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INTERVIEW WITH JACKET REQUIRED SUSTAINABLE AMBASSADOR PHIL WILDBORE

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Interview with Jacket Required Sustainable Ambassador Phil Wildbore

Jacket Required, the UK’s only contemporary menswear and streetwear trade show taking place at the Old Truman Brewery on the 22nd – 23rd January 2020, has appointed Phil Wildbore as its new Sustainable Ambassador to spearhead the growth of the show’s sustainable offer.

With decades of experience in the fashion industry, Phil Wildbore is one of the original pioneers of sustainability and ethical fashion. Phil’s first conscious brand, Road, launched in the 1980s. Whilst working with a family-run factory in Leicester he became aware of the poor working conditions that existed in a major part of the fashion industry. This epiphany was a catalyst for change; Road became a fully conscious brand. To raise awareness for this initiative and with the aim of getting his customers to start thinking more about their wardrobes, Phil ensured Road branding and labelling had the message 'CONSCIENCE - everyone involved in this garment has been paid a decent living wage'. Monkee Genes followed, as founder and former designer it was a label which would encompass all his beliefs, and which became the first jeans brand to be awarded the Soil Association certification. Here we grab Phil for a quick chat about sustainability in the menswear industry.

What is the current state of the sustainable clothing industry in menswear? 

“Unfortunately, sustainable brands are still a very small part of the industry. There are a number of brands nodding towards organic materials, however my belief is their reasoning is they feel it’s front page, not necessarily because they actually believe that way. There is far too much Greenwashing going on instead of a proper shift towards ethical fashion which is desperately needed.” 

How important is it that brands shift to sustainable manufacturing methods in the near future? 

“As above, we have a responsibility to cease manufacturing just stuff that is generic. To exist, the industry needs to design well, become 100% ethical and produce with a sustainable conscience.”

How would you suggest motivating consumers to buy sustainable? 

“In the new year I will be launching ‘This thing called time’. This is an awareness campaign which will run in schools and universities underlining the horrendous consequences of fast fashion. More to be revealed at Jacket Required in 2020.” 

What problems are there in the sustainable fashion industry that need to be overcome? 

“Basically the entire supply chain and retail industry needs a reality check. You need to pay a certain level not to support slave labour, you need to pay the next level to achieve buying quality. It comes back to a lack of education and a change of mindset.”

What are your comments on accusations of greenwashing from brands trying to cash in? 

“It is normal human behaviour, the public need to have certifications to look for. The highest acclaim is Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS. The word organic unfortunately does not mean quality, it does not mean ethically made, and it definitely does not mean sustainable.”  

To what extent are fast fashion labels to blame for the environmental impact from the fashion industry? 

“This is a huge problem. The growth in fast fashion is totally driven by the throwaway society it has created. It is not sustainable. Unfortunately, while the whole world is becoming more aware of the continual harm the human race is causing to our planet, the online cheap fashion industry is growing at an unfathomable rate. We have one lot of youth campaigning, led by fantastic people like Greta Thunberg, while others are buying more cheap clothes from sites with impossibly low prices which, from my view, can only end in tears. One such online site has a very apt name! We need to start bringing shopping back to the streets.”

Monkee Genes
Monkee Genes

Taking place in East London’s Old Truman Brewery on the 22nd – 23rd January, Jacket Required is a premium show offering buyers an inspiring, carefully edited international line-up of contemporary menswear, streetwear, breakthrough talent, footwear, accessories and lifestyle products. Thousands of buyers visit the show every season from independent retailers, department stores, online retailers and multiple retailers. As the UK’s only event of its kind specialising in contemporary menswear and streetwear, this high-quality, edited platform is ideal for showcasing new products and collections.

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