André Carvalhal is a Brazilian author, digital influencer and expert in sustainable design helping to transition the fashion industry into more sustainable and life-affirming business models.
Fifteen years working in the fashion industry led the Rio De Janeiro-based designer to question the systemic implications of consumerism
, and the impact of mass consumption and advertising on the psyche. Since 2015, he has worked solely with sustainable brands, dedicating himself to researching and writing about the intersection between inner work, sustainability and future trends.
André is a speaker, consultant and host of Se essa roupa fosse minha
(‘If those clothes were mine'), a Brazilian TV show about environmentally conscious fashion. In 2014, he visited Amazonia and India to research the impact of the fashion industry on traditional communities. From there, he travelled to Silicon Valley to explore alternative economic models and financial systems. Using the insights gathered on these trips he published two books, Fashion Imitates Life
and Fashion With Purpose
In the present we are having the opportunity to experience changes that we thought would happen in the future.
As a digital influencer (@carvalhando
) he is spreading awareness of the systemic crisis, using Instagram Live to interview different people about consumerism, ecology
, collaboration, sustainability
, gender, race, economy
, sex, internet behaviour and what it means to be human today.
Despite the Covid crisis, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has continued. In June 2020 the Amazon suffered from 18.5% more fires
compared to the same period last year.
In this conversation, recorded in late April, André speaks with Maria Clara Parente
about consumption, the fashion industry, creating networks of care and systemic transformation in Brazil.
Maria Clara: What are the main changes that you notice with this moment of pandemic?
André: My third book is called Live the End and is about the need for us to accept that the world we knew when we were born has ended. The way we learn to study, work, relate and have fun has transformed in the face of all the possibilities that the digital revolution has brought us, but also because we are now more aware than ever about the urgent social and environmental issues which are pushing us beyond our ecological and psychological boundaries.
Now, I think we are seeing an opportunity for the people in our field to put into practice everything we have studied. I have been thinking and researching about the future for a long time and now, for the first time in a long time I see myself in the present. The future is very uncertain, and perhaps that is a gift.
In the present we are having the opportunity to experience changes that we thought would happen in the future. And the thing is what we do in order to never go back to ‘normal’. I am now more committed than ever to contribute to a collective imagining of a new future by interviewing people using my Instagram channel, participating in study groups and exchanging ideas to maintain sanity in the midst of so much information.
The people most likely to change behaviour patterns are those that have been mentally, financially, energetically and emotionally impacted.
Maria Clara: Do you think that the crises we are facing could be a catalyst for changes in our collective consciousness?
André: For some people, for example the super rich, the pandemic might not change their situation too much. If no one they know died and they haven’t been affected economically then maybe this person could go back to the same ‘normal’ lifestyle they had before. The people most likely to change behaviour patterns are those that have been mentally, financially, energetically and emotionally impacted. The pandemic is a great amplifier which enhances the desires that were already there. We are on the threshold of several futures when experiencing this collective rupture.
Systemic researcher Nora Bateson
, in her Warm Data Lab
project, speaks about how the pandemic has the potential to create the environment for meaningful and profound conversations. How do you perceive the impact of collective death on our relationships with each other?
André: I’ve never been afraid of death and have never really thought about how I’m going to die. During this crisis, I thought about my mother but never about the possibility of my own death until two friends of mine were hospitalised with Covid. Then I started to see the network of care that I am part of and understand how this crisis had changed the conversation. In my circle of friends and family people started to reach out to each other more than normal to ask “how are you today?” or “shall we FaceTime?” Of course this is because of the lack of real-life social contact during quarantine but also because of the desire to show care and create a deep listening environment. Before the crisis I was the one always listening and giving advice to my friends, but I saw that role shifting as I shared more of my own vulnerabilities and uncertainties.
Maria Clara: Do you feel that the crisis is driving a systemic perception of life in Brazil?
At the level of systems
this crisis made has made the interdependence of all things very clear. The food chain, the processes of everyday life that were paralysed.
For each person this perception of being interconnected will be different. In relation to climate issues, we’ve seen so many stories about how nature began regenerating when humans stopped that it would be impossible to say now that it’s ‘too late’ or that human behaviour has little effect on the climate. This idea that things have to remain as they were makes even less sense now that we’ve seen with our own eyes that when humans stop, the earth has this ability to regenerate.
Maria Clara: You come from the fashion world and have studied human behaviour in relation to consumption. What transformations are most significant for you in this sector?
The pandemic is unraveling a notion for us that people are different and needs are individual.
André: I find it difficult to talk about how consumption will change in the future, especially as we are not sure if there will be a future because of the way we are living now. I’m more concerned with how people today can produce and consume in a way which is more harmonious for the planet and people.
Regarding fashion consumption, the pandemic is unraveling a notion for us that people are different and needs are individual. We have no way of predicting how things will be different after this, but we're increasingly realising that there is a difference between essential and nonessential consumption. I see that there is a potential for people to rethink the need for what they are consuming based on what they know they need to survive, motivated by the financial crisis, such as unemployment and reduced wages, and expansion of awareness of nature and the impact of consumption on the environment.
Maria Clara: What is your perspective on Brazil's situation in particular, in regards to this crisis?
André: I think we are moving towards an increasingly local world, we have seen different realities emerging in cities because of the combination of human behaviour and government rules are determining new and different ‘presents’.
In some countries where there is extreme social vulnerability, collaboration networks between citizens are strengthened by government inefficiency. It is the relationships between people and families, and not government or financial institutions, that ensures people are taken care of. Although these local care networks should be celebrated they are also very fragile. The question is when will institutions change to reflect the reality that no one is self-sufficient? We are care networks. It is necessary to take care of each other in order to take care of yourself. This is another vision of what it is to be human.