GWAND Coffee Break with Diane Pernet

GWAND Coffee Break interview series W

GWAND Coffee Break is a short interview series

GWAND Coffee Break is a short interview series dealing with current developments of the creative industry and society in general. We interview global thought leaders in the atmosphere of a quick coffee break at the office; a face or phone call, WhatsApp voice mails or actually in a tête-à-tête over a cup of coffee. Explore the transcribed interview with Diane Pernet below. Interview by Nicole Stein.

GWAND Coffee Break with Diane Pernet
Photographer: Ruven Afanador
  • What is your favorite communication tool these days ? How do you work with your team?

Diane Pernet: Instagram, IGTV and Zoom.

  • How are you spending your days? Books/series/movies (any reco?)

Diane Pernet: I came up with two projects during the lock down period of two months, it is lifted today thing is the virus is still out there so lifting it is totally arbitrary. I am very happy with the films I’m receiving for my #LOCKDOWNHOMEMOVIES and the drawings for the competition for illustrations of the healing monster Amabie.

As far as films, books, I have access to the Criterion Channel with endless films and documentaries separated by genres, decades, countries and directors. Yesterday I watched a Turkish film The Edge of Heaven which was excellent. I enjoyed re-watching the films of Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa and  documentaries. Books like A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, not exactly joyful but a powerful book.

  • How did Corona affect sustainability efforts? Do you think these are short-term/long term effects?

Diane Pernet: I certainly hope it is not short term and that people are forced into the reality of how their lifestyle has impacted our planet. Designers are thinking of how they produce and how they put on shows and the waste that has gone into these big productions. Alex de Betak had some thoughts on show production in this article.

Maybe I’m a dreamer but I do not think people want to go back to life as it was before.

  • Do you think Corona contradicts or supports sustainability efforts?

Diane Pernet: Absolutely supports sustainability efforts. Everyone is forced, as mentioned above, to analyse how what they do effects the planet and it goes beyond bringing a cloth bag to the supermarket and not drinking from plastic water bottles. Maybe I’m a dreamer but I do not think people want to go back to life as it was before. The planet is crying, the cries have been heard now from the top down people have to do what ever they can to change the damage that they have already done.

Probably bikes will be an industry that sees an upswing in their earnings. I for one question the lifting of the quarantine when there is no vaccine what has changed? The virus is out there alive and well that has not changed every surface your touch could be infected, the air you breath… Today they lifted the quarantine in Paris a friend told me the metros are crowded so no one is paying any attention to social distancing. Cafés and restaurants are still not open and probably won’t be till mid-July. I for one do not want to commute unless absolutely necessary. Also businesses are seeing that people can work effectively from home. Consumers should look into what they are consuming, and do they really need to consume to have a good life and what in fact is their idea of a good life?

I like the idea that Saint Laurent will be more like Azzedine always was, show when you are ready to show and not be a part of the fashion system.

  • What is your prediction for the future of sustainable fashion and the creative industry in general?

Diane Pernet: Buy better buy less is my prediction for the future. Hopefully the end to fashion pollution and the endless cycle of unnecessary seasons. I like the idea that Saint Laurent will be more like Azzedine always was, show when you are ready to show and not be a part of the fashion system. Collections shown when clothes are in the shops makes more sense. I am of course in favour of fashion films over fashion shows which I think are very last century or make them a public entertainment where they are a spectacle once or twice a year which are open to the public which will pay to go and attend at the same time they can buy the clothes in shops. Stores and shopping malls are suffering, with COVID19 how willing are you to go into a shop and try on clothes that were just on someone else? Online shopping has been growing for years and probably will continue to grow.

  • What do you think about digital events? Chance to cut cost or loss of cultural impact?

Diane Pernet: That is a big question. I think until there is a vaccine people are not going to jump at the idea of being in an enclosed space with a lot of people watching catwalks or movies. The question is how to make the digital experience more interesting than just a bunch of talking heads. Zoom events have filled a gap and great for the more intimate contact maybe too intimate as do we really need to see the inside of people’s homes? I don’t know I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make the experience dynamic because I don’t see groups of people, be it in a cinema or an event space, as something I personally would be anxious to do for the rest of the year, how about you?


JUDITH directed by Ari Seth Cohen LOCK DOWN HOME MOVIE


JE VIS JE MEURS directed by Mia Tomlinson/co-directed by Marcus Tomlinson #LOCK DOWN HOME MOVIES

About Diane Pernet

Diane Pernet is a world-renowned fashion critic and video journalist based in Paris. Previously a photographer and fashion designer, she now acts as documentary filmmaker, talent scout and fashion blogger. Pernet was one of the earliest fashion journalists to embrace the power of the internet, first through a column in online editions of Elle and Vogue and later through her own site, A SHADED VIEW ON FASHION which since its inception in 2005 has become a ‘must-read’ in fashion and creative industry circles.

Pernet was recognised in 2008 for being a pioneer in digital media when she was chosen as one of three influential bloggers to take part in a panel celebrating a seminal fashion exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  As one of the most recognisable faces in fashion, she has also been captured on the other side of the movie camera through cameo appearances in Robert Altman’s film ‘Prêt-à-Porter’, Ben Stiller’s ‘Zoolander 2’ and in Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ninth Gate’.

Pernet launched ASVOFF in 2008.  As the founder of the world’s first film festival dedicated to fashion, style and beauty, she is widely considered to have incubated the ‘fashion film’ from its infancy to the popular genre that it has become today.  “Diane has never ceased to amaze me with her amazing curiosity about things, her ability to synthesize arcane information and make it palatable for everyone else,” says Tim Blanks, editor-at-large for The Business of Fashion.  “So actually, Diane is a conduit between now and what’s to come.”

We must never stop until this industry becomes one that we can be proud of – Marina Spadafora

Interview Marina Spadafora sustainable fashion industry
The Fashion Revolution coordinator for Italy and GWAND Sustainable Fashion Festival advisory board member once again impressed me with her speech during the Sustainable Fashion Milano 2019 exhibition at the Swiss Embassy. Short, crisp and to the point, unlike others.

Suzanna Vock: Marina Spadafora, you are a designer and sustainability has not become important to you overnight. Where does this conviction come from?

Marina Spadafora: The roots of my sustainable mindset come from my childhood spent in the beautiful northern Italian region of South Tyrol, where I grew up as an avid skier and found myself always in close contact with nature. As a child, when adults would ask me what I wanted to do when I grow up, I always answered that I wanted to work helping children in Africa. It came spontaneous and I am not sure where I got the idea from.
When I was 11 until 14 I had a wonderful professor who introduced us to Martin Luther King and Gandhi and the whole philosophy of non-violent protest. This happened in the Sixties and it made a deep impression on me. It modelled who I am today.

I have done a lot of work with the United Nations especially in Africa and have helped Franca Sozzani, Director of Italian Vogue

The call to preserve nature and to bring social justice into the equation has been with me ever since.

When I had my own brand, I did runway shows that were dedicated to children’s charities and raised money for them.
I have been the creative director of the collection “Auteurs du Monde” by Altromercato for ten years, one of the largest fair trade organisations in Europe. During this time I was able to visit our fair trade producers in many different countries in the world and I came to know and appreciate the quality of life that fair trade grants to those who apply its terms and regulations.

I have done a lot of work with the United Nations especially in Africa and have helped Franca Sozzani, Director of Italian Vogue, to implement the UN programme Fashion 4 Development in many countries.

Since 2014 I am country coordinator on Fashion Revolution Italy and have been promoting sustainability in many different venues, where I am called to intervene as a speaker.

Interview Marina Spadafora sustainable fashion industry

SV: According to a study by the Ellen McArthur Foundation, the clothing industry accounts for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. We recently did an interview with Laura Krarup Frandsen who said: “A newly published report recently revealed that the sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year. The government rejected to take action on the issue with bans and legislations, and instead encouraged the industry to voluntarily solve the problem.”

What do you think is the reason for this and can we continue to rely on voluntarism?

We cannot rely on companies to self-regulate themselves. It is ludicruous to think they would

MS: I believe that we are reaching critical mass regarding ethical fashion. Media in general is very interested in the subject and we have never had so many enquiries like this year about the subject. I was called to curate a great exhibit at the Ferragamo museum called “Sustainable Thinking” that will be open for one year in Florence. These are signals that we are moving in the right direction regarding sustainability in fashion.

The fact is that this approach will truly work when there is a lot of pressure from the consumers thus creating a strong grass root movement. It has to be backed by serious laws from governments.

We cannot rely on companies to self-regulate themselves. It is ludicruous to think they would. When profit and greed have been the only drivers for all businesses how can we think that the same people will develop an ethical mindset from one day to the next?

SV: Laura K. Frandsen also said in the interview: “Nobody wants to speak for the bad sides of the fashion industry”. Why do you think it is so difficult for the big players in the industry to position themselves sustainably (transparently)?

MS: Big companies are scared to take even small steps in the right direction because they think that if they do, the customers will ask, ‘Why aren’t they doing it for the whole production and for every aspect of the company?‘

We at Fashion Revolution believe that even small steps in the right direction are the right thing to do.

We know that is not an easy task to transform a big company into a totally transparent and sustainable operation in a short time, but you need to start somewhere. It is easier for small startups to set up the whole business model as a sustainable one from the very beginning.

Interview Marina Spadafora sustainable fashion industrySV: At the Haute Couture shows in Paris, I talked to many designers about sustainability in their collections. According to them, it is often the lacking materials that holds them back to realise sustainable designs.

MS: I just attended Pitti Filati a few weeks ago in Florence. Here you have all the major yarn manufacturers showing their new collections and there was a huge emphasis on sustainability. The same goes for Italian textile producers.

So, the offer is there, it exists, and there is no hiding behind this excuse of not finding enough sustainable resources.

SV: Are the new alternatives (PiñatexTENCEL, etc.), which are often advertised as sustainable, really sustainable in practice? Or are the problems with the new innovations simply being shifted under the cloak of sustainability?

Where there is a will there is a way

MS: I believe that there are a lot of great alternatives today that are sustainable like Piñatex, Vegen, FrumatOrange FiberEconyl and many more. I believe they are serious about their commitment to sustainability and that they offer great advantages.

Of course there are also all the sustainable natural materials like organic cotton, sustainably produced viscose and TENCEL, cruelty free silk and wool and so on.

SV: Does a designer nowadays have to make sacrifices in design because of the materials? Or could that be seen as the main challenge for a designer today?

MS: It is a creative challenge and designers should be happy to explore it.

I saw a wonderful collection by a young Peruvian designer called Mozh Mozh, where she used organic cotton canvass and covered it in plant based latex called Shiringa and made from the rubber that comes in the form of resin from trees. I also chose an outfit from Argentinian designer Nous Etudions made in Combucha, a material made from fermented green tea.

Where there is a will there is a way!

SV: What is for you as a designer the most sustainable material in the textile sector that is currently on the market?

MS: Recycling and up-cycling for me are two very interesting ways to go about sustainability. In nature I believe that hemp is the most sustainable natural material we can find.

Interview Marina Spadafora sustainable fashion industrySV: Which non-sustainable material should no longer be worn and why?

MS: Polyester comes from fossil fuels and when we wash it sheds a lot of microplastics that cannot be caught by the washing machine filters and ends up in rivers and in the sea and ultimately in the food chain.

Even PET that is recycled from plastic bottles should be washed in special bags that retain the microplastic particles.

SV: You also act as the country coordinator of Fashion Revolution in Italy. The organisation asks the question “Who made my clothes?”. This question refers also to the salaries paid in the fashion industry. With the current system of outsourcing and profit optimisation, can fair wages ever be paid in your opinion?

MS: I believe we are moving in the right direction and there are many great organisations like Fair Wear and Clean Clothes Campaign that, together with Fashion Revolution, are asking governments to raise the minimum wage and get closer to the living wage. In Cambodia and Bangladesh there were some improvements.

We must never stop until this industry becomes one that we can be proud of!

Here you can watch a speech from Marina Spadafora about the consumers power for TEDx. AttentionYouTube stores data about the website visitor when the video is played.

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We can’t solve the over-consumption with more consumer goods – Laura Krarup Frandsen

Laura Krarup Frandsen-min
Pictures by Daniel Sims

The Designer Laura Krarup Frandsen about her fight and approach for a change in the fashion industry. “This is not the end of fashion, but the destructive fashion system as we know it. It’s a new beginning in fashion, not driven by consumption, but by creativity.”

Suzanna Vock: Laura, you didn’t show a graduation collection, what was the reason?

Laura Krarup Frandsen: During my MA studies, I became more aware of the extent and urgency of the climate crisis we’re in, and a simultaneous first hand experience in why it is impossible to solve from within the fashion industry.

We’re in the midst of a climate crisis and ecological breakdown, facing not only the threats of the rising global temperature, higher sea levels, droughts and more frequent natural disasters, but also the serious struggle to meet our basic needs such as food and water in a near future. The planet is crumbling under our weight and the people already paying the highest price, are the ones who has done the least damage.

We are facing the biggest threat of human history, but our educational system is not following up with plans of emergency action, nor equipping us with necessary knowledge. We are being educated within – and for the same broken system that contributes to the crisis.

We are running out of time to solve the crisis and we have passed the change of slow adaption

I chose not to make a fashion collection, because I simply can no longer justify adding to the problem. We can not solve overconsumption with more consumer goods. I decided to spend my studies trying to influence the people around me and my course to positive changes, by creating awareness of the climate crisis, our destructive consumer habits and by implementing changes in our fashion studio. By collecting textile waste instead of sending it to landfill, I wanted to visualise how much waste we are accumulating, seeing the fashion studio as a microcosm of the industry, but also to question the wasteful collective consciousness that makes us accept this waste amount of waste material, in a time of resource scarcity. I showcased the collection of textile waste at my graduate show, to visualise the wasteful site of the industry that no-one wants to talk about.

We are running out of time to solve the crisis and we have passed the change of slow adaption. We need be frank and honest about the situation – even if the solution is to stop buying.

Pictures by Daniel Sims

SV: Since the collapse of the factory building in 2013, a lot has happened in the beginning, but in recent times it has been heard again and again that major players have difficulty implementing their promises of sustainable production and fair working conditions, or in some cases have completely abandoned them. Why do you think it is so difficult to remedy the situation?

Laura: We are trying to solve the problem within the same tools that creates it.

The Rana Plaza disaster forced us all to face the horrific human cost behind the clothes that we are wearing, but left us with little understanding of the problem. The devastating scale and high number of deaths, caused an immediate outcry and demand for better and safer working conditions, but as we were all looking to the brands to solve the problems, we failed to address the real issue: our high demands for clothes and consumer goods comes with deathly cost.

Shortly after the newest “pulse of the fashion industry” report recently revealed that the sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year

We are buying more clothes than ever before and using it much shorter, before discarding and replacing it. We see it as our right to buy clothes that we don’t need, but by exercising that “right”, we are violating real human rights and destroying the planet.

As long as we accept and maintain consumerism, we accept a system of exploitation that values profit over people and planet, and it will kill us.

Shortly after the newest “pulse of the fashion industry” report recently revealed that the sustainability progress in the fashion industry has slowed by a third in the past year, the government rejected to take action on the issue with bans and legislations, and instead encouraged the industry to voluntarily solve the problem. And so, we now have to ask ourselves, not as consumers, but as human beings: Is fashion to die for?

While it is absolutely crucial to keep focussing on workers rights, we need to face the fact that business as usual will lead to unthinkable disaster, affecting everyone. If we carry on with this system, we dismiss the fact that many of these workers are the same people that are already being affected the most by the climate crisis. It is the same people that are affected by deathly heatwaves, droughts and floods. It is the same people that are lacking access to clean water, dealing with heavy air pollution, struggling to grow food crops because their land is being exhausted by pesticide intensive cotton and polluted by oil used for polyester. Climate justice is social justice, and that is something we should all be fighting for!

Laura Krarup Frandsen Interview for GWAND Sustainable Fashion Festival
Picture by Daniel Sims

SV: The fashion industry is the second worst in terms of causing environmental problems. In addition there are often poor working conditions in the producing countries. In your opinion, what must change and how can this be achieved?

Laura: Everything must change. We are in an emergency situation and we need emergency action.

The fashion industry currently accounts for about 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and is expected to increase with 81% by 2030. According to the Ellen MacArthur foundation, if we carry on as usual, by 2050 the industry could be using more than a quarter of the carbon budget associated with 2°C global heating. We simply cannot afford to carry on, if we want an inhabitable planet for the children of today. We are now in midst of a sixth mass extinction. Our natural systems are dying and thereby the basis of all life. In the past 40 years, we have already destroyed a third of all arable land, and by 2050 we need to to grow 50% more food to meet the demands of a growing population. We need 1,7 planet earths to support our current lifestyles, but if everyone consumed like the average EU resident, we would need 2,8. We are consuming the planet and ourselves to death, and the worst thing we can do is to continue as usual. We, in the western world, can easily afford to give up some of our luxuries and that is what we need to do.

We need to change the system. We need to question how we can allow big corporations and brands to profit on exploitation. We need to ask how we can still justify, that clothing production is out-sourced and moved between production countries according to who allows the lowest pay. We need to ask how we can still accept that people are lacking clean water in the same countries that grow our water intensive cotton and chemically treat our textiles, so we can buy clothes that we don’t need. We need to teach and learn humanity and compassion and respect for all living. We must demand being humans before consumers.

It seems that the young people today understand more of the urgency for action than most of the older generations

SV: Young people are very committed to the environment at Fridays for Future at the moment. The movement has been growing rapidly in a short period of time. Even though the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters world wide, fashion is not as much discussed as food or traffic in terms of sustainability. Why?

Laura: I am absolutely impressed with the youth and their engagement with – and understanding of the situation we’re in. They have known about the threats of climate change their entire lives, they know that their future is at stake and they are leading the way in demanding action.

But no-one can expect the youth to solve the climate crisis, and yet the responsibility is somehow left with them.

It seems that the young people today understand more of the urgency for action than most of the older generations, but at the same time, they have been brought up in a world of mass consumption, overexposed to an immoral advertising industry teaching them how to be good consumers as opposed to good human beings.

We are taught to trust the government and that our leaders are acting in our interests, so surely, when they calmly dismiss the crisis as something not to worry about, we want to believe that. We believe in consumer rights and that big corporations do their uttermost to act in responsible ways, so when a brand is marked “green”, “sustainable” and “eco friendly”, surely they must be? The truth is that “Sustainability” has become a buzzword, enabling us to carry on as usual, by replacing one product with another, without really changing our consumer habits. But nothing is sustainable when produced of planetary overdraft. We need to tell the truth. We must slam the breaks.

The massive youth movement shows exactly that young people genuinely care and they want to do the right thing, but that comes with education. As long as we keep pretending that there is nothing to worry about, we are not only lying to the young people, but stealing their future before their very eyes.

I think the young people are better than anyone to buy second hand clothes and to be creative with what they have, and this is exactly how fashion should evolve.

Laura Krarup Frandsen Interview for GWAND Sustainable Fashion Festival
Pictures by Daniel Sims

SV: You are also active in Extinction Rebellion which also fights against climate change. Now there is a campaign #BoycottFashion. What is this campaign about and how can I get involved?

Laura: Extinction Rebellion is asking for what is necessary – not just what is possible within the current system. We need to rethink the way we live and to be brave enough to accept that things must change, in order to prevent disaster.

We launched the xr.boycottfashion campaign with a die-in at my RCA fashion graduate show, because we wanted to tell to truth to – and at the forefront of fashion: that fashion is killing us.

The xr.boycottfashion is one year direct action to disrupt the fashion industry, demanding climate justice and to push towards the change that is needed, by asking people to sign up and join us in not buying any new clothes for a year.

This is not the end of fashion, but the destructive fashion system as we know it. It’s a new beginning of fashion – one that is not lead by consumption but by creativity. We have an abundance of clothes in existence already – now we need to put that to use. Reuse, rework and repair what we’ve already got and buy, swap and share what is already in existence. Nothing is easy on your own, but everything is possible when you are enough people doing it together. We want this to be a platform of encouragement, solidarity and inspiration to engage with our clothes in new ways and to end the system of overconsumption.

Follow @xr.boycottfashion on instagram, sign the pledge on and be part of our journey towards a new fashion system. Share your image, your reasons for boycott and pass on the message to your friends. Because fashion is not to die for!