Steve AokiSteve Aoki

Steve Aoki.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images


  • Music and streetwear could have the ability to popularize sustainable fashion among the masses.
  • DJ Steve Aoki spoke about the power music has at the second Fashinnovation conference, held on June 5 and June 8, where industry experts gathered to discuss the future of sustainability in the fashion industry.
  • Designer Samata Pattinson, CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress, believes there could be a link between music, fashion, and the sustainable fashion movement.
  • She believes if popular fashion — such as streetwear — embraced sustainability, it could have a massive impact on both the fashion industry and consumers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Imagine, for a moment, a world where rappers wrote rap songs about eco-friendly fashion.

Those rappers, many of whom are currently the drivers of streetwear culture, could become the spokespeople for a greener environment. Streetwear brands might jump on the bandwagon, maybe making sweaters out of hemp and t-shirts out of organic cotton.

Then there’s the potential effect on fans. Fans might come to see eco-consciousness as something fun, something cool. It could become a new cycle: Sing about sustainability, thereby influencing sustainable fashion trends, thereby making “sustainable-heads” the new “sneakerheads.”

That might be an imaginary world right now, but in a recent interview with Business Insider, world-renowned DJ Steve Aoki said the power of music is so massive that it’s not out of the question.

“When you have certain artists wearing certain brands — it builds upon the community and helps build upon the culture of streetwear, of hip hop, of whatever else music that’s brewing,” Aoki said. “Music goes hand in hand with fashion … [and] music is one of the most important ways to shape culture, period.”

Samata Pattinson, the CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress, a company that places sustainable gowns on red carpets, furthered this idea. She told Business Insider she believes there could be a link between music, fashion, and the sustainable fashion movement — which means that an imaginary world where rappers sing about eco-friendly looks doesn’t have to be so far off.

‘Music goes hand in hand with fashion’

Music is one of the most powerful cultural influences in the world, and hip hop is the top music genre in America. That means that hip hop artists have an outsize influence on the world around them.

“Part of the identity of music is talking, is dialogue, is lyrics,” Aoki said. “That’s how culture is created a lot of the time, because of how certain artists will say the same thing and become unified with that idea.”

In other words, if famous artists began singing and talking more about sustainability and pushing more for eco-conscious options, it could make those ideals seem “cool” to their audiences.

And as Pattinson of Red Carpet Green Dress points out, there’s already been some movement in that direction.

“We can see that musicians and cultural icons are talking about sustainability,” Pattinson said. They’re not singing about it yet, but they are using their platform to communicate with the audience.”

coachella

Before the pandemic, Coachella had plans to team up with Global Inheritance to encourage festival goers to “keep the desert green, clean and beautiful.”

Invision/Amy Harris via Associated Press


She cited two specific examples: “Coachella Music Festival was thinking about going green … Billie Eilish talked at length about making her concerts more sustainable.”

As reported by Aoibhinn McBride for Graziame, Coachella was set to team up with the nonprofit Global Inheritance for the 2020 festival, before it was canceled because of the pandemic. The two organizations were also set to hold a competition for artists to design recycling bins, with the winners being awarded passes to the festival. According to McBride, Coachella also announced a partnership with the eco-friendly Everybody World brand, which was set to create official merchandise for the festival.

Meanwhile, Eilish told Jimmy Fallon in September that her world tour would be “as green as possible.” There would be no plastic straws, Eilish said: Fans would bring their own water bottles and recycling cans would be everywhere.

Pattinson noted that while these examples are a start, there is “so much more to be done” — and the key to making sustainability stick is proving that it has a positive impact on businesses’ bottom lines.

“For an archaic, really established, old organization, it’s not about being cool — it’s about the bottom line,” Pattinson continued. “But maybe it will start making business sense when they start losing customers, and they will say, ‘Okay, there’s a business case for sustainability.'”

FILE - This Nov. 2, 2019 file photo shows singer Billie Eilish at the 2019 LACMA Art and Film Gala in Los Angeles. Eilish is set to the sing the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film, becoming the youngest act to write and record a song for the iconic film franchise. Eilish, who turned 18 in December, recorded the song for the 25th Bond film, “No Time to Die,

Gen Z icon Billie Eilish told Jimmy Fallon last September that’s he was trying to make her upcoming world tour “as green as possible” and that she teamed up with a nonprofit organization to help her do so.

Associated Press


Music has the power to make sustainability desirable

But if there is a link between music, fashion, and sustainability, a synergy will need to be created in order to bring the topic of sustainability beyond one track on an album and one collection in a season.

Aoki pointed out that six months often pass between a fashion collection being shown and actually dropping. Meanwhile, artists can drop one single one week, and a completely different one the next. A repetitive cycle would have to exist between the two in order to begin the integration of sustainability into everyday conversation. 

The hope, Pattinson said, is that one day, a new generation of leaders will emerge who grew up in a culture that normalized eco-conscious behavior. Music could be the bridge to make sustainability desirable — and to start the conversation now among the young consumers who are poised to become the world’s next changemakers.

“We don’t need to wait five to 10 years for this young generation to get experience. We can mentor them, we can give them the experience now,” Pattinson said. “But we need to look beyond the fashion industry for this dialogue, and it could be through music.” 

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