The Accessories Council held its second-annual panel summit Nov. 14 at the Hearst Tower.
Among the day’s discussions was a panel on the topic of sustainability — featuring Marie Claire editor in chief Anne Fulenwider and creative director Nina García in conversation with The Fair Fashion Center’s Cara Smyth.
García was recently sent to Alaska on assignment to style images for the magazine’s September issue, using the state’s melting glaciers as a harrowing backdrop.
“I was not skeptical, I was just removed from the conversation,” García said of her realizations while visiting the state. “Fashion is the number-two polluter after oil and gas, it’s a hard thing to talk about,” she added.
Smyth went on to further quantify the industry’s output, revealing that one in six people on the planet work in fashion — ranging from sheep farmers who provide wool, to retail sales associates. The industry’s carbon footprint accounts for 10 percent of annual global emissions.
“We can be a huge force for good, but probably only if we make it profitable and chic,” Smyth said.
With that, she has set out to educate fashion corporations on how waste, travel and chemical reductions can not only help the environment, but also save them money.
“It’s about the intersection of profitability and sustainability,” she said.
One such project involved raising awareness about excessive packaging of dress shirts.
“Every man’s dress shirt comes with an average of 14 to 18 pieces of packaging, that are pooled from five different countries,” Smyth said. “If you reduce four or five of those, you can have a big impact — maybe up to eight cents a shirt.” The center estimates that it has had a hand in reforming packaging for approximately 50 million shirts since starting the project.