What does good fashion look like?

Fashion For Good launched as a global initiative last year to answer this pretty big question.

The non-profit based in Amsterdam not only supports ethical companies working in fashion’s supply chain but is also working on a series of exhibitions and events aimed at shifting consumer consciousness away from disposable fashion.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 15 February 2018


The quick answer is there’s no simple answer.

The long answer is we need to explore alternative materials, methods and mindsets, at every stage of the fashion process.

I caught up with Jessica Radparvar at Fashion For Good in Amsterdam to explore their approach.

“For us, the good in fashion is not a judgement, there are many different ways you can approach good fashion,” she explains.

“We approach it through five pillars - good materials, good lives, good water, good energy, good economy.”

Fashion For Good was set up in 2017, partially funded by the C&A Foundation. It wants to reimagine every step of the fashion process from design to disposal. Doing ‘less bad’ is not good enough - it wants to help develop systems and products that benefit us and the planet.

This far reaching initiative occupies five floors of a historic townhouse right in the centre of Amsterdam. It’s surrounded by the kind of fast fashion global brands that we need to move away from but over the last few months it’s become a space where start-ups, designers and innovators can meet and network to collaborate in change up and down the global supply chain and answer that question the fast fashion question.

“If we bring together people who are working on things that might not think of as related, you can find and foster those unlikely allies who can lead to greater change,” says Radparvar.

Fashion For Good 1

Fashion For Good has hosted numerous events and conferences that all consider fashion's implications on the world

Circular economy

What’s central to each element of Fashion For Good is the move towards a more circular industry.

The C&A Foundation was a key partner in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Textiles Report (released in November 2017), that also outlines the only workable, sustainable vision for the fashion industry - to become a circular, closed loop system.

“Circularity is very central to our ambition because we have William McDonough as a co-founder, it’s the next frontier of fashion. Circular innovations are of particular interest to us but we still value the value chain - we focus on the areas of raw materials, dyeing and finishing, cut, make, sew and end of life - so each of these stages we have different innovations but we want to create that loop," explains Radparvar.

McDonough is a globally recognised product designer and author who developed not only the cradle-to-cradle philosophy but also products that adopt that sustainable approach. He recently partnered with Fashion For Good and C&A to create the world's first Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold T-shirt, made with organic cotton, safely dyed and produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The T-shirts are made to be recycled or they will break down to compost after just 11 weeks in the ground.

Closed loop systems and biodegradable products like this might just offer us a way to live with fast fashion and not drown in it.

"The good in fashion is not a judgement, there are many different ways you can approach good fashion...We approach it through five pillars - good materials, good lives, good water, good energy, good economy"

Consumer consciousness

As Radparvar and I talk we move down from the top floor which is a co-working space and cafe down to the ground floor, that is hosting a primary coloured, sensory overloading, interactive exhibition. 

It’s like walking into a pop art painting. 

It’s the first in a series designed to get consumer conversations started.

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Fashion For Good's launch exhibition was designed to get people sharing and talking about what good fashion looks like

“It’s about raising the level of consciousness that people have about their choices and how these choices affect different systems and that’s ultimately what we want people to leave here with,” explains Radparvar.

“Firstly we want to talk about the different issues that exist and spark awareness and hopefully give consumers more of a clear direction about what they can do about it. The systemic issues in fashion can seem so challenging to tackle for a consumer so we try and break it down. We want to give people concrete actions they can take away and use to start them on their good fashion journey.

The next phase is we’re going to create a good fashion experience in autumn 2018 - a space that can help shift minds and hearts of the consumption in the fashion industry."

She adds: "I’m a very strong believer that the consumer voice is incredibly powerful because big brands are driven by the marketplace and what their consumers want so if consumers can make more noise around the issues that they care about, then it’s better for all of us.”

So what's it going to take to make us jump ship from the fast fashion boat?

Innovation, the rapid development of circular systems and products, consumer change and buckets of inspiration. All of which Fashion For Good hopes to drive forward in the quest towards 'good'.

Join the community for sustainable living, ethical fashion and eco travel

Georgina Wilson-Powell 15 February 2018


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