Green is the new black. And, no, I’m not talking about the latest summer fashion trend. I’m talking about how ethical and sustainable fashion is slowly becoming a factor in how our generation views the latest styles.
I have always been the person to hold the motto, “quality over quantity,” or at least I try to.
As consumption and demand for the next bigger and better thing directs our society’s way of living, we may find it surprising to learn that this demand has become the second largest contribution to global warming.
With pesticides, chemicals in dyes and cotton, huge amounts of landfill and the constant need for energy, this all leaves behind a huge environmental imprint on the earth.
However, the introduction of organic cotton fibers and sustainable fabrics such as bamboo or hemp has developed a new way we can protect the environment, all while continuing to produce affordable and desirable fashion.
“Fast fashion,” is the term used to refer to low-cost collections that mimic current luxury fashion trends. Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters and so many more are all businesses that can be labeled as such.
With social media continuing to drive new ideas, brands and trends into the eyes of consumers, more people spend money on cheap, easily accessible clothing and thus pollute the environment even further.
According to Fashion United, an independent and international fashion network, the global apparel market is valued at $3 trillion in textile and garment.
Furthermore, a documentary produced in 2015 called “The True Cost,” states that consumers purchase over 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. That’s more than 400 percent of what people were obtaining even two decades ago.
Christina Dean, co-founder and CEO of Redress, an organization which focuses on promoting environmental sustainability in fashion, stated, “I think after any big change … it takes a while to feel and smell the dirt that comes out of something that is polluting.”
The constant need to be current with fashion trends is a phenomena that will never end, and it doesn’t have to. With designers and companies turning toward a more sustainable ideal of producing clothing, consumers can still be fashionable and environmentally friendly.
Sustainable fashion, also called “eco-fashion,” is a part of the growing design philosophy in trending sustainability. Its purpose is to drive a system that creates and supports alternative ways of consumption considering human impact and our social responsibility.
More often than not, people will avoid sustainable fashion because it has either been coined “too expensive” or not easily accessible or not updated to current trends.
So, how does today’s age of fast consumption balance the ever-present need to be up-to-date on the latest fashion trend and still be environmentally aware?
Find the designers and businesses that have realized how to maintain profitable outcomes for themselves and the environment with products that are both affordable and trend-sensitive.
Patagonia, Fair Trade Winds, Eileen Fisher, Everlane, Stella McCartney and even H&M are all contributors to developing and maintaining an ethical approach to fashion. Most of these up-and-coming brands can be found inside the United States and range from moderate to costly prices.
Fast fashion, which is based off of high-cost brands, is not considered sustainable fashion due to its fast-response system and the way it encourages disposability.
These companies thrive off of fast cycles and producing “floor ready” items with rapid prototyping, large varieties, efficient transportation and delivery as well as the ability to continue creating clothes that keep shoppers coming back for more.
Over the past decade, however, sustainable and ethical ideas have begun to matter in the world of fashion.
Not only can the idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” become a motivator for decreasing our world’s waste in clothing, but sustainable fashion can also be the start for consumers to purchase timeless and quality-made items.
By becoming conscious of how our casual shopping sprees can actually be damaging the earth we live on, we can not only take strides in bettering our way of consuming, but also take a large fraction out of our imprint on the environment.
Katie Ward is a junior communication major.