What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is growing - but what exactly is it?
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Over the past few years consumers have demanded more from high-street fashion brands and tried to reduce their fast fashion consumption, opting instead for ethical and sustainable fashion – but what is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly since the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, which saw over 1,000 factory workers in Bangladesh lose their lives, and as the true impact fashion has on the environment came to light.

Many felt they couldn’t carry on consuming fashion as they had been, leading to a 75% increase in people searching for sustainable fashion on Lyst.

Here, we explain what sustainable fashion means.

READ MORE: Why has sustainable fashion left plus size women out for so long?

What is sustainable fashion?

While there is no definition of sustainable fashion, Green Strategy have coined a definition of ‘more sustainable fashion’ below:

‘More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.

Dr. Brismar, Green Strategy

While some argue that sustainable fashion can never exist, the idea of more sustainable fashion refers to clothing, shoes and accessories that have been created in safe and fair working conditions and in a way that is considerate of the environment.

Sustainable Fashion Matterz encourage shoppers to think sustainably by ‘thinking about what you buy, knowing which philosophies you are supporting through your purchases, and also asking yourself if you are really going to wear that new piece to the extent that it was worth being made.’

Why is sustainable fashion important?

Sustainable fashion is one of the most harmful industries to our environment.

Every year, it uses 93 billion cubic meters of water, which is enough for five million people to survive.

The industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, and these will surge by more than 50% by 2030.

Of all the fibers used to manufacture clothing, 87% ends up in landfill, while half a million tons of microfibres are dumped into the ocean. This is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

At this rate, the consumption of fashion will rise from 62 million metric tones in 2019 to 102 million tons in by 2029.

By demanding change, we can literally save the planet.

READ MORE: 6 sustainable fashion brands who make beautiful clothes to order

Which brands are sustainable?

Unfortunately, none of the best known high-street brands are sustainable.

However brands such as House of Sunny, LF Markey, Veja, Lora Gene and Olivia Rose The Label are great alternative options.

How can I shop sustainably?

We recommend buying vintage and second-hand clothing, or shopping from sustainable fashion brands such as those previously mentioned.

This might take some research, but there are plenty of options out there – include some brands that make clothes to order.

We also recommend looking at what you already own and finding new ways to style your clothes. Read our article on how to outfit repeat without anyone noticing here.

Another option is renting clothes if you have a big event coming up that you want to dress up for, or even holding a clothes swap with your friends.

READ MORE: Is Zara ethical and sustainable?

READ MORE: Is ASOS ethical and sustainable?

For fashion advice, tips and chit-chat, join our Facebook group What To Wear Next or follow us on Instagram.

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