Let’s start by addressing what is meant by fashion sustainability. The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to global pollution. There are some terrible working conditions associated within the fashion industry. There is an increasing awareness, through media and the internet, of what we wear. Does this convey who we are? Do we really care about our garments? Does size matter or is it what you do with it that counts? The cut? The feel? The material? Where it was made? Made by whom? The colour? The shade? How it makes you feel? If we ask these questions in 5 and 10 years’ time I think we will get significantly different answers to that of now. Due to future trends this is why Fashion Sustainability is of increasing importance.
Many critics blame fast fashion for the industry not giving enough importance to sustainability. However, is fast fashion to blame or the mindset of the consumer? I would argue it’s the mindset of the consumer, since with any business, it adapts to consumer behaviour and demand.
Therefore, fashion sustainability carries a direct correlation to consumer behaviour. In 5 and 10 years’ time, the consciences of the consumer would have changes dramatically forcing businesses to also change.
What is clearly evident upon writing and trying to explain what fashion sustainability is, there are more questions, more problems, more complexities and more misunderstandings. A cohesive and clearer path needs to be laid.
Fashion sustainability is like Pandora’s Box (perhaps this is an unfair analogy as it’s not a case of unleashing evil just chaos within an industry). With being active in the fashion business for decades, we have all been aware of its existence, yet no one has been wanting to open the box. As previously mentioned with the internet and modern forms of communication, there is an increasing awareness and consciousness of this mythical existence.
They say ignorance is bliss, we all go shopping, and we still look at a garment and think “ooooohhhhhh that looks so hot” “wow, look at that colour” “how amazing would I look in that.” I don't see in 5 or 10 years’ time anyone saying “wow, look at the natural colour with no dye” or “ooooohhhhhh those natural fibers feel so good”. You could argue nudism is the answer to being the most eco-friendly, perhaps for those who are a little more modest they could use leaves covering certain parts. That’s sustainable and natural season colours! Having said that this is about sustaining an industry not obliterating it.
The diverse myriad of ‘evils’ that has been exposed and let loose in to the world is too big to fathom. I am vehemently adamant about sustainability not detracting from ethical work place conditions. It would be simply abhorrent for a fashion company to win a sustainability award employing child labour. Equally, a fashion company who doesn't use sustainable fabrics but pays above the minimum wage, and operates like a family to be slandered due to their lack of sustainable practices. Why can’t both be achieved? They can, and both these parts are included within fashionbytes sustainability model. The downside to this - there will be massive price inflation within fashion, our money will not go as far, but we may find ourselves having a guilt free shopping conscience going forward.
fashionbytes consultancy has created its own sustainability model that attempts to make sense of it all. Taking this gargantuan topic and breaking it down into two distinct groups and then formulating sub-sectors into ‘byte’ size segments. We advise and consult fully on this with our clients. Within the fashionbytes sustainability model it states, “brands that will succeed will adapt to the ever growing importance of the millennial market of which is becoming more informed”.
Fashion Sustaining & Sustaining Fashion.
Fashion can only be sustained if there are designers and manufacturers, otherwise there would be no fashion. Physical.
Sustaining fashion relies on the sales side and consumers buying power, without this there would be no fashion. Psychological.
The carbon footprint is so vast and where does the responsibility start and finish for a fashion brand?
Perhaps the easiest way to look at this is the supermarkets and food. Generally consumers would be happy to buy whatever from the supermarket, until the media makes us more informed about fertilisers, pesticides, growth hormones, genetic modifications etc. Sales within the organic food market in the US is now over $43 billion and the UK is over £2 billion. When consumers realise that within the fashion industry the garments they might be wearing resulted in the pollution of a river, killing species and livelihoods perhaps they will be in a better position to decide which brand to buy in the future and they won’t be saying “ooooohhhhhh that looks so hot” “wow, look at that colour” or “how amazing would I look in that.”
Ultimately sustainability has to do with one thing and one thing only. Consumer consciousness. Consumers think they make an informed decision when buying. However, the majority of times they don’t.