Sustainable fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. Most of us are guilty of being addicted to buying cheap clothes that we know will probably fall apart after a few washes. But sustainable processes are much more friendlier to our environment.
It may come as a shock to some, but fashion is actually the second largest form of pollution to the environment, after oil. Fast fashion is all about speed and low costs, to deliver catwalk inspired collections. It is particularly bad for the environment because the reduction of cost and time means more water pollution, increased textile waste and the use of toxic chemicals.
Although vibrant colours and prints may look wonderful, textile dyeing is actually a massive pollutant and is achieved from using toxic chemicals a lot of the time.
As well as this, growing cotton involves the use of herbicides, pesticides and oil powered machines. Not to forget the transportation of goods which uses up lots of oil, just to be eventually thrown away when we are bored of them and tossed into landfill.
Chemicals like azo dyes can cause skin irritation in addition to being not to so nice for the environment.
However, not all hope is lost! There are indeed alternatives.
Today it is gradually becoming more common for brands to make garments from eco-friendly fabrics such as hemp, bamboo, organic cotton and recycled cashmere and denim. Organic cotton is grown without using harsh pesticides and fertilisers, as well as using less water than the normal process. Sustainable brands recycle their materials if possible, and try to influence shoppers to buy less, and repair or recycle their garments more. Many brands have even found being sustainable earns them a much more loyal customer base.
Major high street retailers such as H&M have recently launched a new brand of clothing called Arket which incorporates sustainable processes throughout the product life cycle and promotes product longevity.
Zara have also started installing collection bins in their China stores, so old clothing can be resewn fore reuse.
Yes, it is very tempting to just bin clothes once when become tired and hole-ridden, but it is much better to try mending it yourself or even go to a local clothing repairer.
Another way of being more environmentally friendly is to reduce your consumption, and shopping at second hand stores to avoid buying new stuff in the first place. And not forgetting the obvious, it’s best to avoid those nasty fabrics like nylon, and polyester, (which are actually plastics) and when washed, pollute rivers and oceans.
We found some great sustainable brands below that are definitely worth checking out:
TOMs are renowned for its Oceana supporting work to protect whales and marine species, from unsustainable fishing practices. They also have a Whale collection which is vegan footwear dedicated to preserving grey and humpback whales.
ASOS have launched a jean line made from recycled denim and cotton. They have also partnered with The Recycle Movement (REMO) to do this and share information about where and how the denim has been recycled. The brand also claims that by 2025 they will be committed to 100% sustainable cotton.
Ecoalf produce environmentally friendly menswear and womenswear. The brand combats the excessive wastage by clothing and accessories from decommissioned fishing nets, used tyres and plastic bottles.
Deakin and Blue
Deakin and Blue are a swimwear brand who help to clean up the ocean by regenerating nylon fibre from fishnets and other nylon waste to make their products. They are also collaborating a charity called Love the Oceans who remove 2kg of waste from the sea for every swimsuit purchased.
Patagonia is an outdoor brand who discourage their customers from buying more unnecessary products by offering to restore their old Patagonia products to good as new with the Worn Wear program.
Denim brand Nudie Jeans manufacture all their products with 100% organic cotton as well as recycling and reselling second-hand garments. The brand also uses 91% less water than traditional production processes.
In an ideal world, we would all probably opt for more sustainable brands but sadly they tend to be more on the pricey side, which isn’t ideal for everyone.
Have you ever shopped at any of the brands above?
Let us know your thoughts on fast fashion and how we can work towards a more sustainable future.
Images: Hausie, iFashion Network, the MBS group, Drapers, the Guardian, Oranges and Apples, Trusted Clothes, Toms.com, ASOS.com, Ecoalf, Deakin and Blue, Patagonia, Nudie Jeans.
Text: Chloe Humphries