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Sustainable fashion has been the buzz word for quite a while now, especially since the pandemic of 2020. A lot of brands in fashion had started adopting environment friendly and sustainable ways of production way before COVID, and a lot of them joined the bandwagon over the past few months.
Now, more than ever, people have realised that we’re running short of time, and that changes have to be made right away. Customers, just like brands are becoming increasingly conscious about their choices and are more than ready to contribute in whatever ways possible.
Given the situation, it is indeed the responsibility of both the brands and the consumers to put an end to the business of fast fashion and adopt more sustainable solutions. In that sense, sustainability is something that needs to be practiced on the business end as well as the consumer’s end, because production and consumption go hand in hand, just like demand and supply.
Everybody is talking about being more sustainable and eco-friendly. Some people say not to purchase too many things, some people say not to purchase trending fashion. As for brands, some of them use natural raw materials, while some others use environment friendly packaging.
The question is which of these actually contribute to sustainable fashion and which of these are myths?
According to the Green Strategy, there are 7 real forms of sustainable fashion involving practices from both sides of the retail cycle.
Let’s see what they are.
One of the best ways to ensure zero wastage and less usage of resources is on-demand fashion. This includes everything made to order, tailor-made and customized to the taste of the consumer. It does not follow trends and fads and it does not lead to mass production of same styles. That way it also makes sure that each piece is unique and that no other person has it. DIY fashion also comes under the purview of customization.
Going green and clean involves using environmental friendly and sustainable raw materials in production, using natural dyes and methods, using organically produced processing agents, using eco-friendly packaging etc. It basically involves using the best most environment friendly practices and products throughout the life cycle of a product. It is an important form of sustainable fashion that a lot of brands are making the effort to adopt.
Following fast changing trends is one of the most important causes of consumerism. A lot of styles come in and go out in a matter of months, which leads to mass production of popular styles in short periods of time, and also the abandonment of the same styles, causing wastage and pollution. This is why producing as well as consuming timeless and evergreen styles in high quality is a good way to practice sustainability. It creates styles that never go out of fashion and can be worn year round. Its high quality ensures that it stays durable for seasons to come as well.
One of the worst practices in fast fashion is the reckless usage of resources and the exploitation of human and animal rights. For the same reason sustainable fashion involves the protection and preservation of these things. It includes fair wages, traditional and fair employment, safe and proper working conditions for employees. It also involves uplifting and supporting talented artisans, protection of animal rights, non-usage of animal based resources and the like.
Repairing and upcyling of old and used fashion are effective ways to reduce wastage. It involves repurposing old pieces of clothing, creating new styles out of old ones, repairing minor defects and wear and tear, re-using old styles in new ways etc. Any way to re-use old outfits is happily encouraged these days so as to reduce the amount of fabrics ending up in landfills. It is a practice that needs to be adopted by customers.
Renting, leasing and swapping of clothes are all ways to reduce the amount of new clothes being produced and purchased in the market. It aims to reduce production as well as consumption. Renting and leasing allow customers to enjoy outfits without having to buy them and eventually throw them out. Swapping of clothes among family and friends allows customers to refresh their wardrobes without purchasing new pieces.
Second hand fashion involves purchasing pieces that are used by others. This ensures that no new resources are being utilised in the purchase. Vintage fashion on the other hand promotes evergreen designs carried forward by people – clothes with a history. Both of these methods heavily discourage the production of new clothes.
All of these are considered as good ways of practicing sustainability and ought to be adopted by the future generations.