Sustainable fashion (also known as eco-fashion) is an all-inclusive term describing products, processes, activities, and actors (policymakers, brands, consumers) aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry, built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It addresses the entire process in which clothing is produced, consumed, and disposed of; who, what, how, when, where and the product’s expected useful life before entering a landfill. The sustainable movement looks to combat the large carbon footprint that fast fashion has created by reducing the environmental impact of fashion such as air pollution, water pollution, and overall climate change.
The Myths of Sustainable Fashion | Everything You Need to Know
I became interested in Sustainable Fashion after watching a YouTube video where an entire building in Indonesia collapsed on factory workers and most of them died. This got me thinking that I had to make better purchasing decisions as it relates to clothing as no outfit is worth people dying over. On the other side of this is that certain jobs allow people in 3rd world countries to be employed to care for their families, BUT!!! IT IS STILL NOT WORTH THEM DYING to make me and you clothing. I started to dive deeper into this new world of Sustainable Fashion and decided to no longer support Fast Fashion brands and instead focused on curating a capsule wardrobe that contained sustainable fashion brand lines and my local designers.
For a session of my Saturdays LIVE, hosted on Instagram I invited Sustainable Fashion Designer and Educator Mellissa Jo Miller to dispel a few myths and speak more about sustainable fashion. Check out the interview below.
The Myths of Sustainable Fashion
What is sustainable Fashion?
Being intentional about knowing where your clothing is from and having an idea of the processes involved. This involves being mindful of the resources we are using and how is it being disposed of. For me, it’s all about where I’m ordering my fabrics from and not just the company from which it comes, but where is that company getting it from. It looks like using natural fibres like cotton or wool – they can be composted or they will biodegrade. Are the farmers producing these fibers? For the everyday person, it can look at where are you buying your clothing from? You don’t always need to buy new clothes either – be mindful of the amount of clothing you are purchasing.
How can people get into this new Fashion Job Option?
There are different organizations that people can follow that do a lot of research and education around sustainable Fashion. Fashion Revolution is a great resource. They are constantly putting out information throughout the year, and they also have Fashion Revolution Week. There are a couple of others out there where if you Google, Cyclical Fashion or Sustainable Fashion Non-Profits as keywords, they will appear.
For the consumer, who may not know the ins and outs of what goes on, it is still important to be mindful of where you are getting your clothing from.
Some of the jobs include:
- Social Media Marketing for a Company
- Supply Chain Managers
- Textile Chemist
- Fashion Stylist
- Data Scientist
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager
There are programs that will allow you to get into this field. You can learn more about the work I do HERE and YouTube is a great resource.
Is sustainable fashion here to stay?
Yes! There are some companies that have been doing the necessary work and even have teams who are being trained to be more ethically conscious. We live in an eco-friendly world where people now have access to the best of everything inclusive of fashion. There is enough public awareness of what sustainable fashion is and what it can be.
People are really starting to pay attention, especially as consumers, we are at a point where we’re kinda at the crux of where global awareness grows around it and which direction are we going to head. Will we head that absolutely everybody should be aware? or well, it’s not that big of a deal?
Is Sustainable Fashion Sustainable? ( can I afford it, start a business, make a living, etc?
As a consumer, probably not! It’s really difficult to know where every single piece of your clothing came from. However, you can start somewhere with little things like your undergarment or socks. This does not mean getting rid of clothes that are perfectly good which means you would have contributed to waste.
For me, how a person can make sustainable fashion sustainable for themselves is to be mindful of purchasing decisions. Will this piece last long enough to justify my making money from it? Do I really need this $5 shirt or can I purchase a $50 shirt? It’s these everyday decisions that make it sustainable for us. A great way to make it more sustainable is to support local designers and make their collections more visible. Most likely, they will have way more knowledge of where their supplies are from than a larger organization. It’s difficult, but it’s possible.
Tell us about your involvement in sustainable fashion and the work you are doing.
Both my boss and I are full time in this organization (. We are both Fashion Designers and come from a Sustainable Fashion background where both of our brands are eco-conscious brands. We incorporate knowledge and awareness around sustainable Fashion in a lot of different ways, it could incorporate it into different classes – one of the classes I teach is Textiles. I find it important to not just talk about textiles and what sustainable fashion is, but also what natural fibers are versus synthetic. I also think it’s important to have hands-on knowledge so that when I’m building out my textiles course, I can say we are actively working with the material. For example this year, I brought in 5 bags of raw wool from local Farmers and so my students were working with that. This was straight off the sheep so they didn’t have to get the wool off the sheep, but they did everything else. They had to clean it and all processes involved. This allowed them to now appreciate wool for more than what it is because they are aware of all the hard work that went into it.
This is how we build our programs to build that awareness into almost everything that we do.
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Sustainable Fashion Resources