I thought it vital to write this after re-reading Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times piece ‘The Biggest Fake News in Fashion’, which was published in December of last year. Vanessa cites this fact:

The definitive, and damning, pronouncement that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. It’s so shocking, so catchy and so easy to believe. There’s only one problem -

“It is not factually true,” said Jason Kibbey, the chief executive of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

Is this surprising? Absolutely, and I was very taken back by this fact as I have heard that fashion is the second most polluting industry from many reputable sources, including The True Cost documentary, in various literature and via The Sustainable Fashion forum. I, having trusted these sources have referenced this false fact as fact in an interview I did in early 2018. Recently I have seen many slow fashion companies cite this as fact too, perhaps as it helps us to enhance our argument that fashion and consumption needs moderation, however, we do not need to state this drastic non-fact as the real facts are just as darning:

  • Nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being produced. 

  • More than 8 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by the apparel and footwear industries. 

  • And, around 20 to 25 percent of globally produced chemical compounds are utilized in the textile-finishing industry.

We need to use these true facts to argue our case for non-mass product and sustainable practices. At a time when journalism is riddled with fake news, we should not perpetuate this falsehood. You can read the article in question here.

To alter our language and ensure what we are stating is true when discussing consumerism is vitally important, particularly given that many of us are in positions of privilege to be able to consume less clothing that we know is responsibly made. Sustainability is a nuanced argument. We do not need to embellish how bad the fashion industry is, when these true facts state its seriousness. My responsibility to not perpetuate this falsehood is one I will take with me to discussions - at events and in regular conversation, as well as in interviews and throughout the future of Denude. I will shortly be publishing the Denude Library, where our audience can read and explore facts and debates about how we can alter the fashion industry. I hope that the article will allow for us to think about reframing our language for the better and to question the truths out there.

Thank you.

Laurie Clémence.