What is sustainable fashion and how does it affect the entire fashion industry
The past decade has become a turning point for humanity and has left a lasting imprint on the fashion world. Ecology is increasingly coming to the fore, and almost any material about fashion, be it a publication on social networks or a video, contains a mention of sustainable fashion. What does this term mean and what is the impact of sustainability on the modern fashion industry?
What is sustainable fashion
The concept of sustainable fashion has gone beyond the vocabulary of professional fashion industry dictionaries and has become firmly established in everyday life. Responsible consumption is now an urgent measure, and it is not just eco-activists who are concerned about the threat of environmental pollution. Responsibility is also felt by multinational corporations and niche brands, which call for a new look at production processes and abandon excess consumption.
The annual turnover of garment production is about 150 billion units. Thus, the harm in the form of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of the work of the light industry sector is significantly greater than the volume of emissions produced during the same period by air and water transport.
Sustainable brand concept
The threat to the environment is difficult to overestimate, but what are the principles of responsible fashion?
Of course, it is not so easy to rebuild the concept of work, built and verified over the years, but in order for the brand to comply with the principles of sustainable development, it is important to control the following points:
- reduction of electricity consumption in the production process;
- compensation of harmful emissions into the atmosphere;
- reduction in water use;
- minimizing the use of chemicals;
- recycling and reuse of materials;
- ensuring decent working conditions for employees;
- transparency of supply chains.
Alas, the overwhelming number of companies in the textile market today carries out no more than a couple of items from this list, and the sphere remains one of the most harmful to the planet.
The fast-fashion concept that encourages the consumer to renew their wardrobe every couple of months is extremely dangerous for the environment. Clothes of mediocre quality at an affordable cost, sold by large chains in the mass market segment, quickly lose their appearance and become unusable.
But will the rejection of synthetic fabrics have the desired effect? And although things made from natural fibers are of high quality, they do not lose their appearance after numerous washes, and will last a long time, but without a responsible approach to consumption issues, they pose no less threat to the environment. The fact is that any clothing does not decompose quickly enough, even if it is made of natural materials and is not dyed with artificial dyes.
Recycling and reuse
The structure of synthetic materials contains microplastics, the particles of which are separated with each wash and with water fall into the world’s oceans. Therefore, more and more brands are adopting the trendy idea of recycling items from their collections to reuse fabrics. Moreover, many companies from the world of the fashion industry today finance the recycling of plastics, in particular bottles. As a result of their melting, ecological polyester is obtained, which is used in the production of clothing. Accordingly, the life cycle of the product does not stop there, and it can be recycled again and gain a third life.
Over-production is able to reduce the amount of fabric used and arrive at the concept of sustainable fashion. Consumers, in turn, are becoming more consumer conscious and favor brands that are responsible and respectful of the environment.
Undoubtedly, the issues of recycling and rejection of harmful technologies in production are the most important for the protection of the environment. However, the notion of “sustainable fashion” hides an equally urgent problem for corporations involved in tailoring – respecting workers’ rights and ensuring working conditions.
If earlier not everyone thought about the intricacies of clothing production, regardless of the segment – mass market or luxury, then the pandemic that swept the planet and paused the work of factories drew attention to the problem of people who worked to create fashionable clothes. Thousands of employees who have been making profit for brands for years have been left without sources of livelihood and without support from employing companies.
More and more buyers are gaining awareness and interest in manufacturing processes, demanding transparency from fashion companies at all parts of the supply chain. Ensuring a quality workspace and fair wages are among the principles of sustainable fashion.
Like any phenomenon, sustainable fashion requires an integrated approach and collective responsibility. Garment manufacturers are responsible for reducing the environmental impact they cause each year. And buyers, gaining awareness, can help with this by making ever higher demands and giving preference to sustainable brands, because demand always gives rise to supply.