Livia Firth On A World Without Leather Or Wool: "It's Not Realistic."
If you're not familiar with Livia Firth, you're going to want to do your research. She’s the badass co-founder of Eco Age Ltd, a brand consultancy that enables businesses to achieve growth by adding value through sustainability. She's also married to actor Colin Firth (hence her last name) and is also a film producer, and overall leader and speaker in the sustainable fashion industry.
She’s been helping brands find green-friendly ways to continue their business, and she's clearly on a mission.
Her latest venture? A trip to Tasmania to learn about wool production and its impact on the environment.
As part of her goal on improving the sustainability credentials of luxury fashion labels, she recently flew to Tasmania to meet some of Australia's top merino wool growers in order to learn about the production of wool.
According to Firth, “You can never replace the real experience of meeting people and seeing things with your own eyes.”
And in lieu of this, she also flew to Bangladesh to meet the garment factory workers and to Brazil to meet the leather farmers threatening the Amazon leather.
Along with her environmental adventure was Woolmark, an Australian company that promotes the use of merino wool across the globe. And this was all documented in a short video entitled Fashionscapes: Forever Tasmania.
During her Tasmanian visit, Livia explains, "You have images of huge herds of sheep overgrazing and intensively reared and then we ended up in this landscape.” She further adds, “It’s not realistic to think we are going to be in the world without leather or wool or a world without cotton so what is the blueprint for doing it better and beautifully.”
Although international wool buyers have pushed farmers to phase the controversial practice of mulesing, there are still those who continue to do it. "It's not a nice practice," says Firth, "But if it is done properly, it saves the sheep's life and death from hell."
Despite the controversy, the wool industry is pushing back. Woolmark explains that wool is natural, renewable and biodegradable which is why the fashion industry need not more than what they can consume from the supply chain. And according to Firth, wool is basically better compared to its synthetic counterparts. "If you throw away a wool sweater, it composes in the ground very quickly, and it doesn’t waste microfibres when you wash it.”
Her visit to Bangladesh was also a commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where 1134 workers were killed from garment factories. And even through different non-profit efforts, so little has changed for the fast fashion industry.
Firth says, "Today all the big guys have just moved to Ethiopia to produce in a country where there is not even minimum wage so the story repeats itself in terms of the businesses and how they produce.” Livia Firth is not disheartened, though.
She believes that once people are educated about where their clothing comes from, their purchasing behavior will eventually change. "Once you start to understand that there are women who produce the clothes if I buy something and I don’t care for it, I’m actually not respecting that woman.”