With the poor state of our planet's environment, is it crucial that all fashion designers act responsibly, for the common good, and ensure that their fashion brand is sustainable.
So what is sustainable fashion? Sustainable fashion, otherwise known as eco fashion, has its roots in a movement of environmental sustainability that is gathering momentum. Accordingly, fashion should be designed in a manner that can be reproduced infinitely, maintaining intergenerational equity of environmental resources, i.e. humans should maintain the planet's environment for future generations.
The slow fashion movement is a backlash to the throwaway culture of fast fashion brands and the ensuing problems it engenders, including:
- the over use of land to grow the raw materials to produce plant-based textiles or to raise the animals whose skin, fur, or feathers are used in fashion
- the impact of chemicals used, e.g. the pesticides used to spray crops, the bleaching of textiles, and the dumping of textile dyes in rivers
- the large amount of energy used to manufacture and transport products around the world
- the mistreatment of garment workers who often work in poor conditions and receive low pay - child labour is also still used
- the suffering of the animals whose skin, hair and feathers are used in fashion
- the unnecessary generation of waste and its inappropriate disposal, usually in landfill sites
Google Earth Satellite used by Green Peace to show dye released from a jeans dying factory in China into a river that flows into the Dong River
Progressive ideas behind brands have driven the rise of sustainable fashion brands. However, when buyer behaviour comes under scrutiny, many shoppers are still buying seasonable products with a short shelf-life, which they have little or no information about regarding how that product was made and by whom.
As animals, we like to feel the comfort of fitting in. This need is felt particularly by the young, who are shackled to the conveyor belt of fashion that never stops, with it endless shifts in hem lengths, waist heights and hues. Fast fashion can only be described as an engine of environmental destruction.
And as the sustainable fashion designers gather on the horizon, for them to succeed, we need a complete paradigm shift in attitudes of the consumer, creating the demand for these new thinkers and their sustainable fashion. Basing our decision to purchase should no longer be according to the lowest price and hottest seasonal item.
We also need free-thinking fashionistas, who break their shackles and jump off the fashion conveyor belt. We can choose to buy timeless, quality fashion that we keep, and combine the contents of our wardrobe each day according to how we feel, rather than what someone else tells us to wear. We can buy upcycled clothing, as well as buying from and donating to charity shops selling second hand clothes.
Now that sounds like much more fun!