One of the latest fashion trends has nothing to do with colors or style, it has to do with fabrics and how can designers protect the future of our planet, it’s the relatively new concept of ethical fashion or sustainable fashion.
If we are to look at a definition for “sustainable fashion”, this is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products.
Sustainable fashion also deals with considering fashion from the perspective of many stakeholders – users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future dwellers on earth. Therefore, sustainable fashion is both the responsibility of the citizens, the public sector, as well as the private one. While fast fashion describes clothing that is poorly made and have a negative impact on our environment, ethical clothing is the opposite, called also “slow fashion”. More and more designers nowadays are working on making their designs eco-friendly which in the long term can only be a benefit for people and our environment.
Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion
If you are wondering which material is sustainable, it’s easy, one that has previously been used. Anything new that has been produced – regardless of what material – has a negative impact on the environment. There are also the fabrics that come from recycled materials, like polyester from recycled plastic bottles, but if you want to buy clothes made from this material you need to check the label for 100% recycled polyester. However, fabrics made with sustainable fibers are better than conventional ones, like organic fibers that use fewer chemicals and water, or Tencel that’s safer for workers and has less waste. Check their website and Instagram page to a better understanding of Tencel what it means and what are the goals of the project.
You might think sustainable fashion is expensive, but it’s actually quite affordable, you can buy clothes from sites like Goodwill, eBay, thredUP, and you will find very accessible prices. While if you want to buy clothes from brands that follow ethical practices and give fair wages, use organic fibers, or create more durable items, you may end up paying more – but these garments are meant to last longer. Here are some suggestions for you:
Each item in the Conscious collection has an aspect that lessens its environmental impact, like organic cotton or recycled polyester. The best part is that the styles start at just $10 so you don’t have to spend a fortune on sustainable fashion. You can also recycle your unwanted clothing at H&M stores for a discount to buy something new. Even if it’s torn up and can’t be reworn, the brand makes sure the clothes are used for something else and won’t end up in a landfill. The H&M Group parent company says overall it uses 57% recycled or sustainably sourced fibers, with a goal to reach 100% by 2030.
From growing the cotton to dyeing and finishing, it takes over 2,000 gallons of water just to make one pair of jeans. Levi’s focuses on the finishing processes to remove water wherever possible with its Water<Less collection, which it says uses up to 96% less water to make. And because Levi’s is such a big player in the denim industry, steps like this can actually have an impact. On top of that, the brand publicly shares its in-depth sustainability commitments throughout the product lifecycle.
Polo Ralph Lauren
This is another example of a large brand making a simple change, yet it has the ability to make a significant impact on the environment because of its volume. The Earth Polo (also available in men’s and kid’s variations) is made of recycled water bottles and uses dyes that don’t require water in the application process. Even though it’s just a shirt, Polo Ralph Lauren estimates that it will save the equivalent of 170 million plastic bottles from landfills by 2025. The company also publishes a sustainability report to showcase its efforts and goals for years to come.
New wardrobe-essentials brand Pangaia uses bio-based fibers and materials from recycled plastic bottles to create their collection of color-pop tracksuits and basics that feel effortlessly cool with a conscience. Natural botanical dyes from plants are combined with antibacterial peppermint so that your clothes stay fresh for longer and every effort is made to ensure complete supply chain transparency. Hoodie, £124 and track pants, £100, thepangaia.com.
Lucy & Yak
Lucy & Yak is an independent, ethically, and sustainably made brand, dedicated to upholding a positive environmental and social impact. Each one of its garments (think boilersuits, colorful dungarees, and cropped sweatshirts) is made from organic fabrics and is produced by its factory in north India, where workers are paid four times the state minimum wage. All postage material and stationary is 100% recycled and biodegradable.
Each pair of Girlfriend Collective leggings and cycling shorts starts with 25 post-consumer recycled water bottles collected and sourced in Taiwan and ends with a spun fabric that is softer and more stable than a single-knit jersey. The American brand is now available worldwide online. It strives to be as transparent as possible and aims to make every part of its production process as eco-friendly as possible. Shorts, £40 and a crop top, £35. Available at brownsfashion.com.
Of course, these are just a few examples of sustainable fashion brands because there is a lot waiting for you to discover them. Today, so many young designers but not only, are starting to realize how important sustainable fashion is for the future and try to produce eco-friendly clothes at least by using fewer fabrics, less water, fewer chemicals, but more recycled materials and organic fibers.