Fashion is important to many. Your fashion choices make you who you are and help you artistically express yourself to the world. But what happens behind all the glistening shop fronts, smiling employees and luxurious fabrics? I spoke to Rosh, sustainable fashion expert and founder of Issara.
Why is it important to make fashion sustainable?
Fashion is a small part of life, and yet one of the most polluting industries in the world. Incidents like the Rana Plaza disaster where over 1000 lives were lost due to poor working conditions and a lack of respect for human life further emphasize the need for sustainable and ethical fashion.
What products should you look out for if you’d like to help the environment?
Focus more on the way the products you purchase are created. Look beyond the buzzwords – green, ethical, organic, sustainable, natural – not everything that is organic/natural is good for you (plenty of toxins are natural!).’Green’ has become a common phrase. Instead, investigate the companies’ claims, buy less often and buy things that last a long time. Try to repair things when they break rather than replacing them.
What products should you avoid?
Cheap, fast, fashion. It generally uses poor quality materials, pollutants and often made in sweat shops.
What was your inspiration for developing this brand?
I started Issara when I became extremely frustrated with the fruitless search for a well designed, long lasting leather bag. The prevalence of unsustainable fast fashion where planned obsolescence is relied upon to keep the industry moving had me convinced that there was a better way to consume. At Issara we work with artisans to produce minimalist, luxury quality leather goods that are fairly priced and benefit the community making them. Each piece is hand drafted, cut, sewn and burnished so there is no waste and each item is a work of art. The materials rival those of high fashion brands (premium full grain leather, quality hardware, Japanese zippers, UV resistant nylon thread) so your bag will last several years and become more beautiful with age (good leather develops a patina from the oil in your hands and the environment it is exposed to). It becomes a unique piece that tells a story.
What would you like to see happen in the future?
I hope that customers will become more savvy in seeing through marketing gimmicks, and make informed purchasing decisions that are better for the people making their clothes and also for the planet.
What advice would you give young people interested in fashion?
You’re in the best position to start something. Time is a luxury that won’t last so if you’re passionate about making fashion sustainable, educating yourself or even starting you own label – there’s no better time than now! Get out there and you will develop many skills, experience and connections. Traditional jobs and business are slow-moving beasts, they will be there if and when you decide to take the safe path.