What is sustainable fashion?
If you’ve been around these parts for a while then you definitely would have seen the words “sustainable” and “fashion” thrown around. More often than not, these words probably would have been used side by side. But what do we mean when we say “sustainable fashion”? Does it only apply to the beige linen skirts and earthy-toned shirts uploaded to Instagram with a big ass caption? Sustainable fashion is an extremely broad topic and cannot be covered in one blog post, but we’re going to give it a red (or green because that’s the colour we usually aim for) hot go to give you the basics of what this concept actually is.
Sustainable fashion seeks to create an industry that is completely devoted to moving fashion towards a more environmentally and socially conscious future.
Sustainable fashion considers everyone and everything in its processes, from the health of our environment and the animals within it, to the people who create the clothes and the consumers for which clothes are a necessity.
Sustainable fashion is basically our answer to the big fat mess we as a society have made with the fast fashion model and is the way in which we are trying to ensure we have a planet for future generations, a planet that is not drowning in its own misused, warped resources.
So what systems do companies within the fashion industry put in place to be sustainable, you ask? The answer is a bloody lot.
Sustainable fashion companies consider the lifespan of a garment in the design stage of a garment’s life.
These garments are designed to pass seamlessly through trends and seasons, and become the timeless staples we see time and time again. Fabrics also play a tremendously important role in this—sustainable fashion companies consider the lifespan of a garment before it is even created, taking into account the strength and quality of the fabric they use and its ability to withstand weather, washes, and of course the inevitable coffee spills.
All of these factors contribute to the reason why most garments made through the companies that abide by the sustainable fashion model are generally more expensive on first purchase. More often than not the price tag reflects every single aspect of the garment’s life, including the labour from the workers who made it to the cost of sourcing the ethically made material. For example, a pair of Outland Denim jeans will set you back around the $200 mark, but you can be damn sure that the workers who made those jeans were paid a living wage and created them in a happy, safe environment, and those jeans will last you a very long time (EME tried and tested). It is also due to the fact that these pieces of clothing are made to last – the material is chosen because of its strength, durability, and its ability to biodegrade.
Perhaps the biggest common factor connecting the companies operating with sustainable processes is the care and concern they show towards the people who make their clothing, and the environment from which they extract their materials. These progressive businesses know that in order for them to be sustainable they must ensure their garment workers are taken care of by being paid fairly, and also that they are provided with every basic human right (food, shelter, healthcare, appropriate levels of leave, and education). These companies are also extremely aware of the damaging impact the modern fashion industry has, and is continuing to have, on the environment and its ecosystems
We’d like to point out that although there’s some absolutely incredible companies around doing everything they can to provide consumers with more environmentally friendly alternatives to the modern fast fashion model (you can see a bunch of these companies here), there is no such thing as a 100% sustainable company. It’s just not possible.
The most sustainable thing we could all do would be to not exist at all, but that’s obviously just not ever going to be a thing, so the second best thing we can do is to spend our money wisely and support those businesses that are putting systems in place in order to sustainably exist on this planet. We’ve said it multiple times and we’ll say it til the cows come home: we all vote with our wallets for the kind of world we want to live in, so we should all participate in sustainable fashion.
Image via the fashion label that is proving that sustainability, ethics and fashion can all go hand in hand – Lois Hazel.