What is Sustainable Fashion?
In our increasingly eco-conscious world, sustainability is becoming the hottest topic in fashion. The ideal goal of a sustainable fashion industry is to protect the environment as well as the livelihoods of the workers who make our clothes. Sustainable fashion is a complex topic with many problems and solutions. Here are a few examples of eco-friendly consumption, the COMMunity way.
Image courtesy of Lucy and Yak.
Problem: Water Pollution and Wastage
From toxic dyes in the Buriganga river, to the Aral Sea basin “drying up” for cotton production, fast fashion pollutes water sources all over the world. Whenever we wash clothes made from synthetics or non-organic natural fibres, we wash micro plastics and pesticides into our local waterways.
Solution: Organic Fibres
Organically grown, low-water fibres like hemp and linen are considered the most sustainable fibres on the market, however they don’t have the same versatility as organic cotton. Organic cotton often requires less water to produce and doesn’t release harmful chemicals when washed. Whether you’re looking for basics or statement pieces, Lucy & Yak is one brand that offers tons of affordable organic cotton options! And for those looking for an eco-friendly Japanese street style, why not give Mori Girl a go?
Image courtesy of bavard_cadeau.
Problem: Textile Waste
Globally, 92 million tons of unwanted clothing are sent to landfill every year. Only a fraction of the clothing donated to charity shops are resold domestically. The remainder are either discarded or shipped off to countries like Uganda and Rwanda where they’re sold at super low prices that threaten local economies and textile industries. And let’s not forget about fabric scraps—almost all clothing manufacturers end up disposing of off-cuts instead of finding alternative uses for them.
Solution: Upcycled Textiles
One of the most visually striking trends in sustainability is the patchy, upcycled aesthetic. Zero Waste Daniel is one of the most well-known examples. The brand sources fabric scraps from clothing manufacturers around New York to create the distinctive looks that have come to epitomise the brand’s style. For a similar brand with more of a Harajuku flair, CLEAN the Label is a Perth-based Depop store with colourful designs inspired by Decora and vintage remake fashion. Strawberry Skies also makes beautiful clothing from upcycled kimono. Incorporating fabric scraps into the production process prevents textile waste and reduces the demand for virgin fabrics.
Image courtesy of Banny.
The fast fashion business model operates as if the world has infinite resources, but we all know that isn’t true. The industry pushes new trends onto the shop floor every week to encourage consumerism—but the rapid rate of production results in an epidemic of poor-quality clothing. The resulting excess stock precipitates the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere when incinerated.
Solution: Second-hand Shopping
We already have more than enough clothing to outfit the entire population of Earth with a full wardrobe! That is why, to reduce the demand for new clothing, we should embrace second-hand shopping. If you’re not a fan of sifting through racks of lacklustre options for hidden gems, you can find a more curated selection at vintage stores—both online and on the street. Head over to Banny in Harajuku for curated vintage streetwear!
If you’re looking for sustainable additions to your wardrobe, organic fibres, upcycled textiles, and second-hand items are some key targets to focus on. Your preferences will change depending on your personal values and style, but remember to go with whatever feels right for you!
Written by Cora.
Featured image courtesy of Oksana Malenkova via Twenty20.