The Future of Fashion
Posted on 08 April 2017
Catching up with Christina Dean, Founder of Redress
Christina Dean is the Founder of Redress, an organization that has pioneered sustainable fashion. Starting off in 2007 in Hong Kong, Redress is now positively shaping the fashion industry across multiple continents. As a regular speaker on sustainable fashion and recently featured in the documentary True Cost, Christina has been voted one of the ‘Top 30 Inspirational Women’ by Vogue UK. I have had the fortune of working with her, and in addition to being a driven and creative entrepreneur, an inspiring boss and a mother of three, she also is a delightful human being. I spoke to Christina about the journey with Redress and her thoughts on the future of fashion.
Tell us more about your journey with Redress.
Founding and running Redress - breathing and living it! - has been a huge personal and professional adventure. My journey - from being a dentist, to a journalist and writing about environmental issues, to starting Redress - has significantly changed who I am. The early and somewhat accusatory years at Redress saw me apportion one-sided blame towards the fashion industry for her deadly planetary impacts. But then a deeper personal realization dawned on me as I took a hard (and horrible) look at our culture’s consumption patterns, which have played tango with the industry to get us into this mess. This sobering reality helped me see that we, as fashion consumers and global citizens who truly care about our future, are now the solution.
How has it changed you personally?
At a personal level, this journey has been very liberating! It led me to the realization that it doesn’t matter if it’s how we source and use our fashion, food or fuel - we are the masters of our choices. Professionally, I have loved steering the Redress ship that is helping to inspire positive change in others.
Where is Redress headed in the next years?
We’re heading towards cementing the belief that positive change is possible, whether this means inspiring the industry, from the designers, brands or suppliers, to the consumers. The stark reality is that I can work day and night, but I will still go to my deathbed with many problems persisting - like fashion’s high environmental cost, her cheap price point and the sheer size of the enormous demand for clothes as our population keeps growing. However, one major difference will be that many more people will be empowered to take action. More people know that change is needed and more people are making change happen. It’s exciting.
Tell us about some challenges you experience in the fight for sustainable fashion.
The fundamental challenge with our cause is that consumers just love clothes! People show the world who they are by their wardrobes. So the fashion industry goes to the heart of people, and people respond by wanting to buy more clothes, new clothes, different clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes! However, my belief is that people can still celebrate fashion’s creativity and express themselves – and of course have fun – but in a more ethical way.
If you could predict the future, what will fashion will look like?
We need to stop looking at ‘sustainable fashion’ as being something that is ‘less bad’ than conventional fashion. Instead, we need to look at ‘sustainable fashion’ as being inherently ‘good’. I think it’s perfectly possible to transform our closets into a petri-dish of social innovation, justice, ethics and style. Something like Mother Theresa meets the runway!
What about sustainable fashion designers and brands?
The big names in sustainable fashion are probably those who have recently left fashion schools. Many young designers are not only blessed with the mindset of millennials – who care more about social and environmental issues than any other previous generation – but they also benefit from the increasing market size for sustainable fashion, as millennials are most likely to buy ethical products. New names will be cropping up everywhere, because the shift towards sustainable design is something that is happening in all corners of the world, from Mumbai, to Malaysia, to Manhattan.