If we consider recent trends as an indication, the fashion industry has shown remarkable period of healing and opting for sustainable fashion, with major luxurious brands to some of the smaller brands are favouring the eco-friendly and cruelty-free methods for production of their garments by overlooking the traditional methods of production which was unsustainable, exploitative, and unethical practices in order to make and sell clothes.
While brands face issues such as the cost and availability of sustainable materials, more than half of the industry players want at least half of their products to be made with sustainable materials by 2025, according to the study, which polled 64 global sourcing executives with a combined buying power of $100 billion.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a long overdue goal that has to be achieved by the industry, and it’s definitely growing and there are definitely no signs of slowing down this time. It is a goal to create a system that supports environmental impact and social responsibility.
The vegan revolution in food has been gaining steady popularity being closely associated with general environmental concerns bound to the ideology of animal-rights. However not many people are aware of the damage imposed by the clothing and textile industry and the impact their clothes and fashion statement has on the global environmental conditions.
Clothing is an upswing in defining the culture, status and persona in human civilization. Profession, age groups, gender and social hierarchy of an individual is defined by clothing. From a mere necessity to becoming a symbol of stature, clothing became a fashion statement and began the uprising of industries.
With the expansion of the human population, demand for clothing led to mass production and depletion of natural fibres such as cotton, linen, silk, wool etc. Alternatives for clothing fibres were required and polyesters and plastic fibres came into existence. Animal based clothes became a status quo. Clothing being a disposable asset began generating more demands and thus more textile industries.
Textile factories dump untreated toxic wastewater containing lead, mercury and arsenic directly into rivers and natural water reservoirs. Fertilizers used to grow cotton pollute runoff waters. Health of millions of people and aquatic life get compromised. Fashion industry is a major consumer of water.
The process of growing cotton and creating dyed fabric requires large quantities of water. The fashion industry generates a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during production, manufacturing, and transportation of millions of garments purchased each year.
Organic and natural fibres such as linen, recycled fibres do not require chemicals and consume less water. Semi- synthetic fibres are affordable and biodegradable. Recycling and donating clothes reduce waste accumulation in landfills. Organic fibres and sustainable fashion brands cause less harm to consumers and are long lasting as well.
Fashion is after all a platform for showcasing creativity and can be achieved while meeting concerns of human civilization. Buy less, Buy sustainable fashion and better quality, mend and recycle with creativity.
Consumers are changing the game
Younger consumers are encouraging brands and retailers to take up responsibility for sustainable fashion more seriously. The younger consumers are smartly more conscious about the origin of the fabrics or garments, the composition, carbon footprints and other materials of what they purchase and wear.
Revising through many studies in the past few years have confirmed that 65 -70% of the consumers who will choose sustainable fashion from brands and retailers based on their ethical choices are under the age of 35.
It’s good to see that we are making ethical and smarter choices now, but what about the outfits we already own in our wardrobes?
Well, just as preloved furniture is enjoying a revival, so is preloved fashion. This is the time to be more creative and try different ways of wearing your old garments. Also in some places people are embracing the idea of purchasing ‘new to you’ clothes – and opening a ‘Re-loved Pop Up Shop’. Isn’t is more appealing to see your preloved fashion choices have a growth in someone else’s wardrobe.
- Expand the Narrative
The increased access to the consumers which is enabled by technology through e-commerce websites and social media platforms, brands are marketing awareness-building campaigns for consumers education and expanding their narrative by explaining how the products are made and their manufacturing details.
- Pause the Fast Fashion
A startling McKinsey 2016 report revealed that the number of garments produced each year has doubled since 2000, exceeding 100 billion for the first time since 2014, or 14 new clothing items for every person on earth each day.
We can minimize consumption of fabrics and waste less through some creative marketing process. Each piece can be made to order, this is like a subscription to “slow and sustainable fashion”. This way the consumer can preview styles, order and wait for their items to arrive. The creation of clothing in small batches does away with the waste of creating too many items that go unpurchased.
Many companies are promoting sharing of clothing, like “ Rent the Runway”, to reduce the waste that accumulates by the dresses and outfits. These are the outfits that are hardly worn once or twice during an occasion. Resale sites such as Poshmark, The RealReal and ThredUp have scaled rapidly, appealing to both buyers seeking value and sellers who want to monetize items they no longer want.
- Will consumers have to pay more?
Purchasing a high-quality sustainable fashion t-shirt which was ethically sourced, will last for over three years approximately, but the cost is comparatively higher say $50, than buying a t-shirt for $20 which will not last more than six months.
In the wake of the current pandemic that has begun changing the course of human history, we could possibly choose two very contradicting perspectives. One, an apocalypse, leading to depressing thoughts of regrets and an analysis of what you could have done differently to the society, your family, or even with yourself as an individual. The other, realizing a new beginning, a second chance to plan a change for betterment. These two views might be poles apart but calls the need for an alternative lifestyle for a more sustainable fashion civilization.
Shopping clothes is not going to stop. Consumers will find more creative ways to shop. However, the market has become more transparent and sustainable fashion has become one of the main demands of the consumers. It’s high time fashion companies develop concepts and content that embrace the present ongoing Eco-trend and communicate the same through their brand.