Keep it stylish, keep it green with Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week
By Hannah E. Jones
A stretch of the Eastside BeltLine trail was transformed from a walking trail into a runway as night fell on Wednesday, Oct. 19. This wasn’t a typical fashion show, but one with second hand and sustainably-sourced outfits.
This week, the Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week (ATLSFW) is back with a series of events aimed at bridging the gap between consumers and sustainable fashion brands. Through the four days of fashion events, the organizers hope to educate consumers about textile waste, raise awareness around sustainable clothes and create more opportunities to purchase eco-friendly products.
In 2018, according to the EPA, clothes and shoes accounted for 4.4 percent of all discarded materials. To help address this waste in fashion, Tanjuria Willis, owner of eKlozet Designer Consignment, founded ATLSFW in 2021 because she wanted to encourage folks to go the eco-friendly route when adding to their wardrobe.
“I wanted to be able to do something because we all feel like we can’t do anything,” Willis said. “We talk sustainability from a 30,000-foot level, and I wanted to bring it down to the direct view as it directly affects each and every one of us.”
The programming kicked off on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and will run until Saturday, Oct. 22. The lineup includes runway shows featuring sustainable materials, expert panels, networking events and shopping opportunities.
The event series started off strong on Wednesday with a runway show hosted by Amazon at Ponce City Market. The fashion show featured female models donning looks crafted by a local student and eKlozet, as well as a tribute to Andre Leon Talley, former Vogue Magazine editor-at-large who passed away this year.
Local sustainability leaders were also in attendance, including the EPA’s Kim Charick and Atlanta’s Chief Sustainability Officer Chandra Farley. They both emphasized the importance of being mindful consumers and reducing waste.
Charick shared that the EPA is turning its focus to textiles next year, as the material is a major contributor to our landfills.
“In a linear fashion economy, normal [includes] production, consumption and disposal,” Charick said. “In recent years, I’ve seen growing interest from the fashion industry to move towards a circular economy that is regenerative by design. In a circular fashion economy, waste is designed out of the process from the beginning, using nature as a teacher.”
She continued: “[Willis] is a pioneer. She understands that we need to change our purchasing practices, broaden our understanding of where the materials come from and how they impact our health and our earth.”
The remaining two days of ATLSFW include panel discussions about sustainability culture and its future, workshops for reusing garments and, of course, fashion shows.
Willis encourages folks to buy second hand, borrow clothes from friends and purchase with intention, rather than getting caught up in the modern-day culture of excessive consumerism.
“I want you to incorporate one thing at a time into your wardrobe, into your life to make systematic changes. You don’t have to change your entire lifestyle. It’s just one thing, and if you continuously do one thing, before you know it, you’ll be doing all of them.”
For more about the Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week, click here.