Amy Powney on How To #FashionOurFuture

During London Fashion Week Mother of Pearl’s creative director Amy Powney launched #FASHIONOURFUTURE a community of changemakers pledging to shake up the industry and the way we consume fashion. 

How was the idea behind #FashionOurFuture born?

The idea was inspired by my work over the past four years, on converting Mother of Pearl into a fashion brand that puts planet and people in equal measures of profit. When we launched the communication around sustainability, I realised it is an area that hasn’t been discussed at the scale that is needed and greenwashing makes it all the more confusing to people. So, I began dreaming up #FASHIONOURFUTURE, a platform to discuss all things sustainable AND fashionable, providing tips, guidance and most importantly creating a positive community. 

Why did you decide to launch the campaign during A/W LFW 2020?

At this current moment, I think that social media is the most culturally relevant medium of communication and sustainability is one of the most important topics we need to be discussing. As a designer I have decided not to present my collections at London Fashion Week, but instead to use the platform to ignite interest, discussion and action towards making our industry more sustainable. 

Tell us about the nine pledges.

The concept behind the pledges is to have something that can speak to everyone and work in anyone’s lifestyle and budget. There is everything from renting, (RENT GIRL), buying vintage (OLD AGE PURCHASER) or trying to buy sustainably-sourced viscose (TREEHUGGER). There are so many ways to shop more sustainably, so we tried to break it down into digestible chunks. We started with nine pledges as a guide to help inspire people, but the beauty of the campaign is that you can make up any pledge you like and make it personal to you. We plan to introduce more pledges as the campaign grows and also ask our community to submit ideas too. 

Who has taken part in the campaign so far? 

I’ve had incredible support from fashion editors, stylists, celebrities, influencers, other fashion brands and even big organisations such as John Lewis, British Vogue, Farfetch and The British Fashion Council. The great thing about the campaign is anyone can get involved. Jameela Jamil is taking on the feminist pledge and Farfetch is getting behind the OAP (Old Age Purchaser) pledge as it has a ‘Second Life’ initiative – I really believe there’s something for everyone.

When I show people the campaign, it’s great to see someone laugh when they see the pledge to only buy vintage until Celine Dion’s next birthday – I think humour is the way forward! Sustainability doesn’t need to be stale. 

How do you hope the movement will grow?

By making a pledge and nominating a friend to do the same. We have been incredibly lucky to have the support of global celebrities, press and influencers, but want we really want is everyone to make a pledge (you don’t need a big following to make a difference!). The campaign motto is ‘no one can do everything, but everyone can do something’, which I truly believe is the key to making real impactful change.  

I really want to build a supportive global digital community where people can encourage each other to make better fashion choices, all whilst having a bit of fun. Fashion and sustainability can often feel off-limits or intimidating, even for myself sometimes; my aim is inclusivity and collaboration, which is what we need for the scale of change needed.

Will you be measuring the tangible impact of the campaign beyond the digital sphere?

There are so many great platforms on social media already talking about sustainability in fashion, and lots of platforms talking all things fashion, but they have felt like two separate conversations to me and I felt there was really a gap that needs filling to unite the two in a way that speaks to those passionate about both areas. I want those that care about sustainability to follow, but those that are passionate about fashion to also feel inspired to make changes.

Social media isn’t always viewed in a positive light – how do you intend to harness its power for good with this campaign?

Social media is accessible to all and has the potential of a great outreach, which is my main aim. I was initially inspired by the way Jameela Jamil used Instagram to build an incredible community through @i_weigh, and how she managed to change legislation through the power of her platform. I hope to do the same with #FASHIONOURFUTURE; creating a platform that inspires, educates and sparks conversations, and hopefully sends a strong message to government and businesses that need to make real change. 

Why do you think collective responsibility is the key to taking the sustainable fashion movement forward?

I want to bring people into the conversation and make them feel part of a systemic change; this has kept me going in times when I’ve asked myself why I started this campaign in addition to running a company and having my first child!

Many platforms shame fashion for sustainability which I think, in turn, puts people off altogether. The way I see it is that if we all (as consumers) do a little to change, then the collective effort makes a much bigger positive impact. I also think businesses have a responsibility and duty to make long term, tangible changes (not just for marketing purposes).  

We have to start with outlining the issue and making it common knowledge before we see change. We can’t fix a problem if people don’t know what they are doing is even a problem. I have tried pushing government with legislation which was dismissed very quickly, so until we can change global systems, which is ultimately my aim, we all need to work together as the people to make the changes or noise needed. After all, the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters and seeing how Greta Thunberghas made global waves shows that anything is possible, so why not try?

Amy Powney shares her Life As I Know It.

Amy joins Venetia Falconer, Orsola de Castro and Professor Rebecca Earley at Melissa Hemsley’s Sustainability Sessions.

Jemma Finch shares her advice for using social media for social good.