The Future of Sustainable Fashion
Sustainability is the future. Fashion bloggers like Michelle Chavez and Kathleen Elie prove this with their massive online followings, and more high street brands are pivoting towards sustainability and fair trade goods.
This is good to see, as fashion currently accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and 20% of global wastewater. This has already impacted communities around the world that have had their local ecosystems destroyed by toxic chemical dyes or large, fossil-fuel-burning factories.
Simply put, fashion needs to enter an era of sustainability. But, what will the future of sustainable fashion look like?
High Street Brands
There’s always been a counter-culture demand for sustainable fashion brands and clothing. But, until recently, that demand hasn’t made its way into high street stores. In the past five years, big brands like H+M, GAP, and ASOS are practically falling over themselves to provide sustainable lines for eco-conscious buyers.
That’s because nearly 90% of UK and US consumers want brands to be more environmentally friendly and ethical. A consumer trend this strong can’t be ignored by businesses, who are now playing catch-up to provide fashion that has a reduced environmental impact.
H+M provides a good example of a high street brand that is attempting to position itself as sustainable. They’ve recently released a few lines of sustainable clothing. This clothing has either been sourced from recycled goods or is “designed to be treasured, shared, repaired and recycled.” Of course, their business plan still revolves around fast fashion, but their sustainability efforts may give us hope for the near future.
One of the best trends to come out of sustainability is “slow fashion”. Slow fashion refers to a method of production that, as you can imagine, takes time. So no more express deliveries, underpaid workers, excessive waste or ballooning carbons costs — slow fashion demands a new method of working that is better for employees and the environment.
In general, slow fashion is a little more expensive than what we’re used to. But, the materials used should mean that the clothing will last longer and be of better quality. This means you’ll be spending less on clothing overall, and will be able to repair damaged goods that won’t be worn through within a year.
You can start incorporating slow fashion into your wardrobe by doing your research and finding brands that you trust. When you find a brand, look into the materials they use, and try to dig a little beyond the information they provide on their site. When you’re ready, consider starting with staple “timeless” pieces like button-up shirts and trousers that are sure to be in fashion in a few years.
Homemade fashion is a kind of offshoot of slow fashion. Thousands of creative and talented people have taken to sites like Etsy to sell their goods, and it’s now fairly easy to find a style or fashion item that suits you.
Homemade fashion is more eco-friendly because small traders don’t have massive carbon overheads — they don’t run factories and don’t demand massive amounts of power to run their day-to-day operations. However, you might still want to target folks who engage in sustainable practices, as sending clothes in new packaging via Amazon will still incur a carbon cost that could have been offset in part.
There are plenty of fashion trends being promoted on Etsy and social media right now. The real joy of homemade fashion is that you can seek out a designer that connects with your sense of style. This might be an embroiderer who loves the same TV show as you or a seamstress who knows how to cut clothes that fit your figure perfectly.
The fashion industry has always relied upon raw materials like synthetic fibers, dyes, and cotton. Producing these materials takes a lot of human labor, and is usually a carbon-intensive process. However, recycled fashion seeks to change this by closing the loop of production, retail, and waste.
The easiest way to get involved in recycled fashion is to donate your unwanted or worn-out clothes to a local clothing donation bank. Clothes that are in better condition will do well in thrift stores and second-hand clothing shops but torn or worn-out clothes can still be sent to local textile and fabric recycling spots.
You can also take up your sewing machine and start upcycling your own clothes. It may take some time to get proficient at upcycling clothes from your own wardrobe, so start with things that are of little value and haven’t been worn in some time. You can also make things easier by following online guides that will show you how to get started.
Fashion is becoming more eco-friendly. Big brands are constantly releasing new lines of upcycled or sustainably sourced clothing, and small independent makers are gaining popularity thanks to social media and sites like Etsy. We can all do our bit to help the fashion industry become more sustainable by recycling more often and using our own old clothes to create unique, interesting styles.