What is sustainable fashion & why should you care?

Today’s fashion system works predominantly in linear way where large amounts of non-renewable resources are transformed into clothes or accessories with very short life cycle, after which they are usually sent to landfield and destroyed. The concept of sustainable fashion strives to connect fashion production and its use with awareness and responsibility resulting in prolonging the cycle and decreasing its environmental and social impact.
As fashion industry by definition relies on the trends and cosumption, the Green Strategy proposed the term “more sustainable fashion” defined as below:
“More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.”
According to the Centre for Sustainable Fashion there are four diverse agendas/perspectives that need to be taken into account when talking about fashion and sustainability:

The social agenda

The social agenda derives from the context that all humans are born with equal rights and fundamental freedoms. Human skills are essential in fashion industry, yet recognition and reward for the contributions often perpetuates staggering social inequality, cases of negligence, violence and oppression. Social agenda therefore draws attention to issues like modern day slavery, working conditions and wellbeing.

The economic agenda

The economic agenda problematizes the pursuit of financial growth without accounting for environmental and social costs. Its aim is to find new business models that will enable sustainable prosperity while responding to the environmental and social impacts of fashion.

The ecological agenda

The ecological agenda explores how we can honour nature and minimize any undesirable effect of the products on the environment by ensuring efficient and careful use of natural resources, selecting renewable energy sources, and maximizing repair, reuse, and recycling of the product and its components.

The cultural agenda

The cultural agenda observes fashion’s contribution to culture. Fashion industry shapes and is shaped through aspirations presented in popular culture, advertising and user generated social media content. Considerations of this agenda include fashion’s role in the society, changing habits and practices, myths and storytelling.
As you can read in our article How to become more conscious fashion consumer, there are many ways each of us can contribute to more sustainable future of the fashion industry. Some of us prefer high quality design made-to-order, others enjoy finding vintage items or redesigning the items we already have – everything counts! To clarify sustainable practices the Green Strategy has identified seven main forms of more sustainable fashion production and consumption, as seen in this figure.
As described by the author Anna Brismar, every new product considered as sustainable should incorporate into the life cycle all presented aspects. “Each garment should first be manufactured on demand or custom-made (No. 1), in high quality and timeless design (No. 2), in an environmentally friendly manner (No. 3) and with consideration to various ethical aspects (No. 4). Thereafter, it should be used long and well through good care, repair and perhaps redesign (No. 5). When the product is no longer desired, it should be handed in to a secondhand shop, donated to charity or handed over to friends, relatives or perhaps a swap-shop, to prolong its active life (No. 6 and 7). When the garment is completely worn out, it should be returned to a collection point for recycling of the textile material, which can hence be reused in the manufacturing of new clothes or other textile products.”

Created by Dr. Anna Brismar, Green Strategy (Copyright, Green Strategy).

 

Fashion brand can be considered sustainable when its products are:
– designed timeless rather than trendy,
– produced in smaller collections,
– made of high-quality materials that can last years or even a lifetime,
– made in environmentally friendly manner of natural fibers that are plant-based, renewable and have a potential for circularity,
– produced and sold in friendly working environment considering equal rights of everyone involved into the supply chain.
To expand your knowledge please head to:
Centre for Sustainable Fashion: https://sustainable-fashion.com/
Green Strategy: https://www.greenstrategy.se/
Fashion Revolution: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
Ellen MacArthur Foundation: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/
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