Sustainability and Love in the time of Corona: The Impact on the Fashion Industry by Vari Garcia, Peru (Chicago Participant 2018)

Vari Garcia is a fashion designer for the Peru-based company Inkamoda, which works with Indigenous Peruvian weavers to create clothes from alpaca fur. In 2018, she traveled to Chicago to participate in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a fellowship program facilitated by WorldChicago and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The fashion industry has been one of the most vulnerable and affected industries during the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of retail stores closing. It has left buyers, fashion editors, designers, and models (among other figures with ties to the industry) concerned.

They have reached the point of postponing important industry events like fashion weeks.

It takes a crisis to form a tactic, and fashion is no exception. Some of the best designs were born from struggle.

This is a wake-up call for both us as consumers and for the industry as a whole. The threat that this pandemic holds over our heads is a call to action for the fashion industry to slow down, move away from mass production and change direction, before an even larger problem is at hand.

It’s a call to start being more creative and to focus on the sustainability of the garments. To make fashion a source of happiness and well-being for those who produce it and for those who consume it.

To create sustainable and ethical fashion, with a system of social responsibility where each part of the value chain can participate and grow.

To create eco-friendly pieces and made with sustainable materials that are developed using a sustainable process in an environment of harmony, love and respect.

At Inkamoda, we are remaining safe and strong, and we understand that we are all in this together. This crisis is a huge challenge for us, but we are trying to continue look for the positive outcome and working every day to find opportunities for our business and our workers.

Perhaps this is the opportunity for the change that we have been awaiting for so long. We must understand that what is happening right now is an opportunity for our hearts to know ourselves better, who we are, what we are capable of, the values we have.

As before in the industry, after every crisis, good opportunities and success will come. Inkamoda’s team thinks that this crisis will help make us more strong, creative and resilient.

We have been working on new projects and skills to make this sustainable fashion movement a success. We have been creating more handmade products with the products that we already have in stock, adding embroidery and other beautiful details to promote them online. We also create facemasks with our logo and alpaca logo.

Now we are working on our online store and preparing ourselves for this new digital era.

Brands will need to be savvy and sustainable. That leaves us and our own creativity.

Fashion and art are basic beauty, expressions of individuality. And in the process, we can hope that our Earth will be able to heal some more.

Now we get to appreciate what is important.

Coronavirus might be a great opportunity. Not only to get closer to our family members, our neighbors, our colleagues, but also to people we don’t know, to be more empathetic and to support others in need.

This is giving us the time to slow down, reflect and connect back again to what we really are. And it is showing us in all our weakness and strength, in all our fear and empathy, that we are connected—and we are one, making the World a better place.

[…] Peruvians are doing their best to support their community by trying to buy from local businesses and supporting people in need. We know that this will pass, and we will prosper after this crisis if we all work together as a team.

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