Yes, I’m talking about fast-fashion brands over here. We need sustainable fashion more than anything now. But before I even get into the topic, let’s get clear about Sustainability and Fashion. Simply put, it is fashion that is both ethically produced and ecologically friendly.
All of this sounds straightforward, but being sustainable means having more overheads, which reduces profit margins. Consumers must be willing to pay more to help make the change, or at the very least, stop purchasing from companies that have no respect for the environment, for the industry to become more sustainable as a whole.
This shift in the zeitgeist appears to be taking place, as younger, more environmentally aware consumers gain clout in marketing demographics.
According to a report published in the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, sustainable fashion includes the following elements:
… local sourcing and production, transparency across the supply chain, traceability of work processes and raw materials, environmentally friendly raw materials, safe working conditions, and fair wages.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable or ethical Fashion is a concept where brands strictly design and manufacture clothes that concern and value social welfare and worker rights. These include avoiding child labor, no animal testing of products, animal cruelty, using animal fibers and leather, and much more.
Apparel companies can categorize their ecological practices into four categories.
Ethical Fashion: This includes production, working circumstances, and Fair Trade practises. Ethical fashion is a moral position taken by a business to ensure that no humans or animals are harmed as a result of their manufacturing practices.
Circular Fashion: This is a subset of the circular economy that advocates for all materials and products in society to be used and circulated among people for as long as possible while remaining environmentally safe, effective, and equitable. Recycling, upcycling, and thrifting are all examples of this.
Slow Fashion: Slow Fashion is the polar opposite of Fast Fashion, focusing on the long term and the entire product lifetime. This includes clothing sharing or renting, as well as garment quality to help them last longer and thus reduce the need to purchase new ones.
Conscious Fashion: This is more of a consumer message, explaining and encouraging them to purchase eco-friendly goods and support the green fashion movement.
Facts about Fashion Industry
Fashion is a billion-dollar industry but also one of the top pollutants of the environment, all thanks to Fast Fashion that refers mostly to disposable and cheaper fashion. They promote unethical behaviors like child labor, cheap labor, carbon emission in manufacturing units, and the production of plastic wastes.
- 150 Billion new garments are being produced every year annually that have major contributions from Fast Fashion.
- Most of the Fast Fashion clothing items are worn that has a life span of 2 months (5-10 times worn)
- On average, a person throws 37 kg of garments as garbage.
- Approx 1,00,000 marine animals die due to plastic waste produced by garbage dumps.
- 150 Million trees are cut to produce a fabric that comes from tree pulps and fibers.
- The international labor organization estimates 170 million working kids under 18.
- A silk saree that speaks the language of Indian tradition is made by a minimum of 10k-15k silkworms to make one saree.
- Common textiles like Polyester, viscose, and cotton emit greenhouse gases that result in Global Warming.
Does that feel good? It doesn’t feel like facts that the fashion industry should have. All of when you read, you’ll realize how much harm is already been done by these never-ending fashion brands! Having that said, Fast-fashion brands are still popular, why?
Why Fast-Fashion is more popular than Sustainable Fashion?
- You see the most trendy stuff, they’re regular and very frequently updated. Zara receives a new collection twice a week, while H&M has 16 collections in a year! If we consider seasons as a reason to update our wardrobes, do have even that many seasons?
- Fast Fashion brands are affordable. It consists of the exploitation of working laborers, low wages, below ideal work conditions, although the price must be minimal while you shop them but nobody can assure you of the quality. Polyester, Rayon, Spandex, Nylon are a few major components of fabric that result in carbon emission.
- A few fast fashion brands that are popular are Zara, H&M, Forever 21, GAP, Topshop, Fashion nova, Primark, Urban Outfitters, etc.
So now you know why Sustainability is important and why we need sustainable brands to do great business rather than fast Fashion Brands.
Why sustainable fashion is important?
The fashion business is extremely detrimental to the environment. Second only to oil in terms of global pollution, the sector is responsible for 20% of global industrial water pollution.
Many people are surprised to learn that the majority of clothing is made of plastic, resulting in a microplastic catastrophe.
Add to that the thousands of harmful chemicals used in textile factories around the world, which are hazardous to both the environment and the people who work with them, and it’s clear that the industry needs to change. That change must take the shape of environmentally friendly fashion.
How you can help yourself become more sustainable?
As the fashion industry moves towards sustainability, there will be many significant changes for companies, which we can assist with.
Sustainability should not be just buzzwords and vague slogans, which is why we are 100% dedicated to renewable, ethical, and eco-friendly practises.
With decades of industry expertise, we collaborate with our clients, manufacturers, and distributors to ensure a fair and sustainable practice for everyone.
1. Sustainability saves natural resources
According to a 2015 study, 97% of what goes into producing clothes is new resources, with only 3% being recycled materials. This equates to a yearly resource input of 98 million tons, which includes oil used to make synthetic fibers, fertilisers used to grow cotton, and an endless list of chemicals used to dye and finish fabric.
2. Protects Animal Cruelty
One common misconception is that leather, for example, is a byproduct of the meat business. However, this is not always the case. It is estimated that the leather business alone slaughters and kills over 430 million animals per year. I won’t go into more detail because it’s a subject in and of itself, but if you want to learn more about animal cruelty in the fashion industry, click on this link. PETA has a plethora of stories on the subject.
3. Ethical Fashion needs less water
Water is an important resource in the fashion business. It is used in the dyeing and finishing of nearly all of our garments. A single T-shirt consumes an amazing 2,700 litres of water. Cotton, in particular, is extremely reliant on water, but it is typically grown in hot, dry areas where water is already scarce. Organic cotton, on the other hand, uses 91% less water than regular cotton.
4. Doesn’t support Child Labour
According to recent UNICEF statistics, approximately 170 million children are engaged in some form of garment work, which is defined as “work for which the child is either too young – work done below the required minimum age – or work which, due to its detrimental nature or conditions, is entirely considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited.”
This is a huge red flag, and the idea of sending children to factories and subjecting them to work that mimics modern-day slavery in order to meet the fashion demands of the Western world is simply unacceptable.
5. Reduces Carbon Footprint
The worldwide fashion business emits a large amount of greenhouse gases each year, actively contributing to global warming. One of the reasons is that the vast majority of our beloved clothes are petroleum-based and manufactured from fossil fuels, such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon. (check your clothing labels, you may be surprised). These materials require considerably more energy to manufacture than natural or recycled fibres.
Sustainability is the future of fashion
“In the future of fashion, we will shift away from using new fabrics and towards upcycled materials, which will reduce our carbon footprint and waste.” The use of dead stock will ideally become more common, ensuring that our clothing does not end up in a landfill.”
To Wrap Up…
As women, we know how much we love fashion. Fashion is a part of us we can not ignore on, and when we know what we love is causing such harmful repercussions, we must switch to brands that are more eco-friendly and promise quality and comfort. Let me ask you now, Are you still a fast-fashion fan?
Because clothing plays such an important role in our daily lives, it is an extremely accessible way for us all to effect change. Even if we cannot directly influence the operations of a fashion company, we CAN educate ourselves and raise awareness about who produced our clothes, what they are made of, and how their production affects people and the environment.