Sustainable fashion. At the forefront of the fashion industry over the past decade, the prioritisation of eco-friendly resources and ethically-made produce has demanded the reinvention of fashion as we know it. Producing an astounding 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year, fast fashion makes major contributions to societies rising fears over climate change.
Thankfully, high street brands have begun to respond proactively, creating sustainable collections including H&M’s Conscious Collection, and ASOS’s Responsible Edit. But, it’s clear that there is still a fair way to go. Separating their sustainable collections from the main cohort of the brand somewhat defeats the point of the movement. Instead, it demonstrates a half-hearted attempt to appease environmentalists. Not to mention the fact that the rest of their company remains unethical. Even with a sustainable range, H&M prevails as the world’s second biggest producer of fashion products designed to be worn just a few times and then discarded.
The reality is that even sustainable companies are more focused on catering to sizes 16 and below because on average, the plus-size community make up around 1/5 of consumers.
Yet, issues also arise within exclusively sustainable clothing brands. To enforce fair wages, safe working environments, and source ethical materials, they are forced to increase their pricing. As modern day consumers, we have become so accustom to cheap and convenient clothing that for most people, the idea of spending more than £10 on a top seems ludicrous. Although, as students, alongside others who are also on a tight budget, we simply cannot afford to shop completely sustainable even if we wanted to. This raises issues regarding the influence of capitalism within the fashion industry and its detrimental contribution to environmental concerns.
The inclusivity of sustainable fashion brands is also slightly problematic. Excluded by the fashion industry for decades, and rejected by narrow-minded beauty “norms”, the plus-size community was once again ignored by the majority of sustainable clothing brands. When considering that the plus-size community is forecasted to account for 22% of the UK clothing market by 2022, this omission is difficult to believe. With few brands producing well-fitting and fashionable plus-size clothing in our current market, smaller, sustainable brands struggle even more to afford and provide an expansive sizing range- due to a lower budget and slower production rates. The reality is that even sustainable companies are more focused on catering to sizes 16 and below because on average, the plus-size community make up around 1/5 of consumers. Therefore, they don’t bring in as much revenue or profit.
Of course, this is not an excuse.
Taking into account it’s costly nature, and the rarity of all-inclusive sizing, I have complied a short list of 3 sustainable clothing brands who cater to both men and women (although I must admit, it wasn’t an easy task).
- Girlfriend Collective (XXS-6XL).
With 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, Girlfriend Collective offers an array of ethical active wear. With a vast range of sizes, they provide clothing on a scale rarely seen in the fashion industry, let alone the sustainable market. On their website, the ‘About’ page presents an in-depth account of their sustainable process, proving to be one of the most ethically transparent brands I’ve ever come across. They also have a ‘For everyone’ section which has unisex clothing!
Their A-Z guide to the fashion industry details 26 reasons why ‘Fashion is dirty’, putting an educative spin on sustainability. They strive to do better, admitting that sustainability is a process, not an overnight success.
- Organic Basics (sizes XS-XL).
In their 2020 Impact report, Organic Basics supply an overview of their yearly progress as an ethical company- looking ahead with new goals and initiatives. Although on the more expensive side, they offer high quality essentials for any wardrobe, and have even created a sustainable collection named ‘Circular Denim’, which is no more expensive than say Levi’s or Calvin Klein, but is far more ethical. Their A-Z guide to the fashion industry details 26 reasons why ‘Fashion is dirty’, putting an educative spin on sustainability. They strive to do better, admitting that sustainability is a process, not an overnight success.
- Lucy & Yak (sizes XS-XXL).
Creating funky and bright clothing, Lucy & Yak are a family owned business originally from New Zealand who pride themselves on the ethos of their company, with sustainability at their core. The website also provides important information and guidance on fair living wages, supplying a ‘Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing Guide’ to help promote the cause. While researching sustainable and inclusive fashion brands, Lucy & Yak were one of the few companies who provided unique and youthful clothing- pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you are interested in buying more sustainably, the ‘Good on you’ website is an invaluable resource. Ranking brands out of 5 (1 being ‘We Avoid’, and 5 being ‘Great’) on their sustainability as a company, ‘Good on you’ is a great tool to use when you want to buy from a certain brand, but are unsure of its ethical background and want to find out more before purchasing. They also recommend sustainable brands, which can be extremely helpful if you’re new to the market and don’t know where to start!
Featured image courtesy of @harpersunday via Unsplash . Image license found here. No changes made to this image.
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