The fashion industry is one of the worlds biggest polluters. The industry produces 10% of all carbon emissions, pollutes the oceans with micro-plastics and has a massive waste problem, due to the rise of fast-fashion and overconsumption. According to Maria McClay, the Head of Luxury Fashion at Google, there has been a rise in the number of consumers looking for sustainable fashion with two times the amount of consumers searching for sustainable fashion this year, compared to last year.
An instance which raised awareness of fashion’s sustainability problem was in 2013, with the press coverage of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. It exposed the poor working conditions of garment workers for large fashion retailers such as Benetton, Mango and Primark. Before the disaster, consumers thought little of where their clothes came from and trusted the brands they bought from. Sustainability within the supply chain is still a big issue, particularly for fast fashion retailers, who are under pressure from consumers to produce the latest trends at a quicker pace, with turnaround times as little as 14 days. Now that consumers are more aware and knowledgeable about the un-ethical practices carried out by retailers, they have begun to question business supply chains overall.
Brands have had to adapt to show consumers that they are sustainable and meet the demands of the newly emerged ‘green consumer’, who wants to shop ethically. Now retailers offer sustainable collections, have become involved with local suppliers and have worked with charities to show they are dedicated to making the industry more sustainable. Fast fashion retailers are even incorporating sustainability into their practices, with brands such as Zara aiming to have 100% of their cotton, linen and polyester to be sustainable by 2025.
There are also a number of fashion brands that are completely sustainable throughout their whole business model. These include luxury brands such as Mother of Pearl, Phoebe English and Bethany Williams which are making waves in the fashion industry through their sustainable innovations. For example, Bethany Williams works with food banks and women’s rehab centres to create designs with a social conscience.
This series will look at the various different aspects of sustainability such as the working conditions of garment workers, fabrics and the value of reusing/repurposing clothes. I will also do some features on brands that are sustainable, as I’ve had a number of people tell me they want to shop sustainably but don’t know where to start.
If there is anything specific you want to see in the Sustainability Series, please let me know in the comments!
*Disclaimer- Photos are not my own and are sourced from Pinterest and Google Images