Sustainable fashion 101: the what the how and the why

I feel like I am not the only person trying to be more conscious when it comes to my purchases. Even though I still love Primark and fast fashion, I wanted to understand what sustainability actually means and why we should pay more attention to it.

After seeing huge brands like h&m make sustainable clothing lines, it makes me wonder what is sustainability and is it really necessary? Or are brands just trying to make me feel bad to get deeper in my pockets?

And no this blog post is not claiming that global warming doesn’t exist or that we humans can do whatever we want.  We do have a responsibility, and I felt like it was time for me to educate not only myself but also you guys.

If you want to learn more about this topic feel free to use the resources I have linked at the end of this blog post.

What is sustainable fashion and why is it important?

Sustainable fashion consists of 3 pillars: 1) ecology, 2) social justice, 3) economy.

Ecology

Because fashion moves at such a fast pace, it’s hard for our planet to keep up with every runway show, trust me I can’t keep up either…  So sustainable fashion is exactly what it means, it’s the perfect compromise. To say it simply, you get the pretty clothes and don’t rune the planet. Think of it as getting to eat pizza every day without going to the gym. And I am aware that this sounds a little bit too good to be true.

Because fashion is a very fast moving industry it produces a lot of waists. We all know our plant is overflowing with waste and we are using a lot of natural sources. Using natural resources don’t sound all that bad at first, but we are finishing them.

Social justice

If you are one of those people who doesn’t really care about the environment. You might want to consider other people. A lot of clothes we wear on a daily basis are produced in horrific circumstances. The worst part is, we all know it, I am sure you have seen multiple documentaries about the sweatshops in India, or the footage of factories burning down. Sustainable fashion is not just for the planet it is also for all the people who work in the industry. The goal is to make sure that the jobs on the front lines of fashion shows as well as the back end jobs are inhuman conditions.

Economy

Now don’t go running away just yet. I promise I am going to explain this in the easiest way possible. Basically, I am not planning on confusing myself or you just yet. Wait for it the confusion will come… I am warning you the nerd in me is fulling coming out of the closet right now.

As some of you might now, brands outsource jobs to countries with lower wages. This is why most of your clothes are made in China and not in the countries where the clothes are designed. Because the wages are lower the production costs decrease. Production costs are all the materials, work, infrastructure, transport, etc needed to make the product.

In most western countries employees need to pay their workers more than a certain amount decided by the government. This is what we call minimum wage. Because living in western countries is more expensive this cost is way higher than in the countries where these clothes are produced. In some cases, the government doesn’t have these laws set in place.

Now to put it in simple terms, outsourcing the work is way cheaper compared to transporting the clothes here.

The goal of a company is to make as much profit as they can. So by making clothes cheap and selling them to us for what seems like a very low price, we buy more and they make more profit.

This is something that is not exclusive to the fashion industry, we can say the same about technology, cars, furniture, etc.  But the big problem is that people in the western world are consuming way more than everyone else. The problem with this is that other people keep living in poverty and having less innovation or growth.

Sustainable fashion is supposed to answer all 3 of these criteria, to a certain extent. It is very important to not that truly sustainable fashion does not exist. Just by washing our clothes we are already producing waste.

When is fashion sustainable?

Now, this is the hard part, we do not have an industry standard for sustainable fashion. Any brand can say they are being more sustainable and just put a label on it. We don’t have any laws that tell us when something can be labeled sustainable. The EU has textile laws in place but these laws are outdated (2011).

But many people have been making some great tools for us to see how sustainable our clothes are. The higg index is a great tool to do so.

How should we shop sustainable fashion?

I am focusing on us, the buyer. Rember this is a practical guide, even though I am making it sound like a textbook. But besides that, I want to go over the different things we need to think about when trying to shop sustainable.

So what to do when you want to go shopping?

Obviously, buy slow fashion

So don’t go looking for the trend pieces that you won’t want to wear in a week. And yes this means no more pretty little things. It is sticking to what you have and making it work for a long time. Of course, this means buying things of higher quality that will last you way longer. So now you do have an excuse to buy luxury once in a while.

Swopping

Not buying clothes unless they need replacing. I will be honest with you guys, I don’t think I have ever worn out an item to the point where it is really unwearable, but maybe it is time to start?

Second Hand

Yes, I am including buying pre-loved items on my list. Even though I am not the biggest fan of charity shops, I think buying second-hand clothing can be a very good thing. But, I will be honest, I don’t own any second-hand clothes except the stuff I stole from my grandmother ages ago. But I am looking to get into it more because I think it can be something worth exploring.

Vegan

I will be honest with you, buying vegan items is not really my thing. I have always worn leather. But I can see how it could help the environment. It did seem like a good thing to add to the list for people who don’t really like designer items.

My conclusion

Shopping the conscious line in h&m is not going to cut it. I feel like I need to pay more attention to what I buy and where it comes from. I will be trying to educate myself more about this topic and maybe even bring more blog posts on sustainable brands.

After doing all my research I am not sure if I will go the sustainable fashion route all the way, but I am definitely going to include more of it on my blog.

If you want to read more on sustainable fashion and the EU laws at the moment, feel free to check out these links:

https://fashionista.com/2019/02/sustainable-fashion-brands-end-to-end-retail-economy

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/fashion/textiles-clothing/legislation_en

https://www.sustainablefashionmatterz.com/what-is-sustainable-fashion

What Is Sustainable Fashion And Why Is It Important?

The Higg Index

https://www.vogue.com/article/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-sustainability-parsons-zady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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