The truth of Fashion Universe
It is widely known that the reputation of the fashion industry is rather negative. The sustainability issue of the industry is just one of many. Poor working conditions and production challenges are tainting the reputation further. Change in the industry is necessary to save the planet, but also to fight other deep-rooted issues. Despite the growing attention toward the issues within the industry, change must start from the inside. Pioneers in the industry, such as Lais Ribeiro, show us how it’s done. But first, it is necessary to understand exactly what needs to change.
The industry is facing many different ethical issues. Many fashion brands produce their clothing in developing country. This is due to cheaper labor requirements in these countries, as people depend on such companies to have jobs. Despite the fact that this generates jobs, the employees do not receive enough compensation. Most employees work below living wages and are unable to purchase bare necessities with their wages. Furthermore, child labour is another issue in these developing countries. Due to high levels of unemployment, families become desperate for money and send their children to work. Companies take advantage of this. In addition to these conditions, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. The natural resources used to create clothing, combined with the pesticides used and water pollution are just a few of the reasons this industry is so wasteful. A single cotton t-shirt requires 3 years of drinking water for a singular person. It is evident that the industry needs to change. But how?
If you ask a model whether she has been disrespected in the industry before, the answer will be yes. Although the industry has become more inclusive, it is not nearly where it should be. Body shaming, racism, and judgement due to their background are just a few issues models face in their job. Especially racism is something Lais Ribeiro, a Brazilian supermodel, has experienced first-hand. When she came to castings, the directors told her too many black models have already been hired. As she watched the show, she barely spotted three women of color on the runway. Although the industry has been changing, the pace remains very slow. When she shot the cover for a Brazilian magazine years later, she was the first black model on the cover – although Brazil is an extremely diverse country. Now that models have a louder voice, it is important they use it to drive change.
As an activist in the industry, Lais is determined to accelerate change. Born To Fashion is a Brazilian TV show which features only transgender women.
The women compete to be the next face in Brazilian fashion. Lais Ribeiro refers to this project as one of her favorite jobs she has done as a model. The women on the show share their experiences, making themselves vulnerable. They open up about the challenges they face in the industry.
Lais’ mission was to give her voice to these women and the things they have gone through. Due to the discrimination in the industry, these women were unable to show their talent. Through this opportunity, they can share their stories and become successful. Lais Ribeiro emphasizes the importance of using the voice you have to change the industry from within. This is a step in the right direction for inclusivity in the industry. However, there is still much more than needs to happen.
Whether it is fashion students, designers or employees of the industry – diversity in the industry is underrepresented. It begins in universities and continues through internships, employment and even leadership positions. Although change has been visible, has it been enough? The diversity efforts of brands mostly include hiring one person of color or LGBTQ+ background. There employees are expected to navigate the entire brands’ diversity. However, people of color need to be present every step of the way. They need to be involved in the decision-making process. Brands such as Ulta have started incentives to invest $8.5 million to support black-owned, founded and led brands. This is more than double the investment of the previous year. Nevertheless, it remains questionable how integrated this diversity actually is.
With so much uncertainty regarding the future, what will happen in the fashion industry? Fashion is an evolution. It has evolved from the handcraft, through the industrial revolution, to where it is now. The next step in this path is to become sustainable and diverse. There are many problems, and the proposed solutions need to save our planet. The right way is to be sustainable, as there is no other choice or planet to move to. Individuals have realised the impact of the fashion industry and are opting toward more sustainable choices. Now, it is the brands turn to find sustainability within themselves. It needs to be a priority for anyone. The change within the industry has a long way to go. Nevertheless, the growing awareness and slow change are showing it is on the right path.
Lais Ribeiro is one of the most prestigious names in the fashion industry. She studied in her home country of Brazil to become a nurse before she was revealed by the JOY Management model contest in 2009. Lais has worked alongside the biggest brands, such as Dior, Versace, Gucci, and Givenchy. She is a spokesperson for autism, a condition of her 13-year-old son. Furthermore, she is fighting to include black and transgender talent in the industry. As a daughter of a Portuguese teacher and a civil servant, she overcame challenges and is taking the name of Brazil around the world. Simultaneously, she is using fashion as a tool to include diversity and open up opportunities.
Fernanda Simon is the executive director at fashion revolution brazil and the sustainability editor for vogue brazil. She studied fashion at Santa Marcelina College, before starting her career in fashion and sustainability 10 years ago in England. She worked with pioneering initiatives and professionals like Jocelyn Whipple. Fernanda was responsible for bringing the fashion revolution movement to Brazil. She has led campaigns, projects, and events regarding sustainability for years now. Fernanda was nominated as the first sustainability editor at Vogue Brazil and has been in the position for over a year.
Fernanda believes that fashion is an important tool of transformation. She studied fashion at Santa Marcelina College, but it was in England that she started her career with fashion and sustainability, more than 10 years ago, working with pioneering initiatives and professionals like Jocelyn Whipple. Fernanda was responsible for bringing the global Fashion Revolution movement to Brazil, which today is established as Instituto Fashion Revolution Brasil and Fernanda is executive director. For years she has led campaigns, projects and events on the subject. Fernanda was nominated as the first sustainability editor at Vogue Brasil and has been in the position for over a year.
One of the most prestigious names in international fashion, Brazilian Lais Ribeiro was studying to be a nurse, until she was revealed by the JOY Management model contest in 2009.
Today, at the age of 32, she emerges among the most important top models of today, with a meteoric 10-year career, where she is ranked as one of the sexiest women in the world by Models.com and collects work for the biggest brands in the world, such as Dior, Versace, Gucci, Givenchy, among many others.
Alexandre’s mother, Lais became an important spokesperson for autism, a condition of her 13-year-old son, in addition to engaging in the fight against prejudice, seeking to include black and transgender talent in the fashion market.
Based in the United States since 2010, when she immigrated to work in international fashion, the Piauí native of Miguel Alves collects in her portfolio other prestigious titles such as “Brasileira do Ano – Revista Istoé”, “Modelo do Ano – Revista Quem – Ed Globo”, “30 under 30 – Forbes”, “Top 50 – Models.com”, “Sexiest models – Models.com”, “Hot 100 list – Maxim”, among others.
Daughter of a Portuguese teacher and a civil servant, Lais overcame challenges and takes the name of Brazil around the world, using fashion as a tool to include diversity and open up opportunities.
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