SUSTAINABLE FASHION

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Toxic dyes. Pesticide runoff. Landfills full of clothes – that never (ever) biodegrade. For an industry obsessed with change, it’s ironic that fashion has been stuck in archaic, unsustainable means of production, consumption and disposal. Luckily (Finally!), the tides are beginning to turn, and more then any other time in history the future of fashion is coming into focus. [Egan, 2014]

From tragic industry related catastrophes to ice-queen editors, it’s easy to group all of fashion into the evil column. Yet with its massive consumption and influence, fashion has a strongly cemented place in our evolution as global citizens and as ambassadors to a sustainable and just future for generations to come. [Black, 2014] Odds are that if you are reading this blog, you too are wondering where doing good and looking good collide. I hope it will guide your awareness and your actions, because small steps add up to big shifts. ­­

Perhaps it was the Toxic Fashion campaign led by Greenpeace or the plethora factory tragedies that occurred in Bangladesh, but college students, activists and people working in social responsibility roles are all starting to hear the rumblings of “where did you get that?” and “who are you wearing?” as both a recognition and response to the diverging ethically ways in which apparel is manufactured.

Gap has announced its decision to phase out toxic chemicals from its products and supply chain, but Greenpeace campaigners are less than enthused with the retail giant’s plan of attack. The problem may lie with the company Gap chooses to keep. The firm is among the latest signatories to the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Programme, a coalition of major apparel and footwear brands, including H&M, Inditex, Nike, Marks & Spencer, and Puma, that formed in the wake of Greenpeace’s 2011 “Detox” campaign. Although the group says it’s committed to leading the fashion industry toward the elimination of all hazardous substances by 2020, Greenpeace isn’t completely sold on its promises.

Ethical fashion, also known as green or sustainable fashion, can take many forms; it can be items that have been passed down (through family or from thrift and vintage shops), fashions by small-batch or local designers, even big brands are jumping on board with fair-trade certifications and using environmentally sustainable fibres like organic cotton or tencel. If this all sounds a little too ‘hippy’, take note that massive mainstream brands like Nike, H&M and Eileen Fisher are joining lesser known brands like The Reformation and Raleigh Denim in pledges to be more sustainable in production, distribution and consumption. While sustainability in fashion is going to require transformative changes in the practices of all involved: designers, manufacturers, marketers, and consumers. But it is consumers, primarily, that need to embody vision for sustainable fashion practice. [Alden, 2014]

Like me, this may be the first time you’ve thought about fashion sustainability or what you’re buying and how effects our planet – do not fear! Being a sustainable fashionista can being with a few simple steps. Here are my four tips:

  1. Buy from ethical brands – like zady.com and shopethica.com take out the guesswork and do the research for you about which labels are sustainably made.

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    The Beautiful Think: Eco Fashion, Ethical Fashion. Why paying more for fashion can actually cost you less‏.
  2. Always read the label — H&M’s Conscious Collection is made using recycled, organic fibres plus other well-known brands like The Reformation and J. Crew
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H&M Conscious CollectionLook to your closet for inspiration – forget buying new items. Repair, better and alter items you love but no longer wear.
  1. Shop vintage, thrift or second-hand – Vintage fashions, that already exist, and are usually better quality than can be purchased today and ensure minimal footprint fashion! [Black, 2014]
  2. Something to consider – have a geeze at these 10 awesome innovations changing the future of fashion!  http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/10-awesome-innovations-changing-future-fashion.html
  3. Jump on to https://www.pinterest.com/imii__/ethical-fashion/ for more ideas!

Bibliography

– Wicker, Alden. “9 Ethical And Sustainable Brands I Found This Month That I Know You’ll Love”. Ecocult.com30 September 2014.

– Black, Kate. “”What Are You Wearing?” When Fashion Matches Ethics.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

– Breyer, Melissa. “10 Awesome Innovations Changing the Future of Fashion.”TreeHugger. MNN HOLDING COMPANY, 4 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

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SUSTAINABLE FASHION