15 Indigenous designers on what sustainable fashion is missing

Indigenous design is rooted in sustainability. Whether it’s contemporary or traditional works, Indigenous artists in North America today approach their creation process in the same way that their ancestors did: with a mutual respect for nature and the world that they live in. 

A recent U.N. report said a global climate crisis could occur by 2040 if emissions aren’t reduced soon, and we don’t quite know how much fashion is contributing to that (two estimates say between eight and 10 percent, but those figures have been called into question). 

What is clear is that fashion production wastes a lot of materials, pollutes water and air, and leaves many workers across the supply chain supremely vulnerable. And after all that, clothes often end up in a landfill.

Yet, there is one place in the fashion industry where reducing waste has always been designers’ mandates—and these Indigenous artists have ideas on what needs to be done to further tackle climate change, labor abuses, and waste as they relate to the fashion industry.

Vogue magazine's May 2020 issue asked 15 Indigenous designers to weigh in on sustainability in fashion. From the valuable lessons they were taught growing up to what they think the future of the industry might hold, read on to hear from those already innovating eco-minded initiatives.

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