Sustainability is a well-known term for everyone for so many years so as sustainable fashion. As the fashion industry is the largest industry in the world having the greatest environmental impact. With the COVID-19 pandemic, industries are trying harder to survive with increasing pressure on performance, shifting consumer behaviors, and accelerating demand for digital. After a year, the fashion industry reported a record-low economic profit, therefore planning for innovative ways to gain momentum again. here we are at the end of 2020, but still, there is no clarification about the end of this pandemic. let’s hope for the best and keep your spirit of a sustainable lifestyle with sustainable fashion up.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion refers to the clothing, shoes, accessories that are manufactured, promoted, and used with sustainable practices in both aspects environmentally as well as socio-economically. This process implies the strategies to improve the whole lifespan of a
Product. The sustainable approach focuses on decreasing the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. As of now, according to researchers, the fashion industry has the largest amount of carbon emission. There are two perspectives of defining sustainable fashion, one is from Brand and the other from customers.
Sustainable fashion can be defined with respect to brands as keeping everything sustainable from production to distribution. All stages of a product’s life cycle, be it manufacturing, production of raw materials, designing, transport, storage, marketing, and even sale, all components are taken into consideration. However, sustainable fashion for customers/users can be defined as using the garment as much as possible. Having less clothes and using them
What are the seven forms of sustainable fashion?
1. On-Demand and custom made
It is the first form of sustainable fashion and could be relatable in today’s scenario during COVID-19. A rapid decline is happening in the fashion industry as people are not opting to go shopping more often.
Most people want comfortable and easy to wear clothes at home. The fashion industry could survive this pandemic time manufacturing clothes on-demand and this approach also supports sustainable fashion too. Producing clothes only on-demand with high quality that could be used for a longer period.
2. Green and Clean
This form explains the production process of the product. Brands should follow the eco-friendly processes to make a fabric. No chemical and artificial colors should be used during the process.
3. High quality and timeless design
According to forms of sustainable fashion, products should be of high quality and better design. It means designs should be like that one can wear anywhere and for a longer period. So, product quality and design should attract people to wear more.
4. Fair and Ethical
For more reasons, ethical fashion and sustainable fashion, both terms are used interchangeably. Ethical fashion focuses on the “morally right” treatment of every person connected directly or indirectly including fair wages of workers, healthy working conditions, worker’s rights, etc.
5. Repair, Redesign, and upcycle
This form refers to the long term use of clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories through good care possibly. Thereafter if damaged, repairing and redesigning and even upcycling could be done to use to an extent. Certainly, upcycling is the term to recycle the product into a more valuable product.
6. Rent, Lease, and Swap
When the product is no longer desired. it should be donated to thrift stores and charity. You can also share with family members, friends, and perhaps a swap-shop, to prolong the product’s active life. When the garment is completely consumed, it should be returned to a collection point for fabric recycling, So that it can be reused in the manufacturing of new clothes or other products.
7. Second-hand and Vintage
Second-hand shopping is one of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint. Every time you buy new clothes means you are not consuming clothes fully. Ideally, instead of buying newly produced clothes, one should consider renting, borrowing, or swapping clothe
Common terms used for sustainable fashion
It’s very hard to say that NO brand can be 100% sustainable. But people generally claim to be some sort of sustainable fashion like ethical, vegan, conscious, organic, zero-waste and slow fashion, etc. It is a minimal but markable difference between those terms. We need to understand this difference before making any claim to be.
Ethical Fashion is a broad and vast term to describe sustainable fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, worker’s rights, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.
Ethical fashion also connected with the minimalism of having as minimum as possible that leads to less consumption. Excessive buying of cheap products on the name keeping varieties leads you to the facts that who is paying on your behalf the rest. Minimalism makes you aware of what you need.
Conscious fashion defined as the opposite of fast fashion as fast fashion emphasizes bringing the new trend and style every week degrading the quality of clothing. After one or two times of wear, you just need to buy a new one throwing the old into the trash. Piling up of landfills with clothes is the main cause of carbon emission that comes from the fashion industry. On the other hand, the goal of conscious fashion is to grow the design philosophy and trend of sustainability and support a decrease in fast fashion.
Just like a Vegan diet, you can also opt for Vegan fashion including clothing, shoes, bags, and other accessories that manufactured without using and harming animals. More specifically, fashion items that do not contain any animal materials and no animal by-products used during the entire production process. Cruelty-free has known commonly for vegan. A lot of brands follow these practices that make them sustainable brands.
Organic clothing is specifically made from organic cotton that has been cultivated according to organic farming guidelines. This type of farming is totally free from genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and other harmful chemical yielding aids. All the practices used in organic farming are organic leaving a positive impact on the environment, agriculture, and the health of cotton planters worldwide.
Organic cultivation saves cultivable and fertile land from drying up and protects it against pesticides that pollute the soil and groundwater. On the other hand, regular cotton consumes a lot of water during production. A variety of pesticides infused in the cultivation of ordinary cotton resulting in pest infestation. In general, more than 8000 chemicals used in the making of an ordinary piece of regular cotton clothing. It marked as a part of the broader Sustainable fashion movement. As all sorts of cotton are prone to pest infestation,
Zero-waste fashion includes those clothing items that produce little or no fabric waste during their production. There are generally several ways to make zero-waste fashion:
- First is, by creating patterns that use 100% of a given textile, and second, creating garments from recuperated materials. But the best way to get better results, both strategies should be to work together to decrease the carbon footprint caused by fast fashion.
- In addition, Pre-consumer Zero-waste that deals with the elimination of fabric waste during manufacturing, and Post-consumer zero-waste fashion regenerates the clothing from secondhand garments eliminating waste at the stage where a clothing life could be ended.
It could be precisely the opposite of fast fashion. It refers to very less manufacturing of new clothing. Slow fashion defines your taste according to your need. Moreover, it makes your purchase less and consume more.
In conclusion, we can say that there is a slight difference between the above-discussed types of sustainable fashions. A lot of fashion brands want to be sustainable to promote their name among customers but the question is how they fulfill the respective criteria to be.
How to support sustainable fashion at the consumer level?
Supporting sustainable fashion at the consumer level means using clothes for their maximum lifespan. Reusing and recycling clothes or even upcycled after fully worn. There are certain ways to achieve sustainability at the consumer level by taking care of cloths to use them longer:
Less washing of cloths
Less washing revives the life of clothes. So, avoid more often washing , wore them twice or thrice before wash
Wash on cold
Saves energy and preserves the coloration of your clothing washing in cold water. Because, hot water washing makes the colors fade more rapidly
Hand Wash rather than machine wash
Try to handwash the delicate clothes or soft fabric to strengthen their quality
Line dry instead of machine dry
Drying under the sun is much more beneficial for clothes in terms of saving fabric and hygiene too. Moreover, sunlight is also good for removing bacterias also
Wear clothes to the extent
Clothing takes up a lot of resources to manufacture like water, energy, fabric, etc. If we use that clothing for a shorter time-period then all resources go to waste. So, try to wear the clothing item more often and use it till it lasts. After that, you can donate it for the recycle.
Top 5 Myths about sustainable fashion
1. Luxury fashion is more sustainable than fast fashion
- Spending money on luxury fashion does not guarantee sustainability. Some big fashion brands like Burberry claimed to having “carbon-neutral” shows, and Gucci also affirmed that its operations are now completely carbon-neutral.
- A report by Ordre, which specializes in online showrooms, reveals how unsustainable fashion weeks really are. Certainly, by measuring the carbon footprint of fashion buyers from 2,697 retail brands and 5,096 ready-to-wear designers attending international fashion weeks over a 12-month period. The reports found that 241,000 tonnes (265,657 US tons) of CO2 (or equivalent greenhouse gases) released that as same as that of a small country.
2. The more expensive the clothing, less the workers are exploited
- A lot of mid-priced and premium labels actually manufactured in the same factories as fast fashion brands. This means that everything from workers’ rights to the conditions in which they work, can be exploitative, regardless of price point. So it is a myth that expensive clothing brands are ethical.
3. Donating old clothes is a sustainable way to clean out your closet
- Is it true that charities and thrift stores do give away or sell a portion of the clothes they receive? Truly speaking most of the clothes in the donation is likely to shipped overseas to resale markets in developing countries. The local markets got negatively impacted. Therefore, Only 10% of clothing in thrift stores actually goes for resale. The US alone ships a billion pounds of used clothing per year to other countries. Africa receives 70% of global secondhand clothes.
4. Brands that promote sustainability are sustainable
- “Sustainability” and other popular words like greenwashing misused to attract consumers eager to reduce their environmental impact on the planet. Moreover, Fashion search engine Lyst reported in 2019 that it saw a 75% increase in sustainable-related search terms compared with the previous year. There is a lack of objective criteria for rating a sustainable brand.
5. It’s not worth it to repair cheap clothes.
- Repairing and reusing a fast fashion product might be spending more than the actual cost of the product. But, keeping rotation the cloth and wearing it more often is the best thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. You can also learn how to carry out small repairs at home to keep costs down, including replacing buttons, fixing broken zippers, resewing loose seams.
- Spencer. “What Exactly Is Sustainable & Ethical Fashion?” Sustainable Jungle, 21 Nov. 2020, URL
- “WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?” Sustainable Fashion Matterz, URL
- “SEVEN FORMS OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION.” Green Strategy Sustainable and Circular Fashion Consulting, URL
- Thakur, Annesha. “7 Forms of Sustainable Fashion You Should Know About.” Northmist, 14 Feb. 2020, URL