As the population grows, so too does mass production infrastructure. While having large distribution is necessary for sustaining both the consumer based economy and for keeping consumers alive, the pollution created by mass infrastructure puts the world in a whole new dilemma. While people have access to clothes, food, and other products necessary for survival, the pollution large infrastructure produces threatens our survival in a similar way to not having food or clothing.
As such, the world has attempted many different initiatives to create eco-friendly production methods. Sustainable clothing is one such initiative which has risen in the past decade.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion has to do with creating articles of clothing which are friendly for the environment and healthy for living beings. Oftentimes, clothes are manufactured with harsh chemicals which either pollute the air or can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. When toxic dyes are used, this can cause health issues in chemically sensitive individuals.
Every company has a different take on what sustainable fashion is. Some say that sustainable fashion can only be purely vegan, while others believe that sustainable fashion can use animal products so long as those animals are treated humanely throughout their lives. A true definition of sustainable fashion can be subject to personal ethics, however there are some universal concepts found within sustainable fashion which qualify it as such.
Tips for Creating Sustainable Fashion:
Tip #1: Check Your Material Source
Checking your material source has as much to do with sourcing location as it has to do with choosing renewable resources. When choosing a material sourcing company, it is important for the sustainable clothing brand to do research into the company’s ethics. While the clothing brand may do everything in their power to have an ethical business, if their source of materials uses child labor, slave wages, or unethical material acquisition practices, the brand’s ethos is tainted.
Additionally, using wood, metal or textile materials for your clothing means very little if this material is coming from the endangered sources or drawing resources away from people that need it. Common examples of this are using sandalwood or zebrawood instead of bamboo. Additionally, while organic cotton is good for recyclability, cotton takes great amounts of water to grow. If this water is being taken from areas in drought or Third World countries, the organic cotton is not worth the effort.
Tip #2: Transparency
Have a transparent business ethos. Your brand is your mission statement; your heart. Demonstrating transparency when in your ethics is crucial to showing your audience exactly where and how your brand is sustainable. Every fashion organization has its sins—it is impossible to run any organization without them—but do not fill your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) statement with filler. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do not make yourself look better than you are.
If your company recycles all of your paper materials, great. However, most everyone in the industry does that. What sets your brand part? If you find that your ethics are not up to par, it is time to be real with yourself and to make some changes.
Many companies believe that they can repent for their bad practices through offering support to a charity. Supporting a charity that heralds environmental cleanliness means nothing if you are one of the world’s biggest polluters. Make a change in your practices and partner with the charity in tandem.
Tip #3: Masculine and Feminine Marketing
This is more on the business side, but having gender balanced marketing techniques will actually help the sustainable fashion industry make headway. According to Sewport, studies have found that Environmental sustainability is often branded as a feminine cause. While there are several men who are interested in economically friendly practices, marketing clothing of this type is typically branded towards women. By creating well-rounded lines of clothing and marketing campaigns towards both men and women, brands have a better chance of raising environmental awareness.
Tip #4: Pricing
Lastly, it is important to price your items fairly. While sustainable clothing is more expensive to produce due to the use of ethical sourcing methods, sustainable clothing needs to be affordable for the middle class if a true changes are to be made. Oftentimes people are willing to invest more in a product that helps the environment or supports a charity. However, the quality of the item needs to match the price.
Overall, sustainable fashion is a rising industry that the population is becoming increasingly interested in. Eco-friendly practices and their working conditions are social justice issues which have been very much in the public eye. Using sustainable sources for generating materials and having a transparent business policy are key to becoming known as a sustainable fashion brand. Also, raising awareness through masculine and feminine marketing and making products affordable is an excellent step towards making the influence of sustainable fashion more widespread.
About the Author
Tomas Smith is a production process specialist at Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former advisor to various clothing manufacturing businesses. He is passionate about process optimization and all things related to garment manufacturing, writing and sharing his knowledge with the world.