A talk on fashion and sustainability

07 Mar, 2022
Nancy Johnson-Hunt and Emily Miller-Sharma sitting on stage smailing at the camera.
Nancy Johnson-Hunt and Emily Miller-Sharma.

The fashion industry can’t talk about a future that’s free from fast fashion without first addressing the fact that many people simply can’t afford to spend their hard-earned money on designer clothing.

This was one of the standout points from a panel discussion at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on the future of the New Zealand fashion industry, says AUT doctoral candidate Nancy Johnson-Hunt, who chaired the panel.

The event on February 26 featured fashion designer Emily Miller-Sharma (Ruby), with input from Kate Sylvester, speaking on the importance of transparency, moving away from fast fashion and new design approaches for a sustainable future in NZ fashion.

“One of the main points that really stood out was how we can approach sustainability by addressing more critical conversations about accessibility, size and price inclusivity when it comes to fast fashion,” Johnson-Hunt says.

“While it is a sensitive topic, we can’t talk about moving away from fast fashion and the implications that has without addressing that not everyone is privileged enough to afford designer or more long-term pieces.”

The Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki was the impetus for the panel discussion, with key fashion designers speaking to the future of NZ fashion and the climate.

The Auckland University of Technology has a partnership with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and is a sponsor of the Mary Quant exhibition – which closes on March 13.

Before returning to the Popular Culture Research Centre to pursue her doctorate, Johnson-Hunt had worked as an advertising strategist and in the NZ fashion industry for designers such as Juliette Hogan and Wixii.

Johnson-Hunt's doctoral thesis explores the representations of contestants’ ethnic and racial identities on popular reality television dating shows.

“I want it to be known that whether we’re talking about race, gender, culture or class, Popular culture remains an important intersection where academic insights take place, and for that I’m grateful to be working with some of the best academic and diverse minds in the Popular Culture Research Centre.”

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