Fashion is a beautiful, complex, and ever-changing concept. But it might be moving too fast for us—and the planet—to follow along. With the emergence of micro seasons that last as short as a week, fast fashion has never been this “fast.”
Trendy clothing items that are good for a few wears are now commonplace, and high-quality items that transcend fads are more challenging to find.
Unsurprisingly, due to the scale of production and our increasingly consumerist culture, the fashion industry contributes a staggering 10% of global greenhouse emissions. Pair that with the fact that the average American throws about 70 lbs of clothing a year, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. 
But with recent trends in eco-consciousness and socially-charged consumer behaviors, are trends in the fashion industry becoming more eco-friendly?
Is Fashion Becoming More Eco-friendly?
As of right now, the fashion industry remains parallel with the global culture of consumerism. That is, it’s still a high-speed sector of the market, and new trends are popping up in the blink of an eye.
However, that isn’t to say there aren’t positive changes in the market. You may even have noticed an uptick in brands offering more eco-friendly options or people becoming more aware of their clothes’ environmental impact.
Here are some of the ways fashion is (slowly) becoming more eco-friendly.
An Uptick in GOTS Registrations
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the world’s most prominent certifying body for organic fabrics. These include cotton, silk, wool, linen, among others. Final products such as clothes, personal hygiene products, etc., may be certified as well.
In 2019, the organization boasted its highest ever growth rate at 35%! As of that year, there were already 7765 GOTS-certified facilities worldwide, covering more than 3 million employees. 
These numbers tell us that people and brands are becoming more interested in an apparel industry that isn’t only eco-friendly but socially conscious as well.
Sustainability As A Consumer Driver
Sustainability is an overarching concept that should ideally drive our consumption habits in all sectors, fashion included. It is the idea that humanity’s consumption practices should reflect longevity and attention to the future—something we desperately need in today’s time.
Fortunately, sustainability is also slowly becoming one of the significant drivers for fashion . Consumers are increasingly interested in circular fashion and clothing pieces that come from sustainable sources.
Our heightened digitalization might also be part of the reason why this is so. With information just a few taps away, it has never been easier to learn more about sustainability and eco-friendliness. Information hubs like Puratium are especially useful in spreading the message about lessening our waste and practicing earth-friendly behaviors.
As we move into a future where things are strained at best, we must put effort into supporting circular economies and ensuring we produce not only for the now but also for the future.
Growing Market for Sustainable and Ethical Fashion
As consumer demand for sustainable fashion increases, it only makes sense that the market is expanding to accommodate this demand.
In 2019, the market for sustainable fashion had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8%. And is set to grow even more in the coming years. 
Although the pandemic has undoubtedly dampened some of this demand, it has also changed the landscape of ethical fashion completely. Because online stores are much preferred these days, customers now have easier access to ethical pieces not available in brick and mortar locations.
Increased Use and Demand For Sustainable Textiles
Polyester has already surpassed cotton as the most used fabric in the world. This paints a picture of a fashion industry heavily reliant on synthetics, with most of our clothing coming from man-made materials.
However, it’s not all bad news! Consumers are also looking for more sustainable options, such as some natural textiles.
And not only that but there is also an increased demand for transparency in the textile manufacturing industry. The effects of large-scale manufacturers observing more transparent measures (both environmentally and socially) then trickle down into a much better textile market.
Of course, we cannot forget about the role government policies and regulations play in making any industry more eco-friendly. The fashion market also needs the assistance of public policies in the same way industries like energy and oil need regulating.
We can see how countries are becoming more involved through policies that encourage sustainability in fashion.
In China, for example, Shanghai has announced moving towards green manufacturing initiatives to promote more eco-friendly manufacturing.
On the other hand, France has announced that they will be making efforts towards making Paris the sustainable capital of fashion, working together with designers and retailers to achieve this goal.
All over the world, sustainability initiatives are being fought for in legislation. As things in business and consumer mindset change, government policies must also reflect the developing needs of our environmental situation.
What You Can Do To Contribute
Buy From Sustainable Brands
From our discussion above, it’s pretty evident that sustainable brands are now on the rise. Where before you would have to sift through hundreds of brands before landing on one that aligns with your ethos, now they are popping up everywhere.
And this isn’t a bad thing!
You, as a conscious consumer, now have more options. You can buy from brands that you know operate under standards you can trust.
And sustainability doesn’t stop at using eco-friendly materials either! An equally important part of participating in sustainable fashion is making sure you support local communities by buying from brands that give living wages and safe working conditions.
Buy Sustainable Fabrics
The most common and cheapest fabrics available on the market today are synthetics. Polyester, nylon, PU, just to name a few. In fact, the fashion industry uses about 98 million tons of non-renewables annually, contributing to its 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year. 
That isn’t even to mention the amount of microplastics shed by all our clothes when we wash or throw them away.
Buying sustainable textiles like organic cotton, lyocell, linen, etc., is one way to contribute to a more eco-friendly fashion industry.
Buy For Life
Buying for life is not a concept that does well in fast fashion. The very nature of trends is to come and go, passing by for a few weeks or months before becoming unfashionable again.
But you don’t have to subscribe to that idea. You can purchase timeless pieces that are versatile and can last you more than just this season or the next.
We hope that, like us, you are also hoping for a future with a fashion industry that is kinder to the planet and more considerate to its people.
While the fashion landscape is slowly changing, there is still plenty of work to do. Tons of clothing is still being disposed of each year, and plenty more are in production.
It’s going to take more than individual consumer action to change things, though. We need systemic changes that tackle the issue directly at its roots for us to have hope of a better apparel industry.