While fast fashion is one enemy to Eco-Age founder and creative director Livia Firth, Meta may be the latest.
“We know you can’t work with Facebook like you can’t work with fast fashion. When you talk about the Eco-Verse, the fact that Facebook rebranded itself as Meta should send shivers down your spine,” she told WWD. “There is a need to put together a pool of experts on measuring impacts, [including] policymakers, lawyers, philosophers starting to consider all of these issues.”
Firth’s lineup of experts includes “blockchain luminaries,” in her words, like Auret Van Heerden, expert on human rights in global supply chains, and tech partners like AnamXR (which built a VR experience with Pangaia in 2020) and the Cardano proof-of-stake blockchain.
Earlier this month, Firth teased the launch of the new Eco-Verse division, citing worries of “a regulation-free zone” that could give way to noise — similar to the greenwashing that defines the state of sustainability affairs. Eco-Age wants to stay “vigilant” under uncertain conditions while remaining skeptical of bandwagon appeal.
While she contended “digital fashion is not a replacement for physical fashion,” Firth hopes Eco-Age’s Eco-Verse division can help ethical brands sort things out at the get go.
Here’s how it works.
The Eco-Verse is segmented roughly into two parts: one to advise clients on digital assets generally, including how to enter the NFT and metaverse world with sustainability strategy at the fore, and the other being a due diligence think tank examining the methodology and language of the digital worlds we inhabit.
“[The metaverse is] a fascinating topic, and there’s a lot we’re also learning. We’re trying not to get scared. Every minute now, there’s a new thing happening,” Firth said. “The relationship between society and technology is changing so fast. Now that we learned the lessons — are we really going into this phase without thinking of ethical and environmental issues?”
Steering clear of fast-fashion business models, and Meta for one, Firth described the appeal in taking a company that wants to change for the greener (mentioning jeweler Chopard as one example). Some of the unspoken gains — as the organization straddles eco-consulting and communications — comes with flipping business priorities (and images) over time.
Since its partnership in 2012, Eco-Age estimated 200 million euros in earned media value for Chopard. There’s no telling of the financial rewards that come with a successful metaverse strategy, but unless all ESG criteria is considered — Firth argues the efforts are futile.
In the fashion world, Eco-Age counts Gucci, Diesel, Reformation, UGG and The Woolmark Company among its clients, pioneering sustainability initiatives over the last 12 years, such as The Green Carpet Challenge, The Green Carpet Fashion Awards and the Renaissance Awards, which launched last year.
Eco-Age has drawn admirers as well as critics of the organization’s self-described activist agenda. Some criticism surrounds the firm’s un-reluctant activist tone, especially in the wake of a collaborative campaign called “Make the Label Count” aimed at polyester.
Activism may prove a tenuous path. Although the firm cited “natural turnover,” Eco-Age has seen staff departures in the past month, many of whom moved closer into brand roles.
To these thoughts, Firth said: “I think that’s the beauty of working with Eco-Age…Eco-Age is a very particular agency. We are a full consultancy, but we are also activists. The people that work with us, and our clients obviously, accept the fact that we are activists. Sometimes we embrace a campaign that isn’t exactly aligned with them. They want to be pushed, they want to change. The strength of our communications is we’re very honest.”
While sustainability, now, seems like common ground given its mainstream appeal, Firth stands by the policy of having to start somewhere — which is a lesson now applicable to the Eco-Verse. The only problem is the Eco-Verse is swept up in hyperspeed innovation.
“These things need time, and the difference in this technological revolution — we don’t have a lot of time,” she added. While Eco-Verse updates remain sparse at the moment, Firth said the immediate agenda item is to launch a “manifesto about [the Eco-Verse]” (and perhaps a film as is the agency’s flair) which will be co-created with her expert consultants.