Sunday, March 3, 2024

What Does Sustainable Fashion Actually Mean?

Sustainable Fashion Explained

If you are anything like us, you want to make the world a better place. We recycle, sign petitions, try to use less plastic and scrutinise things at the supermarket looking for the best product. But we can often overlook our wardrobes. The clothing hanging there can actually have a large environmental footprint hidden from view. Processes that use vast amounts of water, electricity, human labour and land all combine to produce your trusty denim jeans. All this causes damage to the environment and ultimately the planet. So we need to think about sustainability and sustainable fashion choices.

So what does sustainable fashion actually mean?

Sustainable fashion advocates for our clothing to be made in a way that leaves a smaller environmental footprint, as well as care for those who grow and make our garments and how they are disposed.

Fashion’s Impact on Our Planet

Two women in dresses made from tea towels
On trend sustainable fashion – dresses made from tea towels: House of Taylor Collective.

Sadly our addiction to fast fashion is leaving a heavy footprint on our Mother Earth. Chemical dyes leak into drinking water, unsold clothing is dumped in places far from us and oil is pulled from the ground to create polyester, one of the most commonly used textiles in fast fashion. Sustainable fashion tackles these issues. Factories can recycle water and prevent chemical leakage, use cutting techniques to prevent wastage and use organic and natural fibres to avoid polyester. While its a complex problem that cannot be solved overnight, sustainable fashion helps us to leave a lighter footprint.

A Living Wage

Laboni, garment maker who was killed at work by unsafe conditions.
Laboni, killed in the Rana Plaza disaster where over a thousand garment workers died when the building they were working in collapsed. Source: @fash_rev_australia

Despite the vast amount of machinery now used in manufacturing, many of your favourite garments are still made by human hands. But since the rise of ultra fast fashion, garment workers are working faster than ever for less pay and in unsafe working conditions. In some factories, child labour is involved in the production of your clothing. Sustainable fashion advocates aim to stamp out these issues. Factories are being urged to increase wages, create safer spaces and abolish child labour. Organisations like Fashion Revolution are also placing pressure on governments around the world to change legislation to create respect for garment workers in their jobs.

Slow Fashion Versus Fast Fashion

Woman wearing recycled denim
Recycled denim via @deadly_denim_ combining with First Nations artwork.

Fast fashion is all about getting that new style to your door in lighting speed. Instead of just copying the latest micro trend, sustainable fashion creates considered garments that are made from high quality materials that will last much much longer than the cheap textiles used in fast fashion. Slow fashion encourages conscious consumption, buying less, choosing quality over quantity and caring for the clothing we own so it will last much longer. It challenges the linear model of fast fashion with a focus on circular systems that will keep garments out of landfill. It’s about buying second hand, renting, swapping, repurposing, reselling and upcycling can all contribute to a slower, more sustainable fashion industry.

For the fashion industry to become a fairer place for planet and people, consumers need to support those who are shifting away from disposable and exploitative systems. Showing others that we support these positive changes will create an even greater demand for more businesses to follow a more sustainable path.

Featured Image by : @maggiemarilyn

About the Author:

Jenna flood

Jenna Flood, known as the Ironic Minimalist
is a slow fashion stylist based in Melbourne,
with a Master’s Certificate in Styling from the
Australian Style Institute and is a specialist in
sustainable dressing and living.

See more at: 6 Sustainable Australian Clothing Brands Leading the Way

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