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Crisis Takeways - an Open Letter from the Embassy HQ on Covid 19 and what we can learn from it - Ethical Fashion

03 – 05 – 20

Crisis Takeaways:
An Open Letter from the Embassy HQ

So here we are, not really sure how to proceed. While a lot of our peers have been quick with very opinionated posts, all seemingly unwavering in their bold stand in this crisis, we’ve been rather quiet these last weeks. We haven’t been posting much on our social channels, mainly because we didn’t know what to say. We’ve been busy wondering.

Wondering how to address what’s happening. Wondering if it’s even our place to address what’s happening. And especially wondering why our opinion would matter much. We’re not virologists. We’re not decision makers in this time of crisis. And the very last thing we want is playing a role in what seems to be just another marketing opportunity to a lot of orgs out there. Branded masks anyone? Sure, most of these initiatives probably mean well (though some are blatantly see-through), but most of them feel weirdly misplaced.

Our raison d’etre is to make good products for people who want them. If now’s not the time to talk about our products because people have other needs, that’s fine. It didn’t feel right to engage. So we didn’t.

What’s more, we didn’t feel the need to tell the world how we are coping with the situation. Sure, we, too, have to consider the complicated and sometimes threatening circumstances some of our retailers are in. We, too, had to thoroughly discuss if we would be able to shoulder the preorder we made with our producers and we, too, decided that it is obviously the right choice to stick to our promises and not risk that garment workers might be losing their jobs because of our fear of markets crashing. We did our part to get our retailers rallied behind us in this decision and we’re happy to say that we didn’t reduce our order in the slightest.

But yeah, of course we were worried and of course it’s been tough. More than our own monetary situation, however, we‘ve been worrying about the way we, as a society, collectively choose to set our priorities.

We’re puzzled, really, to make sense of some of the things that are happening around us and some of the decisions that are being made. What is especially unsettling is what we think is a loss of moral balance, or rather, the way the current situation makes that moral imbalance painfully visible.

“A moral imbalance, made painfully visible.”

This should be obvious, but just to be clear: Of course we don’t want anyone to underestimate the dangers of a virus we still know very little about. Of course we need security measures and of course we’re happy to see a group effort of epic proportions happen, trying to minimize harm.

But… why now? How come that even though we’ve had very pressing problems before Covid 19, we were seemingly unable doing even close to what we’re pulling off now? Is that just because it’s hitting closer to home? Why are we able to afford everything we’re doing now, but seem to not have the means to dissolve the refugee camps on the EU borders? How come we look at the deaths caused by a virus so differently than at the deaths happening everyday in the Mediterranean Sea? How do we have all the resources we need to fight something we have still very little data on (Covid 19), while there’s a huge threat we’ve known about for decades, backed with so much evidence it’s overwhelming (climate change), yet we seem unable to take the most basic steps to stop it from happening?

“Are we really pointing a finger at Chinese wet markets?

How do we feel about media outlets pushing out virus story after virus story, while other important topics have to take the back seat? Are we happy with the conversations that are broadcasted in this crisis, about the blatant lack of room for diverging opinions? How is it that very basic civil rights are being limited, yet it seems we all hesitate to even discuss this? You know, maybe ask a question or two? And how come, even though we very well know that this virus, just like Swine Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Ebola, Bird Flu and, most likely, HIV, is a zoonotic disease and stems from our messed up ways of „interacting“ with other species, this simple fact is not addressed nearly as much as it should be? Are we really pointing a finger at Chinese wet markets when we all know perfectly well about the horrific conditions in Western animal agriculture? How come it still seems perfectly normal to hit the meat aisle in the supermarket, while we’re in the midst of a pandemic that has its origin in eating animals? And, last but not least, wouldn’t it be smart to make good use of this situation to reflect, look back and potentially adjust our behavior?

We can’t help but wonder – but we also think there’s a silver lining here. Urban culture and lifestyle website Highsnobiety (normally sporting headlines like „The 11 best sneakers out this weekend & where to buy them“ or „Louis Vuitton’s ‚Millionaire‘ sunglasses just arrived in new summer colorways“) recently published the findings of a poll, showing that „an emergent value system is being born“ among their audience while in self isolation. „During this time of re-examination,“ Highsnobiety shares, „consumers re-assessed their priorities. Those still fortunate enough to have jobs wanted to continue participating in the economy fueled by […] a newfound sense of social responsibility.“ According to their findings, „keen crisis consumers are supporting businesses who don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.“

We’ve now seen what’s possible if we commit.”

Maybe, just maybe, we’re on the brink of a new era in fashion – our area of expertise – where the more shallow aspects of consumerism take a back seat and we will collectively focus on acquiring the things we really need, for the price they’re really worth, made in a way that’s not only good for the consumer and the brand, but also for every single living being in the production chain, no matter the gender, no matter where in the world they were born and no matter their species. When values like quality, durability and timeless design are championed, when we can develop a feeling of responsibility for the items we produce and buy, we’re onto something big.

Obviously, this line of thinking doesn’t stop at fashion. Greta Thunberg tweeted: „Everybody talks about going back to normal. But normal was a crisis!“

Maybe now, for the first time in our collective lifespans, we’ve all seen and learned what is possible if we just commit. What has been possible in the fight against a still rather mysterious virus surely now will be possible in the fight against something so thoroughly documented as climate change? And while we’re at it, why not put an end to the devastating impacts that animal agriculture or the fast fashion industry have been causing? We all know there’s a whole list of very pressing problems the world we live in today is facing.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Sending love from
The Embassy