Embracing Global Connections Through Shared Learning

A Deep Dive into the Fashion Industry, Culture and Sustainability 

At suite123, we are passionate about embracing global connections through shared learning. Specifically, we pride ourselves on fostering a sense of community that transcends borders. Indeed, we have the pleasure of hosting brilliant international student interns. Their journey with us, and the work they have shared upon returning home has been inspiring. But also a testament to the power of global collaboration.

A Journey of learning and sustainability

Our 20+ years of experience in the fashion industry, plus our location in Milan, a city known for its rich fashion heritage, provide a fertile ground for in-depth exploration and understanding. So, students immerse themselves in the dynamics of niche fashion, luxury fashion, and fast fashion – a well-rounded fashion education. Specifically examining the fashion industry’s environmental and social impacts. Our projects and discussions around sustainability provide firsthand insights into the industry’s pressing issues and the solutions to address them.

From Italy to New Zealand: Sharing knowledge across continents & fostering global connections

Recently, we welcomed a Brazilian student whose primary focus during her time with us was on the fast-fashion industry and its implications for sustainability. Upon returning to Brazil, she expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow with us. She mentioned how her experience in Milan profoundly shaped her understanding of sustainability, providing her with a solid foundation to tackle her academic assignment on fast fashion in New Zealand (where she lives). Her work reflects the knowledge and inspiration she gained during her internship, and she eagerly shared her findings with us.

Fashion education: Building a global community

What struck us the most was the realization of how these experiences have fostered a sense of community among like-minded individuals across the globe. Whether located in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Japan, the USA, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, or New Zealand, we are all united by a common goal: to promote sustainability and make a positive impact on the world. This shared commitment transcends geographical boundaries and highlights the importance of global collaboration. In order to facilitate this global exchange of ideas, we have chosen English as our common language. It serves as a bridge, enabling us to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Moreover, it allows everyone to contribute and benefit from the collective knowledge and experiences.

Inspiring the future through the fashion industry

The journey of our Brazilian intern is a powerful reminder of the impact that shared learning and collaboration can have. Her desire to share her work with suite123 readers inspires us to continue fostering an environment where ideas can be exchanged freely. And where every voice is heard. Also, it underscores the importance of sustainability in all our endeavours, encouraging us to remain committed to creating a better, more ethical future.

Embracing global connections

As we reflect on this experience, we are filled with a sense of pride and hope. Our interns’ stories from Milan to the U.S.A, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand exemplify the power of embracing global connections. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of young people’s stories. Together, we can build a community that spans continents and works towards a common goal of sustainability and positive change.

Thank you all, and keep sharing your work with us! Let’s continue to inspire and learn from each other, no matter where we are.

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Five Essential Questions for Navigating the Fashion Industry with Integrity

A Journey Through False Promises, Fleeting Trends, and Mental Health

Today, we share five essential questions that serve as a compass for navigating the complexities of the fashion industry. 

As we confront the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion industry, we recognize the need for a guiding light amidst its complexities. Indeed, these questions not only serve as a compass but also as a shield against the misleading currents of mainstream trends and shallow promises.  

Fashion industry: five essential questions

  1. How can we cultivate trust in an industry built on smoke and mirrors?
  2. Can you thrive in the fashion industry without aligning with mainstream top brands?
  3. How to do it without being part of the (100% fake) sustainability facade? 
  4. Is there a community that values good design and rejects pointless consumption?
  5. Is there a way to maintain mental clarity and well-being while navigating the contemporary fashion landscape?

While we navigate the fashion industry’s labyrinth of misleading messages and surface-level promises, one truth emerges: trust is hard to come by. In fact, it’s a challenge to decipher genuine intentions from mere marketing tactics, and even harder to find like-minded individuals who see beyond the allure of a logo. More in detail, the pervasive influence and control exerted by widely accepted or popular trends, styles, or ideologies within the fashion industry totally overshadow alternative or less conventional approaches.

These five essential questions serve as beacons of introspection and guidance as we seek to forge a path in the fashion industry. Specifically, a journey that honours our values and preserves our mental health amidst the noise of false promises, fleeting trends and mainstream dominance.

However, in the end, it’s not just about us. It’s an extended conversation we would like to pass on to you because exchanging ideas is vital. Would you share your perspective?

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Why Fashion Fails to Embrace Body Shape Balance

Analysing the Link Between Fashion, Body Image and Inclusivity

While advertising featuring young women with ultra-curvy silhouettes is mushrooming, revealing a seeming shift towards inclusivity, it prompts us to question why fashion fails to embrace body shape balance. 

Delving into the historical narrative of the fashion industry since the 70s, ultra-slim female body shapes have been deeply entrenched. But lately, the discussion on inclusion and diversity prompted the fashion industry to widen the representation of different body shapes. Despite recent conversations surrounding inclusion and diversity, exemplified by plus-sized models, this transition remains fraught with contradictions.

Fashion and body shape: inclusivity or marketing?

For a while, plus-size women seemed to be everywhere. Despite the disappearance of plus-size models from fashion shows, many TV advertisements now prioritise promoting what they perceive as an inclusive body image.

Therefore, the question arises: are these representations truly promoting a healthy body image?
In the past, skinny silhouettes have been criticised for fostering unrealistic ideals, often leading to harmful behaviours like anorexia. But the opposite extreme is no less concerning. By featuring heavily overweight body shapes, especially to impressionable young girls, both the fashion and beauty industries may inadvertently convey the message that it’s acceptable to be significantly overweight. From a health perspective, this is far from the truth.

For the fashion industry, as well as the beauty industry, it boils down to following trends. So, they shift from one trend to another, expressing themselves through misleading marketing messages. In fact, their sole purpose is selling more clothes, shoes or beauty products, uncaring of the damage they can bring to women.

Body positivity and well-being

In conclusion, the fashion industry swings between extremes, from thin silhouettes to plus-size models, but still fails to embrace body shape balance. Indeed, it overlooks the importance of promoting a healthy body image, which is essential for overall well-being.

Furthermore, it is unsettling to observe that women are always the primary focus of marketing. And it’s concerning that we often don’t know how to respond. In the name of (fake) freedom, we become victims of the latest gimmick.

Of course, being unique involves accepting our imperfections; let’s embrace body positivity. But this acceptance should not come at the expense of our health. Balance is the key.

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Shiny Objects Syndrome: Unveiling Psychology Behind Consumer Behaviour

Exploring the Paradox: Why People Forget Reality and Support Exploitation in Fashion

Shiny Object Syndrome is the psychological idea where a person moves from one subject or object to the next, creating a constant distraction and a constant need for something new and exciting. This syndrome is present in the fashion industry with fashion trends, technology, news, social media, etc. 

Shiny Object Syndrome: encouraging overproduction from brands

In terms of the fashion industry, the control of Shiny Object Syndrome over society is what encourages fashion corporations to overproduce and contribute towards the abundance of textile waste and exploitation of labour. But our need for something shiny and new is costing the planet purchase by purchase. 

Unbreakable reputations despite concerning news
In April 2024, the Italian police exposed Giorgio Armani operations for using Chinese workers under an unauthorized subcontractor to make handbags and accessories. These workers were subject to unsafe working conditions and exploitation. Armani can also be traced to major water pollution scandals in China. Despite these concerning allegations, Armani maintains their reputation of being the pride of Italy and a loved brand worldwide. This contradiction is evident in other brands as well. 

The result: a vicious cycle
News and trends circulate so much that we forget the significance of events. Thus, when Armani releases their new collection we are too fascinated by the new fabrics, styles, and costs to remember how exactly these novelties were made. Thus, the Shiny Object Syndrome. Ultimately, we are showing brands that they can exploit human rights and the planet and get away with it. This must stop. 

Stopping Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny Object Syndrome can reflect in many aspects of our life from relationships to our purchasing habits. If we are always searching for the next exciting thing, we will never be satisfied with what we have. 

To avoid shiny object syndrome you can:

1. Set achievable short-term goals
Setting short-term goals can divert our focus towards positivity and improvement during the week and help us work towards a greater goal. Personal motivation is key.

2. Focus on experience rather than substance and find meaning in smaller things
Spend money on experiences like dinner with friends and plan these experiences for something to look forward to. Also, find meaning in smaller things by reviewing your day and asking yourself what made you smile and how you can make someone smile tomorrow. 
When you do buy, buy thoughtfully. Invest in items where you can read about the story of the designer and feel the craftsmanship. Items that are unique to you and not just a trend.

3. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude always. Gratitude can be as simple as being grateful for a sunny day or the flowers blooming. Once we see what we appreciate, we can appreciate even more and accept a beautiful life.

Gratitude turns what you have into abundance.
Gratitude is so much more than saying thank you.
Gratitude changes your perspective of your world.

What really matters

In conclusion, brands are constantly feeding off our bad habits, not only exploiting their workers but they’re also exploiting their customers. Shiny Object Syndrome increases the profit of brands while decreasing your overall well-being and satisfaction with life. It is better for your health and for our social and economic environments to disengage from Shiny Object Syndrome and focus on what really matters to you.

✍ Credit: Post written by Joelle Elliott, an American scholar pursuing studies in Fashion at Cattolica University in Milan; currently interning with suite123.

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Workers’ Rights in the Fashion Industry

A Reflection on the International Workers’ Day

As today we commemorate International Workers’ Day once again, it prompts us to pause and reflect on the state of workers’ rights within the fashion industry. International Workers’ Day is synonymous with Labour Day, annual holidays to celebrate the achievements of workers.

Some facts about workers’ rights in the fashion industry:

1. “Luxury brands show poor efforts to reduce forced labour.” (source KnowTheChain). Specifically, KnowTheChain evaluated fashion companies’ adherence to International Labour Organization standards in their supply chain, establishment of internal responsibilities to address forced labour risks, support for worker empowerment, and implementation of programs to address forced labour allegations. So, companies received scores ranging from zero to 100, with the average fashion company scoring 21. Luxury companies rank second lowest in average score among all sub-sectors, making them particularly flagrant offenders.
In short, among the luxury companies assessed:
LVMH: 6 out of 100
Prada: 9 out of 100
Kering: 23 out of 100
Only seven out of 20 disclosed the complete first tier of their suppliers, including names and addresses.

2. Alviero Martini: under investigation for starving wages.

3. Giorgio Armani Operations: put into receivership for labour exploitation.  Workers in Chinese-run workshops paid 2-3 euros/day, judges say. Probe finds migrant workers eating, and sleeping in factories.

4. Zara and H&M‘s cotton suppliers: involved in land grabbing, illegal deforestation and human rights violations (source Earthsight). Also, this revelation is particularly alarming as it implicates Better Cotton, a certified sustainable cotton label.

5. Low wages made Bangladesh the second largest clothing exporter after China, developing a huge industry for the country. There are about four million garment workers, mostly women, whose wages are the lowest in the world. In addition, the inflation and the devaluation of the taka against the US dollar (30% from the beginning of 2023) created unsustainable conditions for workers. Specifically, garment workers in Bangladesh make clothes for large groups such as H&MZaraGapLevi’s, NextAsos, and New Look.

6. After the Jaba Garmindo factory bankruptcy in Indonesia, 2,000 Indonesian garment workers have fought for the $5.5 million legally owed in severance pay since 2015. The workers made clothes for Uniqlo and German fashion brand s.Oliver, among others. (source

7. China is the biggest exporter of ready-made clothes, monopolising nearly 40% of the global garment industry. Driving China’s $187 billion garment trade are over 10 million garment workers. People who toil under oppressive and exploitative working conditions, mostly for high street brands. …While foreign brands’ business is booming, China bans the fundamental human right of workers to form and join independent trade unions. Driving a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions, brands expect low production prices and a compliant workforce and governments allow this along with factory owners out of fear of losing foreign business. Exploiting this arrangement is the Asian retail giant, UNIQLO. (source

Conclusion: what about consumers’ role?

While we commemorate International Workers’ Day, we’re compelled to confront a shameful truth about workers’ rights in the fashion industry. In fact, workers are often regarded as nothing more than commodities that brands can exploit for their own profit. 

The absence of moral fabric within the industry is evident, as is the disregard shown by consumers who choose to ignore this issue despite the wealth of available information.

But why do people ignore human rights and still support these brands through their consumption choices?

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