We’ve prepared several interesting interviews for 2021. Our idea is to focus on current topics such as sustainable fashion, sustainable development, innovations in technology, and similar. Thus, on this occasion we have interviewed two ladies from Belgrade, Dunja Jovanovic and Marija Radakovic who are founders of the F.fm podcast that deals with sustainable fashion.
Hi Dunja and Marija. Please introduce yourselves to our readers:
Hi and thank you for an opportunity to introduce ourselves to readers of Still in Belgrade!
We’ve been working as fashion journalists for 10 years now – writing and editing for almost all licensed fashion magazines in Serbia (Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, Best Shop) and we’re still writing columns for many local magazines, newspapers, and webzines.
Three years ago we decided to make our own media outlet, and we’ve launched F.Fm podcast – a talk show about sustainable fashion. F.fm podcast is available for streaming via Anchor, Spotify, Google podcast… and is broadcasted every other Wednesday on the Serbian radio station radioaparat.com. Talk show observes the fashion industry from a political, social, economic, and environmental point of view. Our tagline is – Fashion, seriously 😉
Where can listeners get informed and how can they get in touch with your work?
Aside from broadcasting on radioaparat.com and streaming platforms, we are active on Social Media, where we communicate with our “f.fm commune” literally every day – we start conversations, share information and together we create a useful database with suggestions on how to make our fashion habits more sustainable. We have an official website ffmpodcast.com and a Patreon page as well. Also, we have launched Sustainable Fashion Day (Dan održive mode), an event that takes place in Belgrade, Serbia during the Belgrade Fashion Week.
Can you explain to us more about your project and what exactly the term sustainable fashion means and stands for?
We live in a world of fast fashion – it’s a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing. Garment production utilizes trend replication and low-quality materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to the public. These cheaply made, trendy pieces have resulted in an industry-wide movement towards overwhelming amounts of consumption. Unfortunately, this results in a harmful impact on consumers’ wallets, garment workers, and, ultimately, the environment.
Sustainable fashion production offers an alternative – mindful manufacturing, fair labor rights, natural materials, and lasting garments. It’s encouraging to know that there are like-minded brands, communities, and individuals fighting for the planet and the safety of garment workers.
Can you explain to us more about the fast fashion concept and what is the opposite of fast fashion, and how we can reach sustainability in the future?
Today, the fashion industry is at the top of the world’s polluters, and the problems it produces towards the environment and the society are numerous. The fashion system works according to the model of fast fashion, which implies fast and extensive production, aggressive marketing which stimulates constant shopping, and quick rejection and replacement of clothes with new ones. Polyester emits up to three times carbon dioxide than other fibers such as cotton. It can also take hundreds of years to degrade yet more than 60 percent of clothes are made from this material. Due to increased consumption in the form of fast fashion, there has been a 157 percent increase in the amount of polyester used in clothing since the year 2000 to date. Such numbers should encourage us to choose sustainable fashion brands that produce clothes from natural fibers instead.
The rate at which we are consuming and discarding clothes is contributing to mass waste in landfills all over the world. While 80 percent of the clothes discarded by consumers in major cities could be reused, these typically end up in landfills too. Also, there is a work ethic question – who is making all that clothing? Today, women comprise over 80 percent of textile workers globally many of whom work many hours overtime for little pay. Child labor also helps to fuel the fast fashion frenzy with workers under the age of 18 constituting a large percentage of those who labor in the global fashion industry. A lack of regulation exposes millions of workers to hazardous work conditions where workers are prone to death.
In order to reverse this tragic situation, and to operate more sustainably, the production of large fashion corporations must be limited by laws and taxes on overproduction. Stronger inspections have to be introduced to prevent violations of labor rights, strengthen labor unions within textile factories, ban the placement of new plastic garments, regulate factories in an ecological way… The list of things that need to change is large, and the rate of that happening is slow, to say the least.
In your opinion which brands should be avoided and why?
Most of all – street fast fashion brands – are the most responsible for the high position on the list of world polluters, which is occupied by the fashion industry. Continuous increase in the amount of production, violation of labor and human rights, usage of huge amounts of natural resources and pollution of the environment, worsening materials which consequently lead to the short life cycle of the clothes…
Do you have some knowledge of brands who are verified as good employers, that is, they do not neglect laborers’ rights and pay good salaries and fees?
A prerequisite for sustainable production is transparency – the brand must publicly discourse credible, comprehensive, and comparable data and information about fashion’s supply chains, business practices, and the impacts of these practices on workers, communities, and the environment. Until transparency becomes the standard in the fashion business, we can hardly say with certainty which brands are the positive examples.
If you want to buy from more sustainable ones, our advice is to choose from small, local producers because their work mainly relies on hand-made production or small teams, a couple of seamstresses who are decently paid.
To ensure that you’re buying from a sustainable brand we suggest asking questions before the purchase – who makes the clothes, where they are made, where the materials are from, whether they are certified, organic, eco-made… also there are some pretty awesome apps which are rating the brands based on their sustainable practices: Good On You app considers the most important social and environmental issues facing the fashion industry to assess a brand’s impact on people, the planet and animals, and the FashionCheker tells us which brands are paying their workers’ decent wages.
Which Serbian fashion brands and designers you recommend and why?
Although there are numerous obstacles on the way to the circular fashion system in Serbia, we can happily say that there are local brands that are changing the industry for the better. Ivko Woman – one of the leading Serbian brands, uses electricity from renewable sources, they try to recycle surplus materials…
Then, there are smaller fashion entrepreneurs such as Marija Ivanković Jurišić (Marija Hand Made) who revived old crafts and rebranded them as modern! She uses natural materials, recycles, and weaves, along with women from vulnerable groups that she employs. Designer Sonja Jocić has been creating Zero Waste collections for years back, and some small local brands such as Kota, Cozy2Wear, Thema Page, Hemp packs, or Daire use hemp, cotton on sustainable materials such as cactus leather and lyocell.