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Sustainable fashion, also known as eco fashion, is a fast-growing design movement with the goal to reinvent the fashion industry. Eco-fashion encourages fair trade, better working conditions, and ethical design, production, retail, and purchasing (Green Strategy). The fashion industry consumes a lot of resources. “There’s the crude oil that has to be extracted to make synthetic fabrics, the water, and pesticides that are used to grow cotton. Then there’s the garbage that piles up when people grow tired of the last trend and toss out their clothes, as they do with increasing speed (Green Strategy). Clothing and accessories that are manufactured and marketed in a sustainable manner take into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. From an environmental perspective, the aim should be to minimize any undesirable environmental effect of the product’s life cycle. This can be done by ensuring efficient and careful uses of natural resources, selecting renewable energy sources, and maximizing the repair, remake, reuse, and recycling of the product and its components.
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Sustainable fashion is partly about producing clothing in an environmentally sustainable manner, but also about developing a sustainable pattern of consumption and use. Sustainable fashion is something everyone can take part in - both as consumers and producers. The main responsibility of fashion companies is to change their production, distribution, and marketing methods to achieve greater sustainability (Green Strategy). Ways companies achieve this goal is by initiating rental systems for leasing garments and creating fashion that is long-lasting and durable. Other companies have set up collection and recycling systems that support increased tactile recycling and others manufactured clothes with certified textiles, ensuring fair trade.
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There are several forms of sustainable fashion that both producers and consumers can take part in. All sustainable strategies promote more environmentally conscious production and consumption and are important steps towards a more sustainable industry (Green Strategy). The first form of sustainable fashion is making clothing on demand. This includes made-to-order clothing, tailor-made, bespoke, and DIY clothing. The second form of sustainable fashion emphasizes making clothing in an environmentally friendly manner. The third way to make better choices regarding fashion is to consider various ethical aspects. Make sure you buy from clothing companies that ensure safe working conditions and fair wages. This information can usually be found on the brand’s website. Garment companies should also ensure that all phases of a product’s lifecycle are green and clean (Green Strategy). Additionally, purchasing high quality, timeless designs will ensure you will get good wear out of your clothing! If these clothing products wear down, try to repair, redesign, or upcycle the clothing instead of buying new clothing. If the garment is completely worn out, you can also return it to a collection point for recycling or reuse. If you are in need of new wardrobe staples, instead of buying new clothes from online, try shopping at secondhand shops or vintage thrift stores. Not only will you be reducing waste, but you will also score some unique finds! Lastly, if you are in need of formal wear that you will most likely only wear once, trying renting, loaning, or swapping clothes! There are many brands, like Rent the Runway, that rent high fashion and couture at a reasonable price. These decisions not only help the environment but all help save your wallet from making big purchases!
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When buying new clothes, we should all try to purchase from companies that manufacture their clothing in an environmentally, socially, and ethically conscious manner. One of the best ways of becoming a more conscious consumer is to become educated. Start thinking about where the clothing in your closest was manufactured and if the people who made it were treated fairly. One way to join the movement is to reject fast fashion and adopt slow fashion buying methods. Retailers who mass produce cheap clothing and ship it to you in a matter of days are most likely not following ethical or sustainable methods. Instead, research brands who only sell made-to-order clothing or ensure their workforce are treated fairly. Joining the movement of sustainable fashion is something we should all aspire to do. The bottom line is, sustainable fashion is not a fad or trend. It is here to stay. As humans and global citizens, we as a consumer society can do better when buying clothes.
Here is an A-Z list for brands and retailers producing sustainable fashion!