In a survey on sustainable fashion we conducted,
- 70% responded it’s a big issue and I want to do my part, and
- 30% responded I’ve heard about it but need more information.
Indeed, the issue of sustainability in fashion can be overwhelming because business as usual across the fashion value chain is not sustainable - it is a huge contributor to pollution, greenhouse gasses, and microplastics, brands exploit garment workers, the clothes we wear are full of harmful chemicals, and antiquated standards of beauty are still perpetuated.
If you are on a journey to incorporate sustainable fashion into your wardrobe, or are transitioning to slow fashion, we’re here to help answer some of the most common questions
First off, what can be done?
Today there are many emerging models in sustainable fashion. There is ethical fashion, conscious fashion, circular fashion, and many others. However, these terms seem to be used interchangeably, and it can get confusing. So the next question is, what’s the difference between all these terms? In this post, we talk about sustainable fashion, mindful and conscious fashion, slow fashion, ethical fashion, circular fashion, and inclusive fashion.
Refers to business models that strive to achieve goals in people, planet, and profit. For people, it means not exploiting individuals and communities. It also means using natural dyes that are not harmful to our bodies. For the planet, it means not depleting natural resources and taking a long-term approach to production and consumption. It also includes avoiding the use of pesticides, minimizing the use of water through waste water treatment, the use of renewable energy, and minimizing plastic in packaging. For profit, it means being able to generate a surplus to sustain operations and grow but without the mindset of growth at all costs and growth for growth’s sake.
Overall, sustainable fashion is the overarching principle which encompasses the other principles. The vision is a fashion industry that avoids harm and creates good.
Mindful and conscious fashion
Where sustainable fashion more often refers to the practices of companies in the industry, mindful/conscious fashion refers more to consumers who take people, planet, and animals into consideration when purchasing.
Is the opposite of fast fashion. Fast fashion is about over production and over consumption, putting out new items weekly. Slow fashion brands usually put out only one to two collections a year or even offer the same silhouettes in different fabrics or colorways. Slow fashion is about mindful consumption and buying pieces that are seasonless and are built to last.
Ethical fashion refers to practicing production processes that do no harm to people and animals. It encompasses issues such as good working conditions (not sweatshops!), paying a fair wage and providing the right benefits, and practicing fair trade
Refers to the mindset that at the end of life of our clothes, they can still remain in the fashion supply chain rather than be waste that goes to the landfill. To accomplish this, clothes must be intentionally designed for ease of material recovery and suitability for biodegradability. So what this means is zippers and buttons can be removed from old clothes and reused again, the fabric itself can be used to make new pieces, or the fabric can be decompose and be used as fertilizer.
Inclusive fashion is recognizing and designing for the needs of all body types, different sizes, and different abilities, including PWDs. This also includes diversity in fashion i.e. showing people of different shapes, sizes, color, and sexuality in marketing materials as well - not because it’s a marketing tactic but because we want people all over the world to see others they can relate with.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Here are some of our references and are great resources to check out to learn more terms in sustainable fashion:
Now that you know a little more about sustainable fashion, we'd love to hear from you, amor. Which sustainable fashion practice resonates the most for you? Reach out to us, send us a message, and sign up for our newsletter.
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash