Without a doubt, one of the sectors where the sustainability model is breaking through most strongly, but also where there is still a long way to go, both within the sector itself and within society it is the fashion industry.
Slow Fashion Next was born with this ambitious goal in mind: try to move on the environmental awareness and sustainable development in this sector.
Gema Gómez leads a multidisciplinary team. In these seven years, which will be eight in September, they have already become a benchmark in the sector. They have emphasize on the fashion sector business development, which it is as a sector with an enormous and a required sustainable potential.
What can you tell us about Slow fashion next? What is your initiative? What is its objective?
Slow Fashion Next is an online training platform, but we also give lessons to many universities and companies as well as participating in many conferences and events to train and disseminate the concepts of fashion, sustainability and business.
Our goal is to provide the tools in order to shape an alternative industry by supporting all professional companies and entrepreneurs who want to include sustainability concepts in the textile supply chain.
The proposals of the Global Fashion Agenda movement and the postulates of the Ellen MaCarthur Foundation are in line with the objectives of sustainable development. What is all this declaration of intentions and why do you consider them so important? What reflection do you think these principles have right now in your sector and in society in general?
Above all we feel aligned with the "Sustainable Development Goals" which are a fantastic guide created by the United Nations to integrate these concepts of environmental, social and economic sustainability within companies. We also based ourselves on the circular economy principles of Ellen MacArthur Foundation and analyzed the Global Fashion Agenda reports that give the heartbeat of the textile sector today, although we believe that the objectives have to be more ambitious than what is set out in the Global Fashion Agenda.
You talk about change, about "reinventing the fashion sector and transforming its impacts", how can it be changed, what are the instruments for this change?
This change can be approached in different ways, how we work with our customers. Helping them to implement ecodesign strategies can deal with the intervention at the origin of the material and its transformation, the social and local impacts generated by products helping them to be positive rather than negative, and can also be changed by creating new disruptive business models that did not exist until now and are making a hole in conventional ways of dressing as for example the model of renting.
These types of initiatives will increasingly be integrated into the sector because Generation Z (The generation that goes after the “millennials”, to which those who were born in the late 1990s and early 2000s belong) are already very accustomed to renting rather than buying from it.
Within Slow fashion next we find B2fabric. What can you tell us about this section, does opting for materials / sustainable raw material / eco-designed, [...]) an increase in production costs?
B2fabric is a new project who was born last summer in collaboration with my partner, Blanca Gómara. It is a showroom of sustainable fabrics as well as a consultancy for entrepreneurs and companies to help them implement these criteria easily and get resilient companies.
Regarding the price of products and textile materials, it is clear that if the market allows a certain business model to reach the buyer without paying for all the rivers that pollute or the salaries that it doesn't pay for example, it is clear that what is cheap is to exploit.
We could talk about knowing the concepts, about having the instruments to materialize the objectives, but almost every day we see that society is not moving in that direction, does not have a real environmental commitment and the situation of the planet and its resources is in an increasingly difficult situation. Where do you think is therefore the key to reversing this lack of commitment, to direct the model towards that sustainable development?
The truth is that when I heard this I couldn't stop a smile from escaping me, more than 10 years ago, when I began to investigate, I did perhaps have the feeling that nobody knew anything.
Today, when you write sustainable fashion on Google, thousands and thousands of entries come out with this concept. I think that the key is to insist, to continue forming, informing and creating alternatives.
I am 100% convinced for many reasons, that this change is much closer than we thought and I think especially in recent years where the progression is being super interesting.
Slow fashion next carries out an important training activity on entrepreneurship and sustainability. Do you think that this training is reflected in the subsequent projects or activities developed by the students? Is it an added difficulty to develop and go to market with a model based on sustainable development or is it a competitive advantage?
In a collapsed market such as fashion, any initiative that is launched will cost a lot to implement regardless of whether it has sustainability criteria or not. The important thing is to believe in the project and I can also say that those who started a few years ago and perhaps had to learn, are now doing better and better and are much more solid as businesses as well. These emerging brands will be the leaders of the coming years.
Is the fashion sector a committed sector, or on the contrary, do more values such as the price or the brand of the product acquired continue to prevail? Do you think that this commitment should be requested by the market/society or that it should come from the designers and manufacturers themselves?
I don't think we can talk about a sector when we talk about a consumer. Yes, we can talk about a sector as we talk about the professionals who make it up and it is true that while the professionals who are more established are finding it hard to move, students and entrepreneurs understand perfectly the value of these proposals because it is simply common sense and when you understand easily implement them.
Is the sustainable development that you are proposing as a paradigm compatible with the successful model prevailing in this sector of cheap garments and recurring purchases? What do you think is necessary to convince all those designers and manufacturers that don't opt for this model to lead them back to the model of positive social impact that you are talking about?
I believe that the market is changing and that if they are not seeing it, it is because they are not opening their eyes to all the information you have around you, such as the report launched at the end of the year by scientists on climate change. I think those who are opening their eyes to all this are the ones who are going to be able to remain with these criteria implemented in their chain and that when the time for change comes, which is going to come sooner, surely sooner than we think, they will be prepared to offer these alternatives in a much easier way.
With more than 3,000 students, more than 30,000 monthly visits to its website and the confirmation that the degree of customer satisfaction is high, this is a company that demonstrates that the right business model is a model with commitment and responsibility.
That the future of society, of our generation and of the next must be based on sustainability at all levels. Once again Ekohunters is aligned with the benchmarks of sustainable development. Together we fight for the future of our planet. Every gesture counts: Inspiring changes