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LONDON – The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF) has called for the global apparel industry to recalibrate on a more sustainable footing post-Covid-10. The civil society body says the fashion industry’s desire to return to normal is knee-jerk, arguing that, in any case, “there is no normal to go back to.”

In a statement, it says: “Not only was the pre-COVID 19 normal a crisis; there is no normal to go back to, no previous health to recover. Production chains have been ruptured, people have been sacked, companies have gone bust, factories have closed.

“Whatever we do next has to be built afresh. Let’s be sure that this effort is not one that simply recreates the normal that was a crisis. This is a threshold moment. A moment where we can fashion another system in which Earth, people and all species thrive, no matter what conditions and stresses (economic, biological, environmental or otherwise) are encountered.” 

The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion was formed in 2018 by Kate Fletcher, Lynda Grose, Timo Rissanen and Mathilda Tham. All are researchers focusing on fashion and sustainability.

Their latest statement appeals to stakeholders to, “use this moment to reimagine what life and fashion can be when we plan it to exist within the limits of the Earth and with the health of all humans and co-species as the central purpose.”

It adds: “The Corona pandemic has taught us with brutal honesty how fragile, unstable and unfit for purpose our social and economic systems are. It has revealed that the logic of economic growth is an ideology that is deeply flawed. What good is an economy that breaks down when we just buy the necessities for day-to-day life? Food, shelter and health are surely the foundation of any economic system. The ideology of the growth economy, configured towards profit and extraction of resources, does not sustain life on Earth. 

“The fashion system, as it turns out, had no inbuilt margins, no structural resilience to absorb the stresses associated with a pandemic. Orders have been cancelled mid-production; individuals, communities and whole regions have lost their main source of livelihoods – livelihoods that were already insufficient to support living wages. People have died because they have been forced to work despite lack of protective equipment and in conditions where safe distancing was impossible. Employees of large fashion companies have been sacked or placed on furlough.”

The full post – well worth a read – can be found here: https://concernedresearchers.org/earth-day-open-letter/#more-2243

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