Regenerative Fashion! By this point in time, you have probably already heard of sustainable fashion, it is the big word around town. Now, we dare you to think bigger. Look one step further. Think Regenerative Fashion. Regenerative Fashion refers to apparel made from fabrics that support circularity either through the used economy by upcycling materials otherwise discarded or through soil-to-soil cycle of regenerative agriculture. Lisa Kibutu, the brainchild of the Regenerative Fashion Collective Exchange [ReFaCE] unpacks this best, “It is from crop to closet to compost – the trifecta.”
The Regenerative Fashion Collective Exchange [ReFaCE] is a platform that aims to put into action the idea of transforming the fashion cycle into a circulatory one. From crop to textile manufacturing and the entire value chain and relevant stakeholders. Dealing with it from the root, noting that fashion is the second highest pollutant in the world. They monitor the DNA of the textiles, from testing soils hence not only being data driven, but adding a scientific approach. Think of ReFaCE as agritech in the fashion industry.
ReFaCE aims to create the first regenerative textile industry in Africa and an African Certification Standard for regenerative products. Other beneficial outcomes are food and job security that disproportionately affects women and youth, especially at the Kenyan Coast. In Kenya, some fashion designers are already at the forefront of reanalysing the way the fashion cycle functions such as Mariam Couture [who came up with her own fabric], Namnyak, Katush, Deepa Dosaja, Lilabare and Kiko Romeo
Lisa best puts it when quoting her guru Marc Barasch, “regeneration talks about this circular economy, regeneration is spiral, so it’s from crop to closet to compost to crop to closet. We want it to spiral. We want it to regenerate. It’s like energy that keeps feeding itself. When we talk about sustainable fashion, like let’s say if sustainability means lowering emissions to prevent further climate change, regeneration means drawing down carbon to actually reverse climate change.”
She adds, “fashion is out of fashion. Fashion needs a re-look. Fashion needs to look itself in the mirror, self-reflect and redefine itself; review itself and come up with a new version. The new name of fashion is ReFaCE, right and that’s it. And we’re leading from the front, Africa. Today, Africa contributes only 4% of the entire global emissions so we are already leading from the front, and nobody can argue with that. Africa, right now is the garden of Eden.”
The Regenerative Fashion Collective Exchange [ReFaCE] is set up in the coastal county of Kilifi, and for good reason. Kilifi was a net exporter of silk and cotton from as early as 700 AD until the Portuguese burnt down the factories in 1,500 AD. ReFaCE hopes to re-establish the textile ecosystem that spanned the coastal town for over 200 years.
The Regenerative Fashion Collective Exchange Forum
On June 16th 2023, The Regenerative Fashion Collective Exchange Forum shall be held in Kilifi to put together a policy that they can ensure takes care of everyone from the small farmers, to the textile buyers and all those in between the regenerative fashion value chain.
“The ReFaCE forum is aimed at putting together a working paper. A framework for policy and for the regenerative textile industry for Africa. We intend to come out of the full-day workshop with a working document. The State Department of Industry and Trade in Kilifi County and all the county representatives will be present, as will small scale farmers, spinners, designers and textile manufacturers are all sitting at the same table for the first time ever on the planet, to come up with this document. We shall then have a second forum in November for exploration, which means that we look at comparing data and seeing what works, what needs to be kept and what needs to be changed. The framework that we’ve built will have been tested for a while and we shall be able to see the missing parts,” said Lisa Kibutu.
ReFaCE is here to put the conversation around Regenerative Fashion at the top of everyone’s mind because where there is awareness, there is consciousness.