Combining fashion with sustainability can be difficult, but with some attention given towards the fashion industry, sustainability can do wonders for the environment. In recent times, there is a lot of talk about sustainable fashion and people are becoming aware of its benefits. This growing awareness is bringing positive changes in the fashion business as well as to the fashion admirers i.e. us.
As a customer earlier, what was visible on the rack defined the fashion brand, but today, people are interested in finding out the origin of their purchase. As most of us are very particular about our style and what we wear, we are also interested to know more about the designer as well as the background of how the clothes are produced, where they are produced and the method used to produce the fabric.
We are communicating a lot more due to social media, therefore it is not easy to conceal any negative facts, so the best course of action for companies is to become transparent in their offering.
The production of what might seem like a basic t-shirt requires tons of water (2700 litres on average), the chemicals and oils used to dye that t-shirt further pollute the same water bodies from which so much water was first extracted. This harms the environment to a huge extent that affects animals and even humans are subject to many atrocities.
Many high street brands have been under firing for inappropriate working conditions of human labor in countries (some of them India, Bangladesh, Philippines). The laborers are exploited by low wages, undeclared extra working hours, and in instances improper unsanitary working space in factories.
Fast fashion has had its role to play in this by stocking too many varieties of clothes as well as offering at a cheap price, therefore customers are encouraged to buy more quantity and less quality (e.g. use of synthetics). In keeping with the fashion trend, there is high production that leads to wastage.
Customers however have changed their outlook and have started doing their bit by avoiding purchasing those clothes, which they know would have harmed the environment or wasted resources. With this new wave of awareness, the need of the hour for all fashion designers and businesses is to shift towards sustainable fashion.
This shift cannot be swift and sudden but can begin in small steps. Many big fashion brands and designers all over the globe have already started shifting their brands towards sustainability. To survive in the competitive fashion industry sooner or later, all will have to tread the path of sustainability.
A few steps that can be taken by designers and fashion businesses to make their business more sustainable are:-
1.) The fashion businesses can start by preparing a new collection within the same brand that focuses on the conscious use of resources and protects all kinds of animal and human rights in its process. Many fast fashion brands like 'Bershka', 'Stradivarius' and 'H&M' have a special collection line that is just focused on showcasing their commitment to sustainability.
2.) Recycling clothes is an interesting way to re-utilise the fabric by donating it to a charity or re-design the old outfit to create something new to suit your current taste.
3.) A clothes swap exhibition online or offline can be organized by the brand or business which can provide customers a chance to bring out clothes they don't need in exchange for another piece of clothing of similar value. The business may earn a little profit by taking a fee for allowing participation in the clothes swaps initiative, but it is a positive display by the business of working towards sustainability.
4.) It is also very important for businesses to promote traditional and artisanal works. By doing this, not only does it create employment for many at the local level, but also projects a particular brand's or a fashion designer's interest in culture and history. In India, many designers are well known for projecting the Indian culture in their work and promoting Indian handicraft skills that may not be found anywhere else in the world. This step also preserves the dying art that is executed only by a few artisans in rural areas.
5.) A little research into the type of fabric can go a long way. A basic step towards making your fashion business/brand sustainable is using sustainable fabric materials. for example, linen, organic or recycled cotton, Tencel and many more.
6.) Eliminating the use of plastic in bags, packaging, delivery boxes, all should either be recycled or a paper derived from alternative material.
These are small steps that a business can take towards spreading the message of sustainability, this urgency in positive change needs to reach out to the world.
Fashion is extremely influential, impactful and undeniably a part of everyone's life, which helps spread the importance of sustainability.