Event Recap – Sustainability In Retail: What, How, & Why?

By Ramona Soriano • April 2, 2018

Last week, Verbal+Visual hosted a fireside chat at ImpactHub NYC for an exploration of ethical environmental sustainability within retail and fashion featuring Genevieve Saylak, Co-Founder at where Mountains Meet, a fashion-forward and ethically responsible organization helping lead the charge into a more environmentally conscious and people-friendly world.  wMM’s goal is to build a company based on the principle of sourcing environmental textiles from around the world. They work with artists’ to collaborate on print-design. These are practicing artists’ in several different fields, such as paint and illustration that tell a visual story. wMM focuses in the eco sector towards textiles and trends that are environmentally responsible.

We’re live at Impact Hub New York City with Genevieve Saylak of where Mountains Meet! We’re exploring what the word sustainability means, and how to think, talk, and act ethically within the retail world.

Posted by Verbal+Visual on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

During the fireside chat, we explored what the word “sustainability” means, how to think, talk, and act ethically within the retail world, and why it truly matters.  Genevieve Saylak at where Mountains Meet shares how she applies those values in her enterprise.

The fireside chat was moderated by Anshey Bhatia, CEO at Verbal+Visual.  We’re delighted to share the key takeaways spoken by Genevieve:

Sustainability Defined

Sustainability has become a meaty topic, one word that everyone is focused on. It’s a really hot buzzword at the moment. It’s tossed around in ways that aren’t that healthy and not that accurate. So if you look up sustainability, it’s the avoidance of the destruction of natural resources.

Inherently, if you’re manufacturing anything, you’re adding product to the universe and you are depleting the earth’s natural resources. To call fashion sustainable in any way, shape, or form, is impossible.

Sustainability in fashion, it’s particularly offensive in light of recent years and the upswing of fast fashion. It’s why this word is starting to be used because high street and mega-retailers like H&M and Zara are currently churning out 100 billion units of clothes a year.

To what end, why do we need that much product? We don’t.

It’s a big and daunting task to re-educate the consumer to spend more money on less but to trust that what they’re buying into, what they’re supporting, has a greater mission.

What really is lux and high end is the notion that your pant was handwoven by a master craftsman in Guatemala or your blouse was hand embroidered by an artisan in India.

wMM works with artisans in several cities in India and South America. Part of this is about a recent movement and interest and reinvention of what luxury ethical fashion actually means. This has everything to do with paying homage to the traditions of communities in other parts of the world that have invested for generations in that craft.

What really is lux and high end is the notion that your pant was handwoven by a master craftsman in Guatemala or your blouse was hand embroidered by an artisan in India. wMM likes to tell those stories not only through design but also with this whole notion of supporting a hardworking economy and what that means for them.

Trend is an evil force in fashion right now because it doesn’t promote this concept of longevity and great design.

At where Mountains Meet, they are anti-trend. The minute they see that everyone is doing a puffed sleeve, they’ll do a skinny one.

Trend is really an evil force in fashion right now because it doesn’t promote this concept of longevity and great design. The shirt that you bought this year, you should want to wear in 10 years and maybe you’ve worn it to shreds, in which case it’s no longer wearable in 10 years, but let’s hope that’s the case.

wMM really believes that great design is supported by a great story told through beautiful fabrics, original prints, and textiles made by the hands of artisan craftsman around the world so those are our differentiators. Differentiating is really what it’s all about.  You can design a classic great white shirt which you can also buy at the Gap, but what’s different about where Mountains Meet are these hidden details when you get a closer look. And it doesn’t take a fashionista or someone obsessed with style to really get those details.

Here are some great resources on sustainability.

Fashion Revolution is a great site based in the UK. EcoCult is an excellent source – their team works daily and supplies a lot of nurture for people interested in the field. You don’t have to be an industry expert to gain perspective. The Atlantic has a great arsenal of articles written about the fashion sector, particularly in fashion and sustainability. Several writers for Vogue, Racked, and Fashionista are focusing on this field as well.

A good place to get shaken up is by watching a documentary called True Cost, which rips the band-aid off the flaws of the fashion industry, particularly surrounding the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, which killed 1100 people. It’s a garment factory disaster and an incredible piece of journalism.

 

where Mountains Meet, sustainability, responsible fashion, impacthub, nyc

Please subscribe to our mailing list to keep up with Genevieve at where Mountains Meet, and we can invite you to the next Verbal+Visual event.

Ramona Soriano

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