Amfi is the 2017 host of IFFTI, the annual conference of leading fashion schools worldwide. The theme of this year is ‘Breaking the Rules’ and AMFI students are reporting on events. Second year International Branding student Blanca Heise reports on the talk of Mihela Hladin, Environmental & Social Initiatives Manager Europa of Patagonia.
Mihela Hladin Wolfe starts her talk with an old picture of herself, picking berries with her grandma. She immediately makes her argument clear. When the picture was taken, Mihela and her grandma were alone on that green mountain picking genuine, untouched berries. Now, this mountain is polluted and the berries are modified. “Unfortunately, people are ignorant of their ecological footprint: out of side, out of mind.” This is where Patagonia is making a change.
Patagonia started as a climbing gear brand and evolved over the years to specializations in alpinism-, snow-, fishing- and surfing wear. The founders experienced the wilderness and this made them very determined to protect it. They soon understood the challenges that come with running a business and highlighting the problems in the supply chain. The brand introduced, among others, organic cotton, repair stations and 35 per cent fair trait production. This with only two collections a year, donating 1 per cent of the revenue to environmentalists, to counteract fast fashion.
Patagonia is honest and not scared to stand up, which flatters them. They admit as a company, you can not have a positive footprint, unfortunately that is not possible today. But they do anything to protect planet earth, they are activists. As Mihela said: “It is not the financial part that will stop initiatives. You need to work with people that keep discussing and pushing you forward and you need to nurture those that are willing to go that extra mile to find the solution. There are no boundaries, if you believe in yourself.” The honesty and passion Patagonia radiates, is a true inspiration for todays society.
Words and slide show images taken by Blanca Heise. Photo Mihela during talk by Joris van Egmond.