What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years?

Author Lia Andrienko
Category Columnists, Culture, Education, Lifestyle, Town
Date October 21 2023
Reading Time 6 min.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years?

Currently, the world produces 400% more clothing than, for example, in the year 2000, and only 20% of these factory-made items are worn by us. The remaining 80% of the products are left unpurchased by consumers or returned to online stores, after which these items end up in landfills where they are incinerated, polluting the atmosphere with harmful substances.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Shutterstock

Between 20% and 35% of all primary sources of microplastics in the World Ocean are elements from synthetic clothing that doesn’t biodegrade for years, contaminating animal organisms and poisoning the water. The fashion industry ranks second in terms of polluting freshwater, right after the oil refining industry. When you buy a new cotton t-shirt, you should know that its production consumes 2,700 liters of water. With that amount of water, one person could sustain themselves for a whole 2.5 years.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Sam Loin

In Central Asia, the extensive cultivation of cotton for export has led to an ecological catastrophe, resulting in the drying up of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. In India and Africa, there is a scarcity of clean water for daily human needs. Few realize that 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide come from the production of clothing and textiles, surpassing the emissions from the aviation industry. Meanwhile, without pause, we continue to update our wardrobes under the influence of fast fashion, without considering the pollution of the planet.

Scientists have been warning about impending environmental catastrophes for a long time. In the pursuit of super profits, companies cannot halt overproduction. If this process does not slow down, by 2025, the fashion and textile industry will account for 25% of the entire carbon “budget.”

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Stella McCartney. Wikipedia

One of the pioneers in promoting eco-friendly fashion was Stella McCartney. In June 2017, Stella McCartney announced that she would collaborate with the company dedicated to recycling plastic bottles, Parley Ocean Plastic, to produce clothing and footwear made from oceanic waste. In July, she launched an advertising campaign for her new collection, which was shot on a landfill. This unconventional decision was intended to convey the brand’s philosophy: “We must think about what we leave for future generations and strive to make our consumption responsible and eco-friendly.”

Under the influence of irreversible environmental changes already underway on the planet, humanity is forced to adapt quickly. Time has been lost, and now each individual must try to delay a global environmental catastrophe through their actions, while companies are obliged to develop philanthropic programs in the field of sustainable development.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Stella BevHills Shop. Wikipedia

The concept of sustainable fashion is precisely about this.

What does Sustainable Fashion mean?

Sustainable Fashion – The essence of this trend lies in the spread of a skeptical attitude towards information, traditional consumption patterns, and a special focus on social and environmental issues that threaten society. It represents a responsible approach towards nature and natural resources on the planet, as well as towards the people involved in the production of clothing.

Research indicates that young people, particularly from Generation Y and Z, are most aligned with this trend. They seek services from companies whose values resonate with their own and are unwilling to buy from companies whose values contradict their beliefs.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Unsplash

Currently, nearly all well-known brands have reoriented themselves toward the target audience of Generation Y and Z, and consequently, they have actively embraced the concept of sustainable fashion, incorporating technologies that do not harm the planet.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Unsplash
Principles of Sustainable Fashion:
  • Environmental Responsibility: People should be well-informed about the catastrophic impact of clothing production on the environment.
  • Ethical Practices: Brands must uphold the rights of the people working in production. Regrettably, scandals occasionally reveal that minors and children are employed in some factories.
  • Sustainability: People should actively engage in the fight to preserve the environment and resist excessive consumption of energy and natural resources.
  • A consumer who leaves a store with a new item should understand the item’s ecological impact and safety. In the modern world, brands should provide information on labels:
  • The ecological footprint of the product.
    Ethical production practices.
    Sustainable and eco-friendly materials used.
    Environmental and social impact.
    This transparency empowers consumers to make informed choices and promotes sustainability in the fashion industry.
  • A shopper who leaves a store with a purchased item should have an understanding of how environmentally friendly and safe that item is. Just as we care about what we consume, we should also be concerned about what we wear. In the modern world, brands should provide information on their labels, including:
  • Environmental Impact: Details about the item’s environmental footprint and sustainability, such as whether it was made from sustainable materials, its carbon emissions during production, and its biodegradability.
  • Ethical Production: Information regarding the ethical aspects of production, including whether the workers were paid fair wages, whether the production process adheres to ethical labor standards, and whether child labor or unsafe conditions were involved.
  • Materials Used: Clear information about the materials used in the item, with an emphasis on sustainable, eco-friendly materials.
  • Social and Environmental Certification: Indications of certifications, if any, that highlight the item’s adherence to environmental and social standards, such as Fair Trade, organic, or cruelty-free certifications.
  • Recycling Instructions: Guidance on how to recycle or dispose of the item responsibly when it reaches the end of its life cycle.

By providing this information, brands empower consumers to make more informed choices and contribute to the promotion of sustainability in the fashion industry.

Today’s trend is all about sustainable fashion, including the secondary recycling of clothing that has been used by individuals and the creation of clothing from organic materials that can naturally decompose and serve as nourishment for microorganisms and plants. Eco-friendly fashion emphasizes that brands need to utilize modern technological processes and equipment to do everything possible to ensure that the production, use, and disposal of clothing occur without harming the environment.

Instead of frequently and inexpensively updating one’s wardrobe, consumers are encouraged to choose high-quality clothing, use it for as long as possible, and not discard it after its service life has expired. Some brands have implemented programs to replace old, worn-out items with new ones.

Ethical fashion promotes equal opportunities for people of different races and nationalities, supports socially vulnerable groups, and ensures fair wages. Millions of women in various countries work in dreadful conditions, putting in 16-hour days for just 10 cents an hour, but consumers often overlook these issues when trying on fashionable attire.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.

The principle of sustainability means that consumers should know:

How long an item of clothing can be worn.
The ways in which the clothing can be disposed of, whether it can be recycled or used again.
How long the discarded clothing will take to decompose in a landfill. For example, textiles can take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to decompose, polluting the air, soil, and groundwater in the process.
Imagine that a synthetic dress, worn only a couple of times, can still harm the planet even 200 years later when its original owner is long gone.

Today, the fashion world has already begun a revolution, albeit somewhat belatedly. There’s increasing talk of alternative materials and eco-friendly technologies for making clothing. Designers and factories are using palm leaf and tree bark bags, jackets made from apple or orange peels, sneakers from ocean plastic, and synthetic leather alternatives derived from mushroom mycelium or fish skin.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t stop producing eco-fabrics like cotton, viscose, staple, modal, and microfiber, but we can strive to minimize the use of natural resources and reduce harm to the environment in their production. For instance, organic solvents can be used for cellulose fiber dissolution, emissions of gases that enter the atmosphere can be collected, purified, and processed, and toxic dyes can be avoided in fabric printing.

What is Sustainable Fashion, and why is it one of the key trends for the coming years? | London Cult.
Unsplash
Sustainable fashion is not just about fashion; it’s about a way of life. To help the planet and future generations survive, it’s enough to regularly do what’s within your power:

Buy clothing from environmentally conscious brands.
Buy fewer synthetic items and opt for plain-colored pieces that require fewer chemicals in production.
Strive to buy high-quality, basic items that are less influenced by fashion trends. Buy fewer items but wear them longer.
Try not to discard clothing; instead, donate, sell, or recycle it.
Avoid emotional shopping. If you buy an item, commit to wearing it. If you don’t want to wear it, give it to someone who will. Clothing swaps are also a valuable way to exchange unwanted items.

Trends in eco-fashion intersect with the concept of sustainability:

Slow Fashion: The idea of slow fashion encourages people to avoid the constant seasonal wardrobe updates, advocating for buying less and choosing timeless pieces. Slow fashion is part of the broader Slow Food and Slow Living movements, emphasizing that happiness doesn’t require excessive consumption.

Eco Fashion: This movement supports eco-conscious clothing and accessories made from natural materials, often with craftsmanship from small workshops. Old garments can be repurposed and given new life.

Ethical Fashion: This concept addresses questions of living wages and working conditions for women working in factories, as well as ethical treatment of animals. Sustainable fashion allows consumers to trace the life cycle of each item.

The goal we should aim for, which drives the idea of sustainability in fashion, is a world where humanity transitions to a closed-loop economy, prioritizing ecological solutions and ceasing the destruction of nature with toxic waste. As consumers, we must make conscious choices and remember that the right attitude toward shopping and clothing is our contribution to caring for the planet and its future. Progressive individuals are now more concerned about sustainable fashion than fleeting trends, and influencers, when taking selfies, should not forget to occasionally use the hashtag #30wears to remind their followers not to buy unnecessary pairs of jeans.

Read more