[Dublin] Redress Symposium | Better Fashion Week

Wednesday night saw Redress hold their third evening of Better Fashion Week, the series of events geared for those looking for inspiration of the sustainable kind and people interested in Irish made products. In three parts, the first hour was dedicated to giving a platform to some guests from the UK.

Simon Ferringo of Sustainable and Organic Farm Systems gave an exposé on his research into cotton farming, the peculiarities of the crop and challenges facing the mass market in producing in high volume without taxing the planet or those working in cotton related industries too highly. Did you know, from growers to retail, cotton provides income for around 1 billion people worldwide? Definitely something to sit up and think about. 

Next, Tamsin Lejeune explained her work at the Ethical Fashion Forum, a platform for providing information and support to businesspeople worldwide to make fashion with a conscious. I was especially interested in their site The Source which has a weekly newsletter giving bite size chunks of information about what's going on for those in fashion. Last, Nick Ryan talked about making fashion in "closed loop" manufacturing systems, whereby all waste after consumer consumption is absorbed somehow back into the manufacturing process, thereby side-stepping any land-fill intake at all.

In the second part of the evening saw groups of three punters at a time meet face to face with industry insiders. It was my favourite part of the night. I met Angela Scanlon, TV presenter and stylist; Kate O'Dowd, Fashion Editor at IMAGE magazine; James Kavanagh of Thinkhouse PR; and Gareth Pitcher, owner of the Indigo and Cloth boutique and editor at Thread magazine. I was able to really ask the questions I wanted, although it was a great opportunity just to meet them and get to know them face-to-face.

Last, Constance Harris led a discussion with such names as Joe Queenan of Foxford Woollen Mills; Eilis Boyle, designer; and Peter Love, boutique owner at Fashion Hothouse. Topics on the table included the difficulties in producing in Ireland, although there seemed to be a consensus that production is returning to Europe's shores as consumers increasingly seek high quality and locally-made pieces. There was also talk of the way being Irish is a highly marketable brand worldwide, with an instantly recognisable ideal of a culture close to nature and approachable, friendly people. What's more, there was discussion of how to survive a recession, with older panel members discussing differences and similarities with bust times in the past.

All in all it was a brilliant night, and it will be interesting to see who else came away inspired and what brilliant things grow from Better Fashion Week 2012. 

Simon Ferrigamo

Constance Harris and the panel discussion

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