Words Matter: Sustainable Fashion
By Lily Amirzadeh
As concerns for the environment are growing, many consumers are turning towards sustainable fashion in an attempt to fight climate change. Regardless of whether or not you have heard about sustainability, the increasing focus on climate preservation has begun reforming the fashion industry. Fortunately, plenty of clothing brands are making strides to protect the world we live in.
Sustainable fashion is essentially clothing that is made with a genuine regard for the wellbeing of our planet. However, no singular definition can encapsulate everything that the sustainable fashion movement stands for. Many other definitions add parts that are not strictly tied to environmental causes, such as the belief that clothes should be made ethically with respect to animal and human rights. Since there is not a comprehensive definition of sustainable fashion, it is different for everyone and every clothing brand. Because of this, every company that brands itself as “sustainable” does something different to help the environment. For example, RE/DONE is known for using recycled materials to create their products while also implementing water-conserving methods. Meanwhile, Eileen Fisher has a different take on sustainability, so they use responsibly sourced, fair trade materials.
To understand what sustainable fashion is, you must also recognize its antithesis: fast fashion. Fast fashion is a phenomenon where clothes are essentially made just to be thrown away. Like sustainable fashion, it has multiple definitions, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is. The best way to describe fast fashion is the promotion of cheap, trendy clothes that go out of style quickly. The clothes are often bad quality because of their inexpensive prices. Their trendy nature results in them going out of style quite quickly. And since they are made so quickly in response to upcoming trends, there is no time to do any quality control on the product, so they rupture quickly. Clothing with all of these qualities will be thrown away immediately once new trends arrive, adding to the massive amount of waste that the fashion industry creates. This is starkly different from sustainable fashion, where clothes are typically designed to endure the test of time. In other words, fast fashion is the cheaper and more affordable substitute to sustainability. Yet unfortunately, fast fashion is quickly taking its toll on the environment, with the fashion industry projected to account for a quarter of the global annual carbon budget by 2050. Much of this is due to fast fashion’s disregard for the planet.
There are many ways to switch to and get involved in sustainable fashion. Research your favorite brands and see if they are doing anything for the environment; you can usually tell if a brand is considered “fast fashion” based on their catalog. If there are thousands of inexpensive items, or items being released constantly, the brand is possibly taking part in fast fashion. Also, try to avoid buying trendy clothing unless you genuinely love them, because you probably won’t be wearing those clothes this time next year. Instead, try to gravitate towards timeless, good quality pieces that will last. But if you like to try out trends, rental services are a great option! They allow you to get new clothes all the time without hurting the planet as much. Lastly, if you're on a budget and the sustainable alternative seems rather expensive, thrift stores have a lot of good quality clothes, and it’s great for the planet. By utilizing these techniques to resist climate change and defy the fast fashion industry, anyone can make a tremendous impact.
“About Us.” RE/DONE, shopredone.com/pages/about-us.
“Behind The Label: EILEEN FISHER.” Behind The Label | EILEEN FISHER, EILEEN FISHER, www.eileenfisher.com/behind-the-label-overview.
Laville, Sandra. “Stella McCartney Calls for Overhaul of 'Incredibly Wasteful' Fashion Industry.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Nov. 2017, www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/28/stella-mccartney-calls-for-overhaul-of-incredibly-wasteful-fashion-industry.
“SEVEN FORMS OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION.” Green Strategy, 2019, www.greenstrategy.se/sustainable-fashion/seven-forms-of-sustainable-fashion/.
Stanton, Audrey. “What Is Fast Fashion, Anyway?” The Good Trade, The Good Trade, 8 Oct. 2018, www.thegoodtrade.com/features/what-is-fast-fashion.