Alden Wicker - Journalist and Blogger
We’re currently experiencing many important movements that are making big waves. One such movement and wave that we are proud to be a part of is the sustainable fashion movement. There have also been individuals who have contributed to the education of and the global demand for more eco-friendly fashion practices. Sustainable fashion blogger and writer, Alden Wicker, shares her critical point of view of fashion manufacturing by writing about it for other publications and in her own blog, Ecocult. We caught up with Alden in her Brooklyn home to chat about her work and ideas that could take sustainable fashion further.
What do you do and why did you start your blog?
I'm a freelance journalist with a focus on sustainable fashion. I started my blog EcoCult in 2013 because I was very interested in researching more about eco-friendly fashion and sharing what I found with the world. I thought my role in changing the world for the better would be to elevate the sustainable lifestyle blog form from crunchy and judgemental to beautiful and aspirational. Maybe, if I could really curate the lifestyle and make it look good, I could convince more people to join in. At the beginning of 2013, nobody really cared about it, so most publications wouldn't take my pitches on the topic. I needed to own my own platform in order to write about these things. But that obviously has changed a lot since then! The Rana Plaza garment factory complex in Bangladesh collapsed a couple weeks after I launched my blog, and since then huge brands have been innovating in the space. My role has morphed into industry curmudgeonly fact checker, haha. Now I use the blog to support and send purchasing traffic to brands who are doing cool things, research and workshop ideas I'm thinking about, answer questions that readers have about how to shop sustainably, and push them to become engaged politically-minded citizens in the world of fashion.
What do you think will help the fashion industry the most in becoming more sustainable and ethically responsible?
We are right at the beginning of this movement, but I'm looking for what legislation we push to fix the myriad issues in the garment industry: things like requiring microfiber-catching filters on all washing machines, a beneficial tariff scheme that will make unsustainable fibers more expensive compared to eco-friendly fibers, a government-administered comprehensive certification, plus requiring all fashion companies to list all of their first and second-tier suppliers online for anyone to see, plus whether they burn unsold stock, etc. I also think the Bangladesh Fire & Safety Accord, in which large fashion companies legally bound themselves to improving the garment industry in Bangladesh, was incredibly effective. I would like to see more similar schemes in other countries and for other issues. Innovation is great and exciting, but that carrot needs to be paired with a government stick!
What do you want to see more of?
I want to see more natural and biodegradable fibers, more investment of innovation, more use of recycled fibers, more clothing takeback programs, and more research! Oh my God, do we need more scientists and researchers looking into the fashion industry. We are starved of peer-reviewed research! Believe me, I spend a lot of time tracking down "facts" only to find they went through a game of Telephone and came out completely inaccurate on the other side. Please, if you are a researcher and reading this, get your graduate students on some projects in the fashion space. I guarantee you, whatever discipline you're in, there's probably an element of the fashion industry to study -- it is so complex!
Follow Alden at Ecocult for more topics around sustainable fashion.