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.


Sustainable Fashion: Spring picks

It’s FINALLY Spring! The nights are becoming longer, and the blossom is blooming. I’ve chosen a few of my favourite sustainably made items from the UK’s three most sustainable high street brands: M&S, H&M and Zara. 

(From left to right)

1. (Left) M&S Tencel® Soft Trench Coat, £99.00.
Tencel® is derived from eucalyptus trees that are sustainably sourced. It is unique in that it has a closed loop production process, and has microscopic holes between it’s fibres which absorb moisture and allow air to pass through- keeping you cool AND warm in rain and shine. Trench coats are timeless classics, so this mac will be a dependable, chic wardrobe investment.

2. (Top middle) H&M Conscious Lyocell Jumpsuit, £39.99.
Lyocell is actually a variation of Tencel®, so has a similar, breathable quality as M&S’ mac. This is from H&M’s Divided Grey  range, (but has the Conscious hangtag) which has a more grungy, gothic style. This jumpsuit is a real gem as it’s an easy piece to dress up or down, making it wearable night and day. Don’t forget you can get a £5 off of this jumpsuit- just bring in a bag of your old unwanted clothes/textiles to your local H&M store and you’ll get a voucher in return!

3. (Bottom middle) H&M Conscious Lyocell Joggers, £24.99.
Comfortable and sustainable, these joggers are heavenly. The elasticated waist and the addition of pockets make them practical and stylish. P.s. they come in a chalky grey too!

4. (Right) Zara Organic cotton top, £9.99. 
Let the Spring sun shine on your shoulders in this bardot-style, soft cotton T-shirt, made free from nasty pesticides and chemicals.


Making fashion sustainable is almost ironic. Fashion is centred around a throw-away culture, where each season old garments are thrown out and replaced with new ones, in keeping with the newest trends. Each time this happens, garments are often simply thrown away, rather than being reused or recycled.

31% of the UK’s used clothes end up in landfills. This incredulous amount of wastage does not need to be so.

At H&M, the aim is “to make fashion sustainable and to make sustainability fashionable.”

H&M’s sustainability sector, called ‘Conscious’, has launched a garment collecting scheme to bring this aim to life.

You can take your old unwanted clothes and home textiles into any H&M store in the world, so that the fibres can be made use of again. To top off the satisfaction of doing something good for the environment, you will receive a £5 off a £30 spend voucher to say a big “thank you” for your contribution.

 Watch the video below or click on the link to H&M’s website to learn more about H&M Conscious.

Long live fashion!