Laura Paddison is a journalist and edits Guardian Sustainable Business, a section which covers the environmental, economic and social impacts of business. She has written about and commissioned on a wide range of topics including the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, supply chain accountability and consumer behaviour.
There is an inherent joy to fashion. People use clothes to project to the world who they are or who they want to be. Fashion is a key part of culture. And while fashion journalism is often criticised for being frivolous or unimportant, this ignores the sheer influence of the industry on our economy and society. However, the negative social and environmental impacts of the industry are huge. Dire labour conditions, child workers, waste on an enormous scale, emissions, water overuse and pollution – to name a few. With its twisting, complex supply chains, the sector has serious transparency and traceability problems. Fashion journalists have a responsibility to explore these broader implications. Helping people connect what they wear, with how its made and who makes it. There are sections of the media providing a vital critique of the industry, but we need more. The greater the exposure of the issues and the more brands are called out when they fail to act responsibly, the more consumer engagement will grow along with pressure on all actors, from corporate to government, to inject sustainability into the industry.