Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Catwalk in a Baobab Forest

Dakar Fashion Week (December 12-13, 2020) was different this year after moving its catwalk to a baobab forest – to be more socially-distant amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

And it had a message for the world: sustainability is in style. 

The event, held in Senegal carried the theme of environmental responsibility, and featured 20 designers whose collections – both those on the runway and sold in boutiques – have long been handmade on the continent rather than mass produced in factories. 

"A lot of the designers had already been doing 'slow fashion' but they didn't know it", said its initiator, Adama Amanda Ndiaye (left), a Senegalese fashion designer who also goes by the name Adama Paris, which is also the name of the label she owns and operates. 

"It's made here and it's not made in huge quantities. We were so ashamed of that for years but now we are proud of it. This is luxury". 

In what has become known as "fast fashion", consumers, most notably in the West, are buying and discarding clothes at an alarming rate, causing industry-related pollution to soar. 

The average number of times a garment is worn before it is discarded has decreased by 36% over the last 15 years, according to a 2017 report by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. And each year, the production and dying of materials consumes about 100 million tonnes of non-renewable resources and emits vast amounts of greenhouse gases, the report states. 

In 2015 alone, carbon emissions from textile production totaled more than that of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Furthermore, the toxic chemicals released from the dyeing and treatment of textiles is responsible for 20% of global industrial water pollution. 

The fashion industry has been negligently wasteful. Hopefully, Dakar Fashion Week signals a reset.

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