June 15, 2020
During mankind’s existence, we invented clothing. We needed animal hides to protect our vulnerable bodies from the elements. That coexistence with nature allowed us to survive in balance with our surroundings. Thousands of years later, farming animals for their fur became a diabolical way to express wealth. While we have come a long way from viewing Mink and Sable as luxury garments, there is another destructive aspect of the fashion industry going unnoticed by nearly everyone – including me before I took the time to write this article. Specifically, the horrific environmental damage the industrial fashion industry promotes. There is so much waste, and so many toxic materials are involved. It was all happening out of my sight and mind. This is probably true for most of us. But it’s time to change that.
Sustainable Fashion is advocating change for the better. There are a handful of young, energetic designers around the world who are leading the charge. Vietnam is blessed to have the amazingly talented and forward-thinking designer Lê Ngọc Hà Thu who is a finalist in the menswear division of the prestigious Redress Design Award.
Thu’s designs hold their own regardless. But when you come to appreciate her focus on the three principles of Zero-waste, Up-cycling, and Reconstruction, her designs become all the more stunning. It shows what can be done to make people look awesome and protect the environment and our bodies at the same time.
Thu, who holds a Higher National Diploma in Fashion and Textiles from the London College for Design and Fashion, Vietnam, and is currently working as a fashion designer at Magenta Vintage in Hanoi. An Incredibly busy woman to be sure. She also writes an English language blog called Vandalism In Vogue. Her article there about Zero-Waste pattern cutting is so interesting – especially how it relates to ancient methods.
Fast Fashion is evil. Straight from the dictionary, you can see how toxic it is. The allure of cheap trendy disposable clothing to the masses is something we can’t deny. But we can fight against it with education the same way education about the dangers of smoking eventually cut deep into the tobacco industry. What it takes is a generation of influential artists and activists like Thu and Redress to scream loudly and fiercely. Then show us we can have our cake and eat it too. We can look great, tough, cool, hip, sexy, and at the same time, have a minimal environmental impact.
Sustainable Fashion goes beyond the environment too. Thu writes in terms of anti-exploitation, anti-ageism, and anti-consumerism, amongst others. She is a powerhouse of a thinker and sets an amazing example of how an inspired generation of Vietnamese women can have a massive impact on the world. When I started out to write this article, I was digging in and learning and learning. Today I sat down with my two teenage kids was like, “Hey, you guys have to talk about this, and we should change some things we are doing as consumers.” So thank you Thu! Best of luck with Redress, and no matter what, you are a huge winner and will make a giant impact in the future.