As the second most polluting industry in the world, the fashion industry has come under fire for not just its impact on the environment, but also ethical factors.
Our demand for ‘fast fashion’ is the culprit. We live in a ‘wear it once’ society and unfortunately the large fashion brands make this all too easy by offering cheap alternatives that you ‘afford’ to only wear once. Unfortunately, this mentality that we should not repeat outfits is still engrained in the way we look at fashion, and it needs to change.
The effects of this gigantic industry is evident across the world; polluting rivers in India, sending thousands of tonnes of clothing to landfill to increasing of CO2 emissions - consuming more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined.
As we gain more of an understanding of the effects of the fashion industry, some brands have taken it into their own hands and are pioneering the move towards a sustainable fashion industry.
One of the most famous brands at the front of this change is Stella McCartney, her mission statement begins.. “we are committed to operating a modern and responsible business”. McCartney’s eponymous label began in 2001 and has been changing the way the industry looks at high-end fashion, proving that it is possible to create beautifully designed clothing that won’t have a detrimental effect on our planet.
American brand, Reformation are taking the sustainable world by storm - by working to use the most sustainable materials, including the use of deadstock materials and vintage clothing as a basis for some of their designs. Now, they're offering free express shipping to the UK, as well as easy returns and taxes included in pricing - making it much more accessible for us over the pond!
The idea that sustainable fashion is unaffordable is quickly becoming a myth, with H&M’s Conscious collection you can shop in your favourite high street brand without the guilt. All Conscious garments must contain at least 50% sustainable materials to qualify, but they state that many of this collection can contain more than that. They also offer a £5 reward voucher for any bags of unwanted clothes you bring in to the store, in the hope it will encourage shoppers to recycle their clothes rather than send them to landfill.
Manchester based Native Youth have created a sustainable collection, where products are made from 100% lyocell - a naturally biodegradable fabric. Production of these products also has no harmful bi-product, so basically they don’t harm the planet being made or when they’re disposed of - if that isn’t a good enough initiative, we don’t know what is!
It’s no secret how detrimental the production of denim is on the environment, it takes 2,000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans - so when the masters of denim came forward with their Waste<Less Collection, it was clear all brands could be doing more. Garments are made from 20% post-consumer waste, that’s around 3 - 8 plastic bottles per pair of jeans. They’re latest collection Levi’s Wellthread is their “most sustainably designed collection”: made with earth-friendly hemp, 100% recyclable, use 96% less water and are sewn in Worker Well-Being facilities.
To counteract the thousands of tents left behind during festival season, Wales based brand Billygoats and Raincoats collects these unwanted tents and repurposes them into colourful raincoats for children. They’re looking to expand into adult wear in the near future, we can’t wait to see what they come up with!
It’s also important to note that one of the key problems with the fashion industry is our consumption, meaning that just changing how we buy can have an equally as positive impact that where we buy from.
Try buying from charity shops, thrift shops or auction sites (like eBay or Depop) - more of us are starting to sell on our unwanted clothes, celebrities are even doing it - if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us!
Cut down on how many new products you buy - it seems obvious, but going shopping with a list of a couple of key items you are after, makes it easier to avoid impulse buying.
Invest in garments that are made from sustainable or recycled materials - some sustainable brands are pricey, but the fact that it’ll last and has come from a good place, makes the heavier price tag much easier to handle.
Repeat the damn outfit! Who is really going to notice if you wear your favourite skirt twice in one week, if you don’t love it enough to do that, why did you buy it in the first place?
Consider whether you really need that new garment before it’s too late - *tip* hang up your new purchase somewhere you can see it every day, if you still love it after a few days, keep it, if not, return it!