem – After 14 years in different corporations, I decided to undertake on my own. I believed and believe that I can do much more as an entrepreneur, especially in the field of sustainable fashion. Today, I am part of two business women’s boards that are startups and I support designers coming from my country, Saudi Arabia, and other Eastern countries, a way I found to get this message to them.
AZ – Why is sustainability so prevalent?
Shirin – The idea of bringing sustainability to the center of fashion began in the 2013/2014 edition, on the occasion of Earth Day. I come from a country where waste is high; people buy a dress only for one occasion, pay dearly, and then discard. In addition, there are cases of exploitation of child labor and workers who receive very little and work exhaustively. All this goes against my principles, and by witnessing these situations I felt encouraged to do something to change that reality.
AZ – What situations have you witnessed?
Shirin – As a world fashion buyer, I had the opportunity to travel to various countries in South America and Asia, visited several factories and came across people working in degrading conditions. All due to mass production, which ultimately affects the environment as well. We have to find a way to produce without exploiting so many natural assets.
AZ – How to introduce sustainability in the fashion world?
Shirin – I think we need more education; our community needs to know how to choose, to be more assertive and conscientious in its decisions. Sustainability is not only the type of fabric or material used in the manufacturing, but the combination of everything that is part of the process, always with the perspective of saving natural resources. Being more minimalist than maximalist, I would say, something like slow fashion.
AZ – What expectations do you have regarding this paradigm shift?
Shirin – I hope to continue doing what I’m doing. This is my life and the moment that I am. I want to focus on sustainability by partnering with designers who do not have representation yet, the ones behind the scenes. There are designers who have been working hard to save the planet, offering new styles and possibilities to wear, wear and live. If you look at the number of designers who produce collection every year, the percentage of sustainable designers is still very small.
AZ – And the market, how do you behave at the idea?
Shirin – In a positive way and every day with more followers. There are big brands adhering to the concept of sustainability, even if there is a great economic interest against this trend, behind the industries. The same goes for sustainable designers, they are hard to find, but they are everywhere. I believe that the scene of the future, when they talk about Paris Fashion Week or London, or Milano, the biggest, is the concept of sustainability come to dominate in all segments.
|Cork – the tree of a thousand and one utilities
The cork is used as raw material in the manufacture of numerous products, and considered noble among designers focused on sustainable fashion. “It’s a lightweight material that has several functionalities,” says designer Aguida Zanol. The cork is extracted from the bark of cork oak (Quercus suber), an oak family tree grown in southern Europe. The cork is removed when the tree reaches between 25 and 30 years of growth, and is renewed precisely by the process of removal of the bark.