Sustainability can occur at all levels within fashion, from the products manufacturing to recycling and reusing schemes (like Depop). There is no current accepted definition of ‘sustainable fashion’, but Green Strategy defines it as manufacturing, marketing and using clothes in the must sustainable way possible.
This can be achieved through means of recycling, using more efficient energy sources or improved working conditions whilst also supporting more ‘sustainable consumption patterns, caring and washing practices, and overall attitudes to fashion’.
This is hugely unsustainable for the future, especially when clothes are cheaply made and sold, just to be worn once and thrown away
The textile industry is one of the world’s worst polluters, growing more and more since the rise of ‘fast fashion’ and over-consumption, especially due to the increase in popularity of sites and shops like Shein, Boohoo and Primark. As a result of this generation’s dependence on social media for current trends and popular fashion styles, the demand for consumerism has rocketed – meaning that brands have had to boost production and marketing to meet the limited lifespan of ‘trending products’ – often to the demise of the environment. Due to this, many consumers often will wear clothing only once or twice (I am certainly guilty of this) before discarding, or before it falls apart because of how cheaply (but environmentally costly) it was to manufacture.
Especially as summer is just around the corner and coronavirus restrictions in the U.K. are set to be released on the 21st of June, the fashion industry is booming at the moment. Trending fast fashion brands have already introduced ‘lockdown exit outfits’ or ‘21st June’ sections onto their websites or apps, which have prices ranging from £2 – £48 (Boohoo) for over five-hundred items. The Guardian reported that Boohoo used Pakistani as their base for production, paying workers only 29p per hour, how can items that have been shipped 3,857 miles cost £2? This is hugely unsustainable for the future, especially when clothes are cheaply made and sold, just to be worn once and thrown away.
Sustainable brands like TALA, Carhartt WIP x Selfridge’s ‘Project Earth’ and House of Sunny adhere to the constant demand for ‘trending’ items, whilst taking into account environmental factors and materials being used in their products, without compromising on fit. Yes, this type of fashion is more expensive and it may take you longer to get your hands on it, but all in all it’s the right brands to be supporting
You’ve probably seen this brand all over Instagram, as well as trending on TikTok (the green midi Hockney dress)
Better For Your Bank – TALA
We are TALA aims to produce sustainable fashion whilst still ensuring their products are inclusive to all sizes, and available to all consumers through their more-affordable, ethically produced apparel. With high-performance sizes ranging from XS to XL, and prices beginning at £6.50 and capping at £75.00, this brand fits has something for everyone. TALA was founded by Grace Beverley, who begun as an influencer before launching her sustainable brand, with the intention of slowing fashion to create responsible and 100% recycled apparel with a long-term impact. For activewear, the brand actually sits in the middle of the market which for a sustainable and ethical brand, is very impressive.
Better For The Environment – House of Sunny
House of Sunny aims to prioritise the use of biodegradable and recycled materials, stating that their number one goal is to ‘avoid wastage’, whilst also acting against fast fashion. The brand avoids excess by donating textile scraps and offcuts, as they recognise the significance of reducing their impact on the environment in the fashion industry, especially when this is negative. You’ve probably seen this brand all over Instagram, as well as trending on TikTok (the green midi Hockney dress) – and it is rumoured to be the fashion inspiration behind summer 2021. Although the items aren’t cheaper than your average ASOS order, you cannot compete with their vibrant palettes and 70s prints.
As a consumer, it is difficult to constantly shop sustainable, especially as there aren’t as many brands promoting sustainability
Better For The Long-Term – Carhartt WIP x Selfridge’s ‘Project Earth’
Carhartt’s brand was originally created for skaters, but has now descended on the wider market, featuring as many people’s wardrobe essentials – as highly durable products. Now, the brand has partnered with Selfridges & Co on a more sustainable, but still long-lasting pieces. The collection includes hats and t-shirts fashioned from upcycled WIP fabrics (reducing their wastage as a company) to produce essentials which speak to longevity in the market, even featuring a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Garments to be lived in. To Beat up. Ones that endure, to improve’.
London-based designer Delly Deacon works with Carhartt in creating these unique pieces, which are exclusive to the Oxford Street Selfridges store. Again, reducing emissions by having a sole flagship store, minimising the travel burden these fabrics promote.Carhartt remains in the middle of the park with regards to pricing, but holds a firm position in durability and longevity.
As a consumer, it is difficult to constantly shop sustainably, especially as there aren’t as many brands promoting sustainability as many as there are promoting fast fashion, and they are on the more expensive side. However, this does not mean you can’t do your bit in protecting the environment and discouraging fast fashion industries from exploiting workers.
You can use re-selling and recycling initiatives like Depop, or donate your clothes to local charity shops and donation centres, or participate in global schemes like Levi’s ‘Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green’ programme (20% off products when you recycle old apparel) and H&M’s garment collection (which has collected over 78,000 tons of clothing since 2014). It is also recommended to invest in more timeless pieces, especially from higher-market brands, which would be more likely to be made with environmentally aware materials, and be of a better quality than many fast fashion alternatives…thus will likely last longer.
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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