Lewis Perkins, President of Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, is optimistic about the future of fashion. A leading sustainability strategist for the past decade, Perkins is committed to helping grow and scale the fashion industry’s commitment to safe materials that can be perpetually cycled — a commitment he brings as a mentor to the 10 designers in the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative.
CFDA caught up with Perkins and asked him for his thoughts, advice, and aspirations for creating a positive impact in fashion.
Is sustainability a one-size-fits-all set of strategies within fashion design and business?
There may not be a one-size-fits-all for the industry, or the various audiences from C-suite, to designer to supplier, however, there is one answer for the impact on our planet. Each of us has a stake in not simply reducing our negative impact, but creating and building solutions to increase our positive impact.
We should all look at each of our sustainability initiatives and ask ourselves, how does this create cleaner water, more renewable energy, decrease landfills and increase the use of regenerative materials — all which having positive impact on the lives of the workers who are creating our goods. Slowing down the negative is not good enough. It’s about speeding up the positive.
What challenges do you see for designers in the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative, and equally, what about areas of opportunity?
Designers are busy and we have to make this simple, but at the same time hold us all to true innovation and positive impact, not merely sticking our toe in the eco-fashion waters. It’s time for big change. While some of our designers are small in volume, we are all big in influence. This means our collective voice also moves industry suppliers into new innovations.
What is your wish for the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative journey?
I wish that each designer finds his or her purpose as a champion towards true value, impact, and measurable changes.
What words come to mind to describe the process of change?
Collaborative, perseverance, design, vision, barriers, breaking barriers, tears, laughter, wisdom, pride, intelligence, peace.
Who or what is most valuable in leading us to change?
*This story first appeared on CFDA