Fashion Sustainability Is No Longer an Option—It’s a Necessity
Céline Semaan knows the solution lies at the intersection of industries and cultures.
Céline Semaan’s latest venture, One x One, seeks to remedy that by merging fashion and science to combat the industry’s harmful effect on the planet. With the help of Swarovski and Semaan’s own Slow Factory, alongside the support of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the One x One incubator is a first for fashion, pairing innovative minds from across industry lines to merge their complementary expertise and create garments that fulfill requirements in circularity, human-centered design, and regenerative technologies. The participants include designers Phillip Lim, Public School New York’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, and Mara Hoffman, along with scientists Charlotte McCurdy, Theanne Schiros, and Custom Collaborative founder Ngozi Okaro.
“I speak four languages, and I’ve lived in between east and west, so for me—translating for my parents, code switching—understanding different worlds and perspectives is everything.”
“It’s not just the sequins. it’s the ecosystem around them.”
“It’s not an approach that’s like, OK, take this pill and you’ll feel better.”
Because of this constant evolution, there’s no technical arrival, either. We don’t even have a sustainability metric system yet—Semaan is working on that, too. She devoted part of her research as a director’s fellow at MIT to developing a new KPI that would act as a sort of certification model. The incremental model will then adapt as new developments arise. “It’s not a grade that you would get,” she says, pinpointing our need society has instilled in us for black-and-white solutions, yes or no, good or bad. “It wouldn’t be like A+. It’s not there to say, ‘OK, I got a good grade, I’m done. I graduated.’ It’s very complex because you’re dealing with a complex system.”
Like the problems, these solutions lie at the intersection of industries, of cultures, of ideas. Tunnel vision, obstinance, a refusal to collaborate—these are all obstacles we are tripping ourselves with. In a situation of life and death, it seems the pre-school-era adage of working together is the foundation of every answer.
Photos: Shana Trajanoska
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