As we head into 2020, global trends reveal that we’re longing for environmentally conscious, sustainable fashion solutions. Across the fashion landscape, we’re asking questions about the origins of our clothing.
Before we get started, it’s important to remember that as consumers, it’s our hard-earned money that powers the industry. And we want to know where it’s going.

Issues regarding the sustainable practices of the fashion industry are all around us. As SAFW we agree and are committed to ensuring we spearhead our various initiatives with sustainability as a leading principle. We will continue to align and support designers who understand their creative power.

Globally, fashion brands are transforming their operational practices to increase and improve transparency. But again, since we’re powering the industry with our hard-earned cash, what are the ways that we can adopt more mindful consumption habits and approaches? Following instant gratification, what ensures long-term impact?

It starts with US.

The entire fashion industry is centered around our human connection to fashion. We’re all familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Briefly revisited, the theory aligns our behavioural needs across physical, safety, belonging and self-actualisation. Naturally, we require clothing to cover our bodies and keep us warm and protected. But far beyond this, we use fashion to express ourselves. Fashion serves a multitude of needs. It’s used to define who we are, whether it be our belonging to a particular social group or to illustrate our societal status and to garner respect.

Steve Jobs: jeans/sneakers/black polo neck uniform // Anna Wintour: The latest, most beautiful brand

There are a growing number of innovative and inventive solutions, transforming the fashion ecosystem, which directly addresses the challenge to reduce fashion’s negative environmental impact. As SA Fashion Week, we ensure that innovation is woven into the fabric of our future. We have included critical sustainable evaluation criteria from garment fitting to cutting and crafting techniques. We’re encouraging our designers to consider the creation of timeless, trans-seasonal collections, and we are committed to supporting those designers who are dedicated to achieving these goals.

But once again, the responsibility doesn’t just lie with the designers. What role can we, as consumers, play in securing a more sustainable fashion industry?

There are many, many ways in which you can contribute to long-term change. We’re going to share three of our favourites.

ONE: Embrace Ethical Buying: Designed for You

You no doubt have your style. We love that!

Become familiar with our South African designers and find one whose creative work you love, respect and are inspired by. Begin to purchase individual garments from them to create a personal capsule collection that’s trans-seasonal and timeless. You may spend a little more but creating a ‘uniform’ that truly represents YOU as a person is priceless. Tailored and custom made garments of ethically sourced pieces that you can add to, over several seasons, will provide a multitude of benefits, will assist you in putting an end to your everyday argument regarding what to wear, and you will be supporting the growth of the local design industry.

TWO: Experience Vintage

Heritage in our increasingly connected and the newness-obsessed world is a growing trend. Inspired by the desire for collective nostalgia, we are witnessing an increase in the availability of beautiful vintage pieces. Take some time to look up local vintage stores and fall in love with the original and rare. Share in the stories of the past whilst investing in a piece of the future.


What about your current wardrobe that’s jammed full of pieces you may love but know you’ll never wear again? Perhaps you’ve outgrown them, stylistically or physically. Either way, this is an amazing opportunity to upcycle and recycle. Get your closest friends together and swop or share. Trends come and go but your personally treasured pieces may be exactly what your bestie is searching for. Again, use the opportunity to share the story of the garment.


When considering your commitment to sustainable and ethical fashion, keep in mind that it needs to be holistic. Beginning with design, through to sourcing and manufacturing processes, it can only be truly considered ethical if you’ve taken the entire cycle into account.

Be mindful. The power is in your purse. Spend it where it will make a difference.

Follow for more information about the designers, we support, who’ve adopted a more restorative and regenerative approach to the fashion of the future.

By Polly Ester