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Our evolving language in the age of climate change

In our collaboration with educational platform Climate Words, we define 3 words integral to our movement.

Images by Pamela EA.

"Defashion is a grassroots emergency response to the industry’s inability to degrow."

Since Fashion Act Now was founded, our community discussions have often come to focus around the need for new vocabulary in our rapidly changing world. The inertia in humanity's ability to deal with the heart of our issues - of growth, colonialism and oppression, requires us to scheme new interventions. New words are needed to create new provocations but also to describe our vision for a utopian future.

Climate Words is an online platform creating a data base of - you've guessed it - words relating to climate change. Climate Words invites "leading scientists, authors, activists, policy-makers and thinkers in the climate movement to pick the word that is most important to their work and define it in their own words." When they approached us about collaborating, we felt honoured for the opportunity to have words key to our movement alongside definitions written by the likes of Bill McKibben, Survival International and so many incredible youth activists from across the world that it's impossible to highlight one exemplary. It has published definitions to '1.5°C', '3.5%', 'ecocide' and 'regenerative cultures' to name a few.

It was obvious to us which words we wanted to contribute: sacrifice zones, defashion and post-fashion.

Sacrifice zones speaks of the problem. It is a word used by many in the field, but FAN member Sandra Niessen, has used it in new ways, applying it to fashion and describing how the process of sacrifice happens in this context and that sacrifice goes far beyond nature, to encompass people, cultures and even the temporal. Fashion's sacrifice zones have become the impetus for FAN's work. We recognise that Fashion (the globalised system) creates, normalises and depends on them.

Defashion is our intervention. It is a provocation, similar to the word degrowth. Sandra was the one who first uttered the word in one of FAN's weekly meetings to describe our need to focus on Fashion itself as the problem rather than tinkering around the edges. It was right that Sandra would be the one to write its definition.

Post-fashion speaks of our hope and optimism for a radical future that is fair and just. It is a word that inspires and helps us imagine the place we are heading to.

Please go to to read our definitions and so many more and support this valuable project led by talented youth climate advocates.

Special thanks to the team at Climate Words: Maxine Touchette; Valentin Abend; Sorah Park; and Pamela EA for visuals. And thank you to Sandra Niessen of FAN.

By Sara Arnold, FAN Coordinator


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