What is sustainable fashion and why should we care?
Sustainable fashion is the latest buzzword circulating around the industry, but is it simply another marketing term or is there something more substantial behind it?
What exactly is sustainable fashion?
To sum it up, the sustainable fashion movement aims to create clothing that is ethically made and environmentally friendly.
Sounds simple, right?
The problem is, being “ethical” tends to go hand-in-hand with profit loss, so brands and companies are reluctant to do it.
The only way they will make the switch is if consumers start only buying ethically, forcing them to change their practices or lose business.
Why sustainable fashion is so important
It may surprise you to learn that the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters.
In fact, the industry is second only to oil when it comes to pollution, responsible for 20% of global industrial water pollution.
On top of that, textile mills use 20,000 chemicals, many of them carcinogenic, to make clothes.
Most of those clothes are made from plastic, which is creating a catastrophe in the making with microfibres in our oceans.
For the people who make these garments, sustainable fashion also means better working conditions, fairer pay, and less illegal sweatshops.
The only way to break this cycle of death, destruction, and pollution is to aim for sustainability.
What makes clothes sustainable?
Companies can’t just say their packaging is made from recyclable materials, so therefore they are a sustainable brand, it doesn’t work like that.
Sustainable fashion permeates every aspect of the industry.
From the farms where the cotton is grown which is eventually weaved into fabric, to the treatment of animals which are sheared for their wool, sustainable fashion is only sustainable if every part of the process is accountable.
According to the UN Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Only clothing which is made from environmentally-friendly materials, uses natural resources responsibly, and does not hurt anyone in the process – can be considered sustainable fashion.
3 important reasons to care about sustainable fashion
So that’s sustainable fashion – but why should you care?
The fast fashion phenomenon can give you new clothes every 6 months and at a fraction of the cost!
Well, yes that’s true, but that’s the problem.
Better for workers
If you buy a dress for $100, how much of that do you think goes to the poor woman who made it in Bangladesh?
The fashion industry makes billions in profits every year, yet the 60-million strong workforce that powers it (over 90% of whom are women) are living in poverty.
Sustainable fashion gives these workers rights, including a decent living wage, safer working conditions, and less risk of being sexually assaulted.
Better for the environment
We’ve already mentioned the damage the textile industry is doing to the environment, contributing to around 10% of global carbon emissions.
To put that 10% into context, that’s more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The middle-class around the world has grown considerably in the previous 20 years, and this has resulted in clothing production more than doubling to over 100 billion items of clothing per year.
An astonishing 85% of these end up in a landfill – for the simple reason they are cheaply made and easily disposable.
Sustainable fashion creates longer-lasting clothes of a higher quality, meaning that while they are more expensive initially, they will stay in your wardrobe for years.
Even when they come to the end of their life, because they are made from recyclable material, they can be used again to create another product for future generations.
Better for the future
One or two people investing in sustainable fashion isn’t going to change the world, which is why everyone needs to get on board.
A change in the zeitgeist is needed, which, at the moment, looks to be happening as the younger generation grows into active consumers.
But we can’t wait that long – we need people to start buying ethically now.
Many big-name brands are leading the way in sustainability, but until the majority of consumers begin to put their money where their mouth is, profits will always rule the decision makers.
Sustainable fashion is a conscious choice to be made by individuals, not by companies.
A brave new world
If the textile industry is to move towards sustainable fashion, then there are a lot of big changes ahead for businesses.
Every aspect of the production chain needs to transform, from sourcing raw materials and treatment of workers, to shipping and the attitude of consumers.
With the world evolving and changing, people are starting to change with it, and sustainable fashion is the next step in the industry.
As a company, we aim for sustainability and encourage our clients to join us, both for the sake of the planet and the future of their business.
If your company needs help with making environmental and sustainable changes, then contact us today and let’s have a chat about how we can help you prepare for the future.
No matter what lies ahead for the fashion industry, we will still be here, working together with our clients, manufacturers, and distributors to ensure fair and sustainable practices for everyone.