Whether you shop at Primark or Prada, fashion designer Amy Powney shares the one key strategy you can apply now to make a positive impact.

Transcript: Climate Quickie:  The one fashion strategy to save the planet

TEDxLondon Climate Curious

Listen now: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS | Android

Next time you look into your wardrobe instead of seeing clothes, brands, logos, maybe your favourite dress, dig a little bit deeper into the story behind the clothes. Fashion designer Amy Powney joins Climate Curious to delve into the problems surrounding our pursuit of cheap clothing, from health and pollution to landfills that are visible from space. Whether you shop at Primark or Prada, Amy shares the one key strategy everyone can apply now to make a positive impact. Recorded live at TED Countdown Summit 2023.

Listen now: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS | Android


CC S04Q49 – Amy Powney (EDIT 1)

[00:00:00] Amy Powney:

[00:00:00] Amy Powney: Welcome to Climate Quickies. Bite sized nuggets of climate goodness from our TEDxLondon experts in under 5

[00:00:08] Maryam Pasha: minutes. In this week’s Climate Quickie, we’re learning about one fashion strategy that if we all applied, would go a long way in reducing the environmental impact to the fashion industry. And the stakes are pretty high with this one.

[00:00:21] Maryam Pasha: If the fashion industry were a country, it would rank third for carbon emissions, after China and the United States. So whether you wear Prada or primary, there’s one [00:00:30] action we can all do today that’s totally free, that can make a positive change. We spoke to Amy Powney, a fashion designer and the creative director at Mother of Pearl, to learn more.

[00:00:40] Maryam Pasha: And remember, stay curious.

[00:00:45] Amy Powney: I’m Amy Powney, I’m the creative director of Mother of Pearl, which is a fashion brand in London. One of the points I’m trying to get across is that clothes originate from natural resources. Um, that could be fossil fuels, it could be [00:01:00] agriculture, trees, worms, sheep, um, and a lot of people don’t understand that or don’t know that, and when it comes to polyester and synthetics, they’re fossil fuels.

[00:01:09] Amy Powney: Polyester is crude oil, which is the same fuel you put in your car. So my number one rule when it comes to sustainable buying, the first things first, is just make sure you absolutely love it and you’re going to wear it. Because the supply chains are really complicated and I’ll give you a bit of a debrief today, but the truth is, shopping less, buying better, but mostly just buying what you [00:01:30] love, is the number one rule, I always say.

[00:01:33] Amy Powney: Then in terms of buying better and supply chains, as a sort of general rule, if it’s a natural fiber, like cotton or linen, then trying to buy organically is really important. You have to kind of think about the same way your food is grown, um, so cotton is agriculture. It’s filled with pesticides at the farming stage, so you want to…

[00:01:52] Amy Powney: make it organic for the sake of the land. Uh, if you’re buying polyester or a synthetic fiber, buying recycled is better. [00:02:00] Those three cupro, lyocell and viscose all come from trees. So you want to make sure that it’s deforestation free. And when you think about that, just kind of imagine like FSC certified paper.

[00:02:11] Amy Powney: So, you know, when you buy paper and you make sure it’s recycled, you just want the same thing for your cellulose garment. There are the three things I’d say to look out for.

[00:02:24] Amy Powney: Greenwashing is rife, and I feel very sorry for everybody out there, because supply chains are complicated, [00:02:30] and when people make stamps of kind of, uh, uh, what’s, what’s the right word? When people make claims that they’ve done something correctly, how can you know when to believe it and when not to believe it?

[00:02:41] Amy Powney: So the statistic is, in the past four years, the number of clothes described as sustainable has quadrupled, and we know for sure that doesn’t mean that. And. The only thing I can tell you to do is check labels, and if people are claiming to be something, so if it’s [00:03:00] claiming to be sustainable cotton, for instance, check the label.

[00:03:03] Amy Powney: If it’s certified organic, then you kind of maybe know it’s a bit better. If they’re claiming that it’s a sustainable synthetic, is it recycled? And if they’re claiming that it’s a sustainable lyocell or viscose, is it… deforestation free. They’re the kind of things you need to look out for. Um, but the really complicated part is when it’s blended.

[00:03:23] Amy Powney: So I’m talking about 100 percent something. So often what people also do or what brands should I say often do [00:03:30] is call it sustainable because it might have 5%, let’s say 10 cell or 5 percent organic cotton in it, but it could have 95%. let’s say virgin polyester in it. So just look at the labels, try and do a little bit of research.

[00:03:43] Amy Powney: You can kind of get the basics and inform yourself a bit more. Um, but basically, in essence, if it’s a big corporation, if it’s a big brand, and really, if it’s any brand, don’t trust it, look at the label yourself. And I also always tell people to kind of follow them on social media [00:04:00] or sign up to their marketing because actually.

[00:04:02] Amy Powney: For us, for instance, our communication is two part is here’s our product, but here’s our story. And we continually talk about the two things, ethics and aesthetics hand in hand. We do that regularly. So if you find that there’s a company that you follow, I’ve just given you a little burst or a little moment of something.

[00:04:20] Amy Powney: The chances are, it’s just a marketing capsule. And what they’re doing for the most part isn’t good. So kind of see if it’s built into their DNA or not.[00:04:30] [00:04:35] Amy Powney: So in my talk today, my conclusion was, my ask of everybody in the room and everybody listening is that next time you look into your wardrobe, instead of seeing clothes, brands, logos, maybe your favorite dress, dig a little bit deeper to Narnia and instead see the vast and unique ecosystem that makes each piece individual and its inherent connection.

[00:04:56] Amy Powney: With the planet on which all of our lives depend.[00:05:00] [00:05:05] Amy Powney: We love to talk about diversity, inclusivity, um, positivity and empowerment and feminism. There are words that are used a lot and they’re often attached to a celebrity or an influencer or a figure wearing. the brand’s clothes. But we don’t talk about the women that actually make them. So I would say it isn’t feminism when we support one woman, [00:05:30] but not all the women in the chain.

[00:05:31] Amy Powney: The statistics are there’s 3. 4 billion people that work in the industry and 70 percent of them are women. And many of those people that make our clothes are not paid a living wage and they’re not even noticed. And my quote today was they are treated the same way as your polyester dress. Disposable and cheap.

[00:05:50] Amy Powney: The only thing that is cheaper today than it has ever been in history is clothes. You know, when you think about the rise of inflation and how much everything’s gone up and the way the world’s gone, the fact [00:06:00] that the only thing cheaper today than before is clothing. Yeah. Got to go to Narnia.

[00:06:06] Ben Hurst: Thanks for listening to this Quickie.

[00:06:08] Maryam Pasha: This episode podcast team at TEDxLondon. Until next time,

[00:06:13] Ben Hurst: stay curious.


Suggest a topic you’d like Climate Curious to cover.

Skip to content