While part one of our conversation with Sophia Yang was focused a lot on fashion’s colonial roots and how colonialist systems are really still embedded in fashion today.
Part two of our conversation is much more focused on the solutions, discussing how we can create a more equitable and intersectional fashion ecosystem.
Sophia, the Founder & Executive Director of ethical fashion organization Threading Change, is sharing:
- How we can get started with or continue fashion activism
- What artivism is and how it could bring more people into the sustainable fashion and social justice movements
- The importance of engaging youth in ethical fashion
- … and more.
Tune in to this episode of the Conscious Style Podcast below, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Google Podcasts, or anywhere you listen to podcasts!
The transcript of this episode of the Conscious Style Podcast is below.
ELIZABETH JOY: Hey there, and welcome or welcome back to the Conscious Style Podcast. This episode is the second part of my conversation with Sophia Yang, so be sure to listen to part one first, if you have not already.
The previous episode was focused a lot on fashion’s colonial roots and how colonial systems are still really embedded in fashion today. Whereas this episode is going to be a lot more focused on the solutions on how we can create a more equitable and intersectional fashion ecosystem.
Sophia, who is the Founder and Executive Director of the ethical fashion organization Threading Change is sharing how we can get started with or continue our fashion activism, what artivism is and how it could bring more people into this sustainable fashion and social justice movements, the importance of engaging youth in ethical fashion, and more.
One quick thing before we get started: make sure that you are subscribed — or following depending on your podcast app — to the Conscious Style Podcast so that you do not miss any other conversations we’ll be having on this show.
And, you can also sign up for our weekly newsletter, the Conscious Edit, for episode updates and a whole lot more about the ethical and sustainable fashion space. I’m sharing articles I’m reading, videos I’m watching, other podcasts I’m listening to, conscious organizations and brands to check out, DIYs to make, and more.
So you can sign up for that at consciouslifeandstyle.com/edit and the link will also be in the episode description. Okay, now we are getting back into this conversation with Sophia! And to remind you, we left off part one with Sophia talking about the need to de-commoditize and decolonize fashion.
And so we’re picking up here with Sophia sharing her perspectives on how we can decolonize fashion and create a more intersectional future for fashion.
SOPHIA YANG: So intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an amazing critical race theory author who’s a Black author. And she points to how different elements such as race, identity, socioeconomic background, and also how other factors inform our lived experience.
And how there are different issues — ranging from economic barriers, social barriers, environmental barriers, and factors that are not issues working in silos, but rather working in tandem.
And that’s why some communities face certain hardships more than others.
So we look at it from this, this lens, we need to, as I mentioned previously, go beyond the one-size-fits-all solution because what’s going to be working in Canada is not going to work necessarily in China.
And we know that but in order to actually implement these solutions take much more work. And also it takes a myriad of responsibilities — and sometimes it can take an army to do.
So, I think as we work to dismantle these systems, it’s important to recognize that the community that has existed in some of these regions, for example, garment workers in China, they’re the ones that really have to be the ones leading the work.
And I know that’s easier said than done, because Fashion Revolution has done a great job of educating a lot of people working in the garment sector about how to unionize, and how they can stand up for their rights, and some people have actually gotten killed for doing that.
So I’m not suggesting that they’re all of the sudden going to revolt and get rid of their jobs. I’m saying that for people that are going in and wanting to do the work, we need to have a robust understanding of the community.
And it’s more than just… I talked to them over five Zoom meetings.
It’s a matter of understanding how a lot of these systems of oppression have been ingrained in their family structures, ingrained in generational trauma.
And that in dismantling these systems, it takes more than just a western country coming in and quote-unquote saving them.
It’s also understanding how different policy instruments in those certain regions and also how consumers in regions where we are consuming fashion could think about how we can come together to raise impact that’s based on a collective voice.
Because the truth of the matter is, a lot of these garment workers they’re feeling very disenfranchised.
And why wouldn’t they?
They have generational trauma, people working in the garment factories like slave labor for aeons.
There’s lots of families in Bangladesh where they have taken their kids to the factory and their kids are there with their mom, as young as when they’re three years old, and they really grew up in the garment factory, right?
I think it takes a level of realism and understanding that there needs to be people that are at every single level to ensure that this is not something that can just be done with one group of people, but seeing how we can apply solutions by proper consultation.
But I also think that the western solutions, the reason why I say they’re not the best to adopt is because some of the western solutions are inherently rooted in colonialism with a western sustainability narrative really thinking like:
How do we define sustainability? How can we drive impact? How can we get a return on investment? How can we ensure that the way we’re speaking about sustainability is going to get the general public to perceive us in a good way?
You can’t be putting a price on people.
You can’t be putting a price so emissions reduction.
You can’t be putting a price on livelihoods.
It’s really about looking beyond corporate social responsibility and thinking about the social rights of people, of collective beings.
The rights of people to exist, and also have access to clean water, clean air, and shelter, just like everybody else.
So as you can see, the fashion injustices that are happening, a lot of it is kind of hidden behind this veil of corporate social responsibility.
I know H&M is a company that has, tried to really show how they are leading the way in sustainability. And perhaps they are in some aspects…
But you cannot tell me that you’re going to now have bike delivery of people’s orders and you’re now going to give people a gift voucher for taking their clothes back to be recycled, when you still don’t pay your garment workers; when you still don’t ensure that they have equitable working conditions; when they’re still embroiled in modern day slavery.
We don’t need you to pay lip service, we need you to step it up. We don’t need you to be there, saying ‘we’re doing so much to reduce emissions’. You’re doing the bare minimum because you’re the one responsible for all these emissions.
We’re not here to clap people on the back for doing the bare minimum, we’re here because we want to thread change.
And I think the reason why we talk about this in such a passionate way is because we need to be centering BIPOC communities — that is Black Indigenous People of Color — whose culture has always had a really great symbiotic relationship with the natural world.
When you think about a lot of different designers’ inspiration for their fashion brands, there are just so many examples of people taking inspiration from Chinese culture from Black and Latinx culture, and making different types of clothing and then yielding a huge profit from that cultural appropriation.
It happens all the time. And yet, there are still people in these countries that have to sort through donated clothes, people in these countries that don’t have any fair pay.
They’re literally embroiled in slave labor.
And I think when we think about posing the solutions that are centering these communities at the end of the day, it is then that we understand how the system at large was not built to benefit those in lower positions of power.
It was not made so that garment workers can escape.
So what’s happening right now with corporate social responsibility, is that it’s really just more of a blanket solution.
So I think working collectively, it’s really a matter of consumer education and awareness, coupled with industry transformation.
You cannot decolonize fashion and dismantle these systems, just based on one of these alone — it has to be a myriad of solutions.
And I think these two work in tandem, consumer education and also industry transformation with consumers demanding for change, the industry actively taking in the responsibility…
But then also government bodies and governing structures playing a policy role in what can’t be thrown out, what can be donated, what can be imported, having rules and laws against slave labor is really a way that we can get to a better fashion ecosystem.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, there’s clearly a lot of work to be done in fashion. And when we talk about these huge, deeply embedded fashion systems, we have to talk about big solutions and multiple solutions.
And we can’t ignore that we do need more than individual conscious consumerism to shift these massive forces. We also need fashion activism, we need consumer activism.
So with all of your experience in research and policy, working for governmental agencies and nonprofits, could you share your advice for getting started or continuing with fashion activism?
SOPHIA: Yeah, I love this question because I feel like I talk about problems a lot — let’s talk solutions!
So in terms of advice, I kind of have a tri-impact model when I think about the solutions. And this is kind of the model we employed at Threading Change as well.
So I think the solution, as I mentioned previously, is not just on conscious consumerism or consumer education. It’s not just about industry transformation. It’s not even just on policy instruments. It’s, it’s all three, right?
But I think talking to your friends and family, and understanding that your choices do impact the larger system and every single individual choice has an impact.
And to never feel little or never feel useless because you are one person.
Because your choices do have so much power. But beyond just shopping less.
I try to reject a narrative that the only way consumers can make a difference is by shopping or voting with their dollar. Oh, buy less stuff, thrift more, don’t donate.
Those are the solutions that are sometimes presented. I don’t think that’s enough.
I think if you could write to these brands. There are great templates on Remake. World, there are great templates on FashionRevolution.org, that have pre-made templates on how you can write to brands.
You can say: Dear Brand blank, I love your clothes, but I’m really concerned about the Uighur slave trade right now happening in northeastern China, I’m really concerned about people not getting equitable pay, and I implore you to think about x y, z. And, can you point me to more resources?
Another great thing you could do is to leave reviews on companies’ websites — companies really, really care a lot about their reviews. So if you like their clothing you can say, I like these pants a lot but I wonder if they’re made from slave labor.
When you pose these questions, as a consumer, it does much more than just voting with your dollar. Because even if you’re not buying from H&M, there’s going to be a bunch of other people that do, right?
So it’s very important to think about this notion of being a conscious fashion activist more than just a consumer.
Talking to your friends and family is also a very, very great solution because I feel like now more than ever, there are more people every single day becoming aware of the fashion activism movement, a lot of the solutions that people know about is still in the notion of shop less, which is not the only solution as I recommended.
And, I say industry transformation is also really important because industries are ultimately driven by what consumers want.
If consumers are demanding transparency, demanding traceability, demanding better materials, demanding that brands tell the truth, and tell them how much they’re paying garment workers, and demanding to know where do my clothes really go, and who made my clothes?
And they’re saying this in boardrooms, saying this in email templates, and they’re saying this on the brand reviews, if they’re doing protests when they’re allowed to happen in person outside the store, these are all things that will ultimately help the industry transform.
If you think you’re just one person that can’t make a difference, you can, you absolutely can.
And I think this industry transformation is happening in a lot of brands that want to be ethical from the get-go.
And one of the projects of Threading Change, which is our Global Innovation Story Map, is that we want to be bringing these brand stories that are doing the most in terms of ethics. Whether it’s traceability, transparency, materiality, recycling, take-back (programs), or equitable pay.
This is the reason why we have our Global Story Innovation Map. And we are bringing their stories to the United Nations Conference as a direct reply to some of these big brands being there. And we’re saying: look, here are brands that are really leading the way and they’re not doing it because they’re here to clean up their spilled milk.
They’re doing it because they actually care and they’re doing it since the beginning and it’s not greenwashing.
And I think to say this, in some ways makes me think, oh boy, this definitely is a bold thing to do!
But I think it’s important because I know people working for H&M and working at some of these brands that are really, really good people.
They’re not there because they want to see all these garment workers starve, right? Like they have a conscience.
But sometimes when you’re in the industry, and when you’re embroiled in making a certain cut, you have to accomplish this key performance indicator, you have to do this or do that as indicated by the company, you’re also trapped within that system.
So I think this notion of working on the inside to drive industry change is also important. So at Threading Change, although we do call out to all these big brands, at the end of the day, if they’re doing something good, we will still say I like that you did this, however, I implore you to think about it this way.
And one of our role model organizations Canopy Planet. They do an amazing job helping save endangered old-growth forests from being cut down for fashion.
And they really do that well by collaborating with some of these industries. And I think the third part of that is really the policy instruments that government bodies need to employ.
I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, that when I tried to find out in my local city, Vancouver, where all the clothing donations and textiles waste goes, I had a hard time finding out.
Because when I talked to the regional government, they kind of pointed a finger more at the provincial government on their textiles recycling policy. Then I realized my local provincial government of British Columbia didn’t even have a textile recycling policy.
But they had one for fire alarms out of all things, which is so random! But they don’t have one for textiles? And there’s so much textiles going to the landfill.
So government plays a huge, HUGE role in ensuring that we’re not allowing slave labor-made products to come in and ensuring that we’re not throwing clothing away to certain other regions.
But right now, this policy aspect is not really happening.
So I think it’s important for consumers to also write to their local MPs (members of parliament) and people within their local municipalities to ask where the clothing is going and what they can do to help.
So in retrospect, the consumer actually has so much power — beyond just buying less things.
And a lot of it has to do with keeping industry and government bodies accountable. If you don’t have the power to write the brief or to enact a law because we’re not the government, we have the power as people to come together to push for those changes.
ELIZABETH: Right. And we have so much power beyond what we do or don’t buy. Yes, that stuff matters and if we have the ability to, we should buy less, buy better, and I don’t want to take away from that.
But if we focus the sustainable fashion movement, only on our consumer choices, it becomes a bit exclusive. But then of course, activism sometimes can also feel exclusive or intimidating.
And that’s why I’m really excited to talk with you a little bit more about our artivism.
Could you tell us what artivism is and how it might be able to engage more people in activism?
SOPHIA: So, I come from a very traditional Chinese household where my parents really wanted me to be a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer.
And I kind of look back at it and laugh because I think those are all, really, really amazing professions and I think I could have maybe done well at one or two of them, but definitely not as an engineer.
And quick story, my Chinese name Yang Ya Cheng. Ya means sophisticated and Cheng is half of Gongcheng, which means sophisticated engineer. That’s my Chinese name.
Instead, my parents got a loud-mouthed environmentalist. So I think it’s pretty funny how that panned out!
So I did go to UBC and did a Bachelor of Science and I’ve always been someone who’s very, very interested in the arts, whether it’s writing — I’m an avid writer — whether it’s drawing — I’m not as good as drawing as I used to be — but writing is just my way to decompress and to flow.
And after the pandemic, when I had a reduction in my work hours in 2020, I learned how to DJ.
And learning how to DJ has been a really interesting experience because I’ve been able to talk about social change topics that I am very, very passionate about with those in my DJ community that never really talked about these topics.
As an example, I was setting up a live stream with some of my DJ friends and then we started talking about fashion.
I was talking to them about, H&M, the business models of Zara, and also how a lot of this labor is contracted overseas and how they’re pretty much in this model of modern-day slavery.
And two of my DJ friends are from Spain and they were like, wow, I didn’t know all of these things about Zara. That’s very shocking because Zara is a Spanish company.
It’s one of the largest companies ever to come out of Spain. People are very proud of Zara.
And I said, well let me kind of tell you the truth there…
So I kind of showed them some articles, showed them some of the research I’ve done, and they were shocked. And I think about how if we never had planned this live stream, I would have never really had the opportunity to talk about that with them.
Because music is what brings us together, right? Not talking about fashion.
So then I started to do this with other friends of mine in other communities.
So I would talk about fashion with my climate friends and start talking about climate change and climate justice with my DJ friends. And then I started talking about DJing with my fashion friends.
And I realized that when you use artivism, which is a way of using artistic mediums to further your activism — whether it’s music, whether it’s art, whether it’s spoken word, whether it’s dancing — you are then able to connect with people in an area that meets people where they’re at.
I am also an anti-racism and equity and justice consultant. And there have also been topics about anti-racism and equity that I’ve talked about with friends of mine that are not very involved in the social change space at all, that previously felt very uncomfortable talking about anti-racism and their privilege.
But once you approach it from meeting people where they’re at…
So in this case I met them in the terms that we’re all techno DJs, and we’re here doing music. But as we’re going through our music, there’s a bit of silence because we’re just kind of sifting through them.
I’m like, hey, have you heard about what happened with George Floyd? Like, yeah, I read about it, but I don’t really know too much. And then I approach a topic in a way that’s meeting them where they’re at.
And it’s been so fulfilling, having these conversations, because you understand that sometimes people are just afraid to say the wrong thing, but they actually want to be meaningfully engaged.
So through using music and my DJing as a way to do artivism, we’re currently planning a really fun month of events.
Not on a fun topic, though. It’s for Asian Heritage Month. And where I am in Vancouver actually was listed by Bloomberg on Saturday that it has the highest rates of anti-Asian hate in all of North America due to reported cases.
And me being Chinese Canadian, the pandemic has been very hard for me, my family, and my Asian friends.
I now have five friends that have heard the term “go back to China” in the last month or so and it is absolutely not okay.
And sometimes I start talking to people about this notion of anti-racism for the Chinese community, and they might be like: Okay, that sounds really terrible, but I’m not Chinese, so I can’t really talk about it or I don’t really know what to say.
So then I bought in this form of artivism, where we are doing a series of live stream events for the month of May.
We’re first having a policy discussion with different parliament members across Canada about the feasibility of implementing anti-racism policy.
And then with the second event being our live stream fundraiser for gathering artists, hoopers, dancers, DJs, live painters, spoken word poets, to come together and do a live stream to raise money towards different organizations working on anti-Asian racism and policy reform.
You just have to see that the people, the artists coming in, are not experts in anti-racism — they’re definitely not experts in anti-Asian racism.
But they’re there because they love art, and then they’re there because they want to contribute.
And by coming into their various artistic mediums, we are then able to drive further change.
I think sometimes that’s way more powerful than sending someone this policy document and being like here, read this and add your signature.
And they’re like, “oh okay, well, I did it”. But what does this do now?
They feel like they have direct buy into the cause and they feel much more included. I think that’s the beauty of activism, is that you’re really including everybody and meeting people where they’re at.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, that’s really inspiring to hear how you are using art to bring people together to engage people in these social justice movements who may have not been engaged otherwise.
There’s definitely a lot to be learned from that and from these events that you are putting together. And something else that I find really inspiring about Threading Change is that you are a youth-led organization.
So could you tell us why you believe it is so important to engage youth in the sustainable and ethical fashion movement?
SOPHIA: Absolutely. I think it’s so important to integrate youth because young people — so millennials and Gen Z that are under the age of 30 right now — are the largest consumers of fast fashion as an age demographic.
But, we are also the largest users of secondhand resale apps and also thrifting.
In our larger age group, while there are many fast fashion shoppers, there are also a lot of young people that are kind of rejecting that narrative that is really looking into how to be more conscious in their shopping, and then how to thrift and also use fashion as a way of activism.
And sometimes if you don’t think you’re an activist, refusing to buy from fast fashion brands can be a statement and a form of activism in itself.
Because the clothing is so cheap, and it’s so tempting to buy it sometimes rather than spending more money on an ethical piece. I think that is a statement.
And I think it’s so important to engage youth in the movement because as I say to everyone — it’s not just that we are the future generation.
We are the current generation. We are doing this now.
With the Friday’s for Future movement, and also with pioneers like Greta [Thunburg], and also the many Indigenous youths, people of color youth from the Amazon, and also different parts of Africa, and also even the youth in the Philippines that I’ve met at global conferences.
There are so many youths that are at the forefront of this movement.
And they’re not doing it because they want to get that award, because they want to be recognized, or because they want to go in they want to “save” somebody.
They’re doing this because that’s their community, that’s their livelihood. That’s what they know. They’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
And I think that it’s important to engage youth because there are a lot of up-and-coming designers that really have the power to shift what’s possible in the fashion industry.
I remember when I attended a conference in early 2020, before COVID hit, and I got the chance to meet the head of sustainability at Aritzia, which is a really popular fashion brand here in Vancouver… they do a lot of office wear kinds of clothing, but it’s more expensive than Zara.
And I asked her what is the largest issue facing the fashion industry today?
And she said immediately: designers being taught how to design for profit and not for circularity.
There’s a severe lack of designers actually learning in fashion schools how to create a fully circular piece, a fully circular garment, how to source material sustainably, and what to do with it after, or even how to use biodegradable materials to make certain pieces of clothing.
And if we’re able to educate young people about the implications of the fashion industry and how their choices play such a huge role, we’re able to engage a generation that’s really going to be thinking about clothing as more than just commodities, but really as stories.
So we’re a youth-led organization because our mission is something called the six F’s, which is a feminist, fossil, fuel, free, fashion, future.
We’re actively thinking about the future, of young people being the leaders of today and also the leaders of tomorrow, being the future.
We think it’s so important to make sure that we give youth the capacity-building skills, the professional skills, and also the confidence to know that they can do this.
They are the ones who will be leading the way; many young people already are leading the way.
And the reason why we’re youth-led is that I got to attend the two COP conferences as a young person.
I think there’s this unspoken respect when you are a young person in a crowded room. Maybe you don’t have the highest education in the room, maybe you don’t have a Ph.D., maybe you don’t have 10 plus years of work experience.
But do you know what you have? You have passion, you have grit, you have curiosity, you have tenacity, you have determination — and that will take you very far.
We definitely want to be at the forefront in bringing about these amazing young changemakers in giving them the knowledge but also helping them lead us along the way.
ELIZABETH: Absolutely. So how can listeners get involved with Threading Change’s various initiatives and campaigns?
SOPHIA: Yeah, that’s a great question. So we just had our Clothes Buster’s campaign wrap up in April.
And that was a really great campaign where we really demystified — or, you know, Clothes Busters was kind of like Mythbusters, busting popular fashion myths.
And I think with that campaign, people were really interested in the decolonization piece, which I mentioned a lot today.
And also looking at how different groups have really utilized fashion as a force for good. One being Indigenous groups in Canada. You may have heard the horrific incidents of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
They just had their memorial day last week, and that’s an annual event. They have something called the Red Dress Movement. And that has really helped bring this issue more to the limelight, using fashion activism for social change.
So, kind of building on that, we’re going to be doing a webinar series in mid-June all the way to mid-August that’s going to be talking about fashion and climate.
So in these episodes, we’ll be examining fossil fuel divestment in the fashion industry [and exploring] if that’s possible.
A company such as Levi’s has successfully divested, so we’ll be talking about changemakers from various not-for-profits that helped to drive this change.
Also [we will discuss] different materials that are being used in cellulose-based fabric. So plant-based fabrics, and what that means for deforestation and how can we make sure we’re not cutting down ancient old-growth forests.
And, also talking to people about how if you want to start a truly sustainable brand — from the environmental implications of emissions reduction, renewable energy, and also no water pollution, such as how denim production is very water-intensive — [we are discussing] ways that they can get started.
We will be talking to a few people from different sustainable brands as well.
I’m really excited about this episode because I’ll be also examining how to decolonize fashion from an Indigenous lens as it’s been used in Canada to further activism, and also further discussion about really important issues such as the murdered and missing Indigenous women and men.
And also in seeing how a lot of cultural revival of certain pieces of clothing and different modes of clothing is a great way to get the younger generation involved in better understanding cultural significance of a region.
So really exciting things to come in June for that!
We are currently also working to do various IG Lives. We want to do an IG Live once a week, we’re debating calling it Textile Thursdays or Feminist Fridays.
But there’ll be an IG Live happening on our Instagram with various different action activists, sustainable brand owners, and also different people working with brands to drive change.
I would also say that if you’re someone that’s interested to get involved with Threading Change, whether it’s in a volunteer capacity, or in a capacity to help with various projects, we would love to hear from you.
So you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have more information on our website in the coming weeks and how you can get involved as a volunteer, because we’re growing at a pretty exponential rate, and we definitely want to make sure we keep up with this growth.
Last but not least, we’re currently recruiting for different brands that have various ethical and sustainable practices to be featured on the Global Story Map.
So if your brand is interested in taking their story to the global UN Conference, and also get connected with other ethical brands that are in our network, it’s a really good opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas, and also get connected to young people that are eager to help, and also to help get connected to investors.
So our Global Story Map we hope to be launching in August. So stay tuned for that later this summer!
ELIZABETH: Lots going on there! I will link to all of that in the show notes so everybody can easily access that and learn more.
To wrap up, one final question that I ask to all of the guests on the show is: what would a better future for a fashion look like to you?
SOPHIA: I think for me, it’s what I spoke about previously, in that graphic about equality, equity, reality, and liberation.
A better fashion future to me means there’s liberation.
There’s the liberation of people working in the modern-day slave trade to make clothing pieces for us.
There’s liberation in people’s minds when viewing fashion away from viewing it as commodities, and instead as stories.
Liberation in understanding that we don’t always need to buy that new collection; that new season of clothes.
Liberation in that we are free to be who we want to be without being confined to what society tells us we have to be in that we don’t necessarily need to buy this or buy that to fit in.
And that sometimes the greatest form of activism and expression of yourself is your values and choosing to not support these fast fashion companies that have really built an empire off of people’s insecurities and off of us wanting to fit in.
To me, a better fashion future is also one that’s not with the global race to the bottom; where the Global South are the ones that are always getting the short end of the stick…
Whether it’s their local textile economies going underground because there’s nothing left of it, whether it’s jobs being taken away because everything’s becoming digitized, whether it’s how all of our clothing garbage is going to the Global South where they’re producing the clothes but they’re not actually reaping in any of the benefits.
And instead they’re just getting exploited and they’re getting overworked, and they’re just getting lots of garbage thrown at them.
I think a better fashion future, first and foremost is also seeing how we can actually have a robust collaboration between the consumer industry and also governing bodies, and not in a tokenistic way.
So it’s beyond just people thinking, let’s do a diverse collection. Here’s a Black model, here’s a Latinx model, an Asian model, boom.
That’s not diversity; that’s tokenism. That’s thinking of ways how you can drive more marketing schemes.
So there needs to be robust collaboration across the board in ensuring there’s more diversity, and also the different collaboration of actors.
We need to understand that there are better ways to really be in the fashion ecosystem away from these capitalist models.
There are ways you could do this where you can actually do a conscious collection where a large amount of your proceeds will go towards women working in garment factories who have traditionally been disenfranchised.
There are ways for governments to get involved where they can mandate extended producer responsibility, where if H&M sold you that shirt, H&M is going to be responsible for the recycling of that shirt afterwards as well… because they’re the ones that made a profit in the first place.
I think there are a lot of possibilities of what a better fashion future can look like.
But it’s only going to happen if we have consumers, industry, and also government bodies working together.
I know that’s not something that can be done overnight, but it’s not something that we start tomorrow.
It’s something we start today.
It’s something that’s already overdue.
It’s something that we all have to collectively think about as we drive our fashion future to be one that is the 6 F’s: a feminist, fossil-fuel, free, fashion, future.
ELIZABETH: And that’s a wrap! For this episode, be sure to take a look at the episode description in your podcast app for the links referenced in this episode, as well as the various links to learn more about today’s guest.
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About Sophia and Threading Change:
Sophia Yang is the Founder & Executive Director of Threading Change a youth-led ethical fashion organization working at the intersections of climate, gender, and racial justice in alignment with the necessary transition to a circular economy.
Originally born in China but raised in Calgary, Alberta, Sophia draws on her multitude of diverse work and volunteer experiences as the drivers for her holistic approach and perspective on the protection of our environment. As a dedicated climate justice changemaker, Sophia has worked for over a dozen environmental organizations ranging from federal government agencies (Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada), NGOs (Nature Conservancy of Canada, SPEC, Parkbus, CityHive), industry (CNRL), and academia (UBC, SFU).
Sophia is the recipient of the Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists award in 2017 and 2018, has attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 24 & 25) twice as a British Columbian Youth Delegate, and DJs as ‘THIS IS: KALEIDO’ in her spare time.
Threading Change was born because Sophia wanted to help raise young people’s voices in one of our world’s most polluting industries—the fashion industry. Doing so for our planet, and people.