How to determine if a brand takes sustainable fashion seriously
There’s no doubt that sustainable fashion is now a serious issue for the industry, but with the term being so nebulous, it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes a brand sustainable.
It’s not difficult for a company to plant a tree and then say they’re “eco-friendly”, so how do we know if a brand’s standards of sustainability match our own?
While there are no set laws regarding what companies can say to claim they’re environmentally responsible, as consumers you have the right to make that decision for yourself.
When checking if a brand takes sustainable fashion seriously, you need to ask yourself the following things.
What are the clothes made of?
The easiest way to find out about a garment is to simply read the label.
A good clothing label will have detailed information about the material used to make the garment, allowing the consumer to decide whether or not to buy.
Surprisingly most of our clothes are made from plastic, with around 65% of our clothes coming from synthetic material, mostly polyester, acrylic, and nylon.
Cotton is less damaging, but still uses a lot of fresh water to produce – around two and a half years of drinking water to make a single t-shirt. Organic cotton is cotton grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, offering 40% less “global warming potential” than traditionally manufactured cotton.
Many people are now turning to more organic materials for their clothing, such as hemp, bamboo and flax and although more expensive – they are more sustainable.
Where do the clothes come from?
Most of the world’s apparel is made in Asia, where workers where wages and conditions for workers (90% of whom are women) can be a shock to consumers in the west.
Companies do this to keep costs down, while still charging their customers as much as possible.
This “profit before people” policy of large companies is now being snubbed by consumers for more ethical practice, but it still makes up the vast majority of the industry.
The damage to the local environment is also appalling.
Textile mills generate 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution and use 20,000 chemicals, many of them carcinogenic, to make clothes.
Rivers, lakes and waterways in Asian communities are polluted beyond recognition from the factories which make our clothes, with little or no environmental laws in place.
It’s a sad fact that you can tell which colours will be popular in the fashion industry next season by what colour the rivers in China are now!
If you are serious about buying sustainable fashion, then shop for locally made clothes, or purchase a brand that has proven to abide by environmental laws and Fair Trade rules.
What are the brand’s policies and reputation?
Just because a company claims to be “green” doesn’t mean they are.
There are plenty of times brands have been caught out pretending to have sustainable practices, but in fact they do the opposite.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to research a brand to see if they take sustainability seriously.
The Transparency Index reviews 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers, ranking them according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.
While not a guarantee that a brand is keeping to its word, it’s a good start.
Another place to start is the Good on You App, which helps you shop locally and find sustainable brands.
Signs to watch out for
The International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) hosts an annual website “sweeps”, where companies’ sites are examined to remove potentially fraudulent, deceptive or unfair online conduct.
This year, it found that a massive 40% of websites are misleading customers about their sustainability commitments.
These included vague claims and unclear language including terms such as ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ or reference to ‘natural products’ without adequate explanation or evidence of the claims, as well as using logos and labels which, while looking “green”, were not associated with an accredited organisation.
Sustainable brands tend to go to extra lengths to prove their commitment, so look into exactly what it is they’re claiming.
Legitimate sustainable fashion brands will have a lot of specific, well-organized and clear information about their environmental policies and practices.
A brand that simply uses a lot of buzzwords, images of natural beauty spots like lakes or mountains, or promises to plant a tree for every $10 you spend are generally not being 100% honest with you.
We take sustainable fashion seriously
With sustainability and environmentalism now the cause célèbre for many in the apparel industry, it’s difficult to sort out those who are genuine about going green and those who are pretending, just to stay up with the times.
It is our strong belief that a commitment to sustainability shouldn’t just be buzzwords and vague slogans.
It’s our philosophy that a greener, more environmentally-friendly business practice is not only important for the planet, but also for the future survival of a business.
We don’t just talk about sustainability, we are 100% committed to renewable, ethical, and eco-friendly practices for our company, at all levels of operation.
To find out more about our commitment, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
We would be happy to help you and your business trend towards a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.