When a tailor from Syria arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee, he wouldn’t have conceived to become a key worker in Amsterdam’s citywide effort to become a circular economy. A team of tailors now work at a repair centre to help extend the lifespan of clothing by reusing, repairing garments, and sharing materials and products in the aim to break the link between economic activity and using up the earth's resources.Many fashion brands are exploring how they can be sustainable, and some – like Patagonia – have been on this curve from inception. The first Dutch-style repair centre in the UK will open soon in Leeds.
In our own city Manchester, known for its clothing industry, local entrepreneurs aim to counter the fact that fashion is one of the most wasteful sectors. Manchester Fashion Movement is a community interest company educating around the damaging effects of clothing consumption and waste on people and planet. The platform supports the individual, the brands and policy makers to share learning and be catalysts for broader and transformative change. Its Sustainable Fashion Kiosk stocks local vintage, second-hand and sustainable brands and houses studio space for exhibitions, education and workshops, acting like an incubator for recent fashion design graduates.
One of the local independent sustainable fashion designers is named on the Northern Power Women Awards 2023 Future List that recognises the influencers and change makers who are making a difference in their environments and communities.
Sketching a vision for growth, sustainability, enterprise and social stability, the Christian business man James Featherby writes:“Good business will not answer the world’s problems, but we will struggle to solve the problems of the world without it”.
While we may not yet have an integrated citywide vision to become a circular economy like the Dutch, Manchester’s fashion entrepreneurs aspire to take responsibility for the failure of their sphere and work with passion and artistic skill to counter the detrimental effects by developing credible – and beautiful - alternatives.
While capitalism transforms the nature of work in ways that are profoundly dehumanising and deplete the earth, the challenge for the Christian community is to manage business in a way that grows out of a biblical view of relationships, community, good stewardship of the creation and human dignity before God. These wise words from James Davison Hunter, Professor of Religion, Culture, andSocial Theory, need to be heeded in every entrepreneurial sphere - not just fashion.
He proposes that we develop ‘a faithful presence’ that obligates us “to shape the patterns of life and work and relationship – that is, the institutions of which our lives are constituted- toward a shalom that seeks the welfare… of all.”
I wonder what that looks like in IT,manufacturing, carpentry, construction…and more.
Featherby, J., ‘The White Swan Formula. Rebuilding business and finance for thecommon good’ (London: London Institute of Contemporary Society, 2009).