What is sustainable fashion?

A more globalised world has changed the face of fashion. New trends and fashion can be mass produced and sold to consumers at lightening speed for the lowest possible cost. Outsourcing factories to poorer countries has driven the price of clothing down to a minimum (even when the cost of transporting across vast oceans is factored in). The product of fast fashion was a throwaway culture. People are now culturally conditioned to buy an item of clothing, wear it a few times and then throw it out as a new season, with tantalising new trends, comes in.

‘Sustainable’ fashion- a relatively new concept in comparison to ‘globalised’ or ‘fast’ fashion. Animal welfare, labour conditions, carbon footprint, how long a garment lasts, recycling and material choice are all elements of sustainable fashion, but the list goes on. To different companies and brands, sustainable fashion means different things, leaving consumers confused, uninspired and unable to resonate with the true meaning of sustainability. Some say sustainable fashion is simply environmentally friendly, yet this is part of the wider trend that is ‘ethical’ fashion. The broad definition of sustainable is to continue indefinitely, but when applied to fashion, it boils down to this: a complete system (from manufacture to disposal) that uses resources in a way that does not compromise the needs of future generations, has a minimal impact on the environment and also one that enriches and supports communities at all levels of development.

Globalising the fashion industry has proved it’s ability to drive change, but has also shown how the industry has the power to induce a shift in consumer attitudes. Fashion is the most influential communication platform in existence. This power should be harnessed and used for the greater good. The industry has the potential to be an innovator instead of a destroyer, and can make sustainable fashion fashionable.