15 Aug 2016 Story Sustainable Development Goals

Young designer uses fashion to raise awareness of SCP issues in her industry

It was a minor twist of fate that led Lois McGuire, 29, to delve into sustainable fashion.

The fashion designer from Grenada, the Caribbean, who normally designs under her newly-launched label Lyb’rtee Rose, had meant to participate in an expo of small businesses whose aims included inspiring entrepreneurship among young people. One of the organisers was an agricultural body that was created in 2011 to build up the agricultural sector and reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables.

She ran out of time to create a clothing line, and started looking for alternative ideas in line with the spirit of the expo, which, in her words, “allowed for networking in an atmosphere of innovation and creativity”.

Lois came across an article into sustainable fashion that fascinated her so much she began researching it intensively, while coming up with a feasible design for the three days she had to create it.

“On the night before the event, after spending hours braiding and twisting, I completed this dress from wild pine straw. It certainly was a conversational piece!” she muses.

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Lois took the opportunity to discuss the concept of sustainable fashion with the many people who wanted to talk to her about the dress.

“As a people, we are focused on trends and keeping up with the latest designs, but don’t think of the impact our discarded clothes have on the environment in which we live,” she notes.

She offered simple solutions, including redesigning “old” clothes, buying quality clothes that could be worn many times rather than those that had to be discarded after only a few uses, and donating clothes.

“I had very lengthy conversations about “fast fashion”, which is predominant in Grenada— clothes that are imported and sold at cheap prices, which were made poorly, possibly in unsuitable conditions where workers were paid very little,” she says.

She has now turned her research towards understanding what is being done in the Caribbean to promote sustainable fashion, and has sketched a few more designs that she intends to create sustainably.

“I think using fashion to bring awareness to sustainable consumption and production is an exciting method of introducing the concept of sustainability to the youth,” she says, adding, “one of the messages I hope people take away is that we have to make the topic of sustainability an interesting one, while maintaining its relevance.”

“If we as young people are able to see the correlation of our fashion and fashion choices with the environment and also see the link between topics such as fair trade, this can definitely create change for future.”