Editor's Note

Smarter, Not Faster

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Photo by Natalie Martin Showroom


he environmental and social impact of the garment industry is well documented. Organizations like the European Parliamentary Research Service, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, environmental consultancy Quantis, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency (just to name a very small handful) have done deep-dives into the price the planet pays for the manufacturing of clothing.

According to the World Resources Institute in a 2017 article: “Cotton farming is . . . responsible for 24 percent of insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides despite using about 3 percent of the world’s arable land.” The same article also notes that garment manufacturing accounts for 20 percent of industrial water pollution.

That’s just one set of statistics, found after a two-second Internet search. But numerous other studies point toward the same message: Fast fashion isn’t sustainable.

Which is why we need people like Rhonda P. Hill.

As the founder of E D G E (Emerging Designers Get Exposed), Hill is working towards reinventing fashion as both an art form and a sustainable industry. Her focus is on up-and-coming designers who fit some specific metrics: talent and artistry, cultural significance and sustainability. She thinks of this work as fashion intelligence, and she aims to foster it by supporting designers who care about their world and their culture, and apply that to wearable art. Her scope is global, and she sheds light on designers from all over the United States as well as Africa, Asia, Europe . . . and some here in Ventura County, too. The subject of our cover story is not interested in fads: Hill’s on the lookout for clothing that is smart. Original. With something to say and minimal ecological impact.

Clydia Richardson of Green Goddess Boutique in Camarillo feels similarly. “We must be mindful of what we buy, how much it costs and where it comes from!” she exclaims in a candid interview (Conversation). “There is a price that someone else has to pay for our lifestyle of throwing so much away in a dumpsite.” Her passion: quality vintage, recycled and upcycled designer couture, fine threads crafted with artistry and care, possessing an allure that never goes out of style.

Interior designer Amanda Masters (Profile) styles living spaces, not bodies. But her words echo the philosophy of Hill and Richardson. “I can’t stand the idea of junk furniture filling up our landfills. I prefer the idea of buying something that will stand the test of time. I still have a sofa that I bought 30 years ago.”

In planning our March issue, I did not seek out stories with eco-consciousness in mind. But the fact that it has emerged so clearly and organically as a theme points toward something that can’t be ignored. Human impacts on the environment are many and varied, and not sustainable. The way forward in fashion, as in everything else, is to make and consume less, work with what’s available, stop treating everything as disposable. Getting away from fast fashion isn’t just smart; more and more, it’s a necessity.


Back to top