The fashion industry is the second greatest polluter after the oil industry. There is a massive push in western society to be more environmentally friendly. This rising movement is both necessary and pressing. Most industries have launched some form of campaign to achieve environmental sustainability, and others have launched campaigns that are simply façades and behind the façade is a world of unsustainability.
An example of this would be the H&M campaign launched this year, focusing on recycling clothes donated by customers as well as efforts to make the overall process by which their clothes are created more sustainable. H&M, certainly, has been investing large amounts of money into making H&M an overall more sustainable brand. Despite these noble efforts, they have been accused of something known as “green washing”. “Green washing” is the term used to describe the process in which an organization presents an environmentally responsible public image, while it continues to practice environmentally irresponsible operations. An example of one of these operations in terms of H&M is the amount of clothes produced each day.
H&M is one of the many mainstream label brands that contributes to the frightening western phenomenon known as “fast fashion”. Fast Fashion is the term to describe the fashion cycle split into fifty-two micro seasons. Big brand retailers bring in new clothes at unprecedented rates, and consumers purchase it at those rates. This makes for very cheaply made clothing being mass-produced, and being thrown out after a single use. This is very common and many of the lucrative clothing companies are practising industrial trends catering to “fast fashion”.
Now you might be thinking to yourself: what is the solution? Believe it or not the solution is in your hands. The solution is not to stop shopping at these big brand names altogether and switch over to smaller local shops. This, despite being a possibility, is not a possibility for everyone. For some this solution is simply unaffordable as local brands can be very expensive. Rather, the key is to buy few, quality pieces and to not participate in the “fast fashion” trend. By not buying into these trends, and encouraging your friends to do the same, you are sending a message to the industry that the “fast fashion” way is not the what the consumers desire any longer. If companies see that the consumer wants a good quality piece, they will start to change the industrial processes.
Another question to ask yourself is: is environmental sustainability the only type of sustainability that exists within the fashion world? There are actually two other forms of sustainability: social sustainability and personal sustainability. Social sustainability is ensuring that the humans that fabricate the clothing we wear are paid and treated fairly. I’d like to quickly comment on the form of sustainability that our western culture often pays no attention: personal sustainability. Personal sustainability is putting importance on long term choices in terms of one’s personal style. We need to ask ourselves, will the choices we make about our wardrobes and how we chose to present ourselves, form positive habits or negative habits? At TREnDS, we understand fashion as a means of self-expression, and personal sustainability puts importance on making sure that the way we express ourselves aligns with our intrinsic dignity. In other words, personal sustainability in fashion is what TREnDS is all about. From this blog post, I hope you’ve retained that sustainability extends further than simply stewardship of the earth, but also our bodies.