Author: Fibershed

Unpacking ‘Sustainable’ Fashion

“Sustainability, as defined and measured in fashion, is currently an elitist, even imperialistic concept,” says Veronica Kassatly, analyst and consultant for data-based sustainability claims. In this four-part series, Kassatly examines how Western brands, consumers, and activists define the conversation around sustainability, based on their own interests and cultural values. She brings light to unfounded assertions about the long-lasting fiber traditions of wool, silk, and alpaca production in an effort to map out better solutions for moving toward “sustainable” fashion that is truly sustainable and socially just.

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Alpaca Stories Part 3: When PETA Strikes, Certifications Follow

In the third and final article, we take a closer look at the claims for alpaca made by the ‘sustainable’ apparel sector. I walk through how these claims prioritize a global north perspective that diminishes the most disadvantaged, those in the global south who are producing the fiber. We conclude with an understanding of how the claims of ‘environmental harm’ are contributing actual harm to the livelihoods of small-scale alpaca farmers and call on the fashion industry to reexamine its categorization of sustainable materials.

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Alpaca Stories Part 2: Fibs, Lies, and Falsehood

In Part 2, we examine how alpaca fiber ranks in terms of environmental impact using the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Kering Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) account. We look at the shortcomings of these measurement tools in assessing alpacas’ cultural, social, and economic value to indigenous peoples. Finally, we dig into the competing interests in the mining industry for land use in Peru.

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Alpaca Stories Part 1: Alpaca – More Prized than Gold by the Incas, Still Scorned by the West?

In Part 1, we take a close look at what alpaca are, why they are so well-suited to the Peruvian altiplano, where sustenance is scarce and the indigenous inhabitants have few options, and we price check alpaca against other fibers – it’s expensive. This means that there is an economic incentive for brands and their funded initiatives to portray alpaca as environmentally harmful. Do they? And if so, is it justified?

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