Why is Sustainability Important for the Fashion Industry?Fashion
Why is Sustainability Important for the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry today is a multi billion dollar business affecting everyone around the world in some way! Business are booming, but at what cost to others? Fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, following right after oil. Due to speedy production and over consumption, the fashion industry has landed itself on an environmentally damaging path, much different than 100 years ago. Although, the industrial revolution and the creation of ready-to-wear in the early 1900’s may have sparked the initial beginning. It was not until fast fashion took over our closets, that the real numbers started to show.
According to the True Cost, a documentary highlighting the reality of the fashion industry, states that the average American throws away 82 pounds annually of garments, accessories and shoes. Fulling this is the creation of cheap trendy collections, known as fast fashion. Fast fashion bases its business model on high volume collections and speedy production. Because production is so fast and the clothing is right on trend, consumers cannot help to be constantly bombarded with the latest item they must have! The reality is though, we really do not need this much clothing in our lives. According to the documentary, worldwide, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing a month; which is a 400% increase from two decades ago.
This clothing as well, unless specified as fair trade or organic, contains harmful dyes, toxins and pesticides that seep into the Earth’s system when thrown away. The toxins also carry on into the garments as we wear and cherish them.
Along with chemicals, the fashion industry also uses an intense amount of water, from the start of the process to even the stages of home washing. This high number reality can be seen through the fact that; to make one cotton t-shirt today uses up 2,700 gallons of fresh water.
Knowing what we know, the hard question then is to ask ourselves; how do we change as an industry and how can consumers take action?
For starters the facade of trend desires and over consumption must evaporate. As a consumer it is important to shop responsible and realize you do not need to have every latest piece in the book to be considered fashionable! And in regards to brands, I believe that a shift towards high quality and sustainable methods is the golden ticket!
At the rate of today within western society, we consume way beyond our needs. It has come to a point where enough is enough! But at the same time the fashion industry has listened and there are many incredible brands around testing the limits of design and choosing to see why we need sustainability.
With retrospect to fashion, sustainability has been developed to reinvent the industry through environmentally focused production, design and consumption. From eco friendly materials to new ideas in technology, sustainability is here to develop an industry that does not jeopardize the needs of future generations to come, for the ease of the present.
Sustainability is incredibly important and on everyone’s radar! Even companies such as H&M, Nike, Adidas and Zara who are known for creating fast fashion collections around the world are even working to develop a sustainable shift. Although we have a long way to go, the industry is at least on the right path towards a common understanding and an honest reflection towards what needs to change! But also the power is in the hands of you, the consumer! You have the option to choose and to do so SFSFW is here give some tips on what to look for when buying sustainable garments and what they mean.
Organic: When a garment holds the organic stamp, it means that the materials which were used come from an organic farming process and hold no pesticides. For example organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. It also contains no GMO’s and follows an according law of standards. Organic materials, especially cotton are very popular right now within the fashion industry.
Fair Trade: Fair Trade aims to protect farmers and workers basic rights in regards to unions, wages, conditions and more. Through fair trade clothing companies are able to make a difference for the lives of the people who grow and make the things we love. By companies holding this stamp on their products, it is an easy guaranteed to understand that the garments they produce comply with the rules of Fair Trade. People Tree is a clothing brand that has pioneered in Fair Trade production. For more than 25 years the have chosen to work with fair trade, primarily in regards to cotton farmers, producers garment workers and artisans to create a more sustainable fashion industry.
Naturally Dyed: Another important factor about the garment is how it is dyed. Today due to a strong interest in color vibrancy and price, synthetic dyes are a strong go to within the production of fashion. However though, by companies choosing to use synthetic dyes instead of natural, heavy production sites end up with polluted water filled with toxins and chemicals. To prevent this, a great method for companies instead is to choose to use natural dyes and materials. By sticking with things such as indigo, turmeric and onion shells the fashion industry can come back to a more historical and natural pace.
Recycled: To be able to create a circular economy it is important to keep the system of materials and goods going. A great way to do this within the fashion industry is to create future collections from either left over textiles or previously used materials. By brands reusing what already exists instead of creating things from new, we can also minimize the use of land, water and labour. A new brand created by H&M called Arket knows the value in materials and has decided to create sweaters from recycled cashmere! With Scandinavian design in mind, their knits embrace a coolness of modern fashion and sustainability all into one package.