When we think about sustainability in the fashion industry, what comes to our mind? Cruelty free? Eco-friendly? Green products? Recycling and reusing of old products? Whatever the case may be, is sustainability really important not just the fashion industry but, also the beauty industry? Although my main focus in this article will be on the fashion industry which is one of the largest growing industry in the world, producing an item every single second! First of all, what is sustainability all about?
We all buy clothes and shoes without thinking about what the products were made from and the process involved in making it. According to research made by Business Of Fashion’s team; it takes more than twenty thousand litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton which is converted to one t-shirt and a single pair of jeans; that much water consumed just to make a single shirt. How will plants grow? What about the fishes and the environment? The aim of sustainability is to make the environment eco-friendly, to minimize environmental impact, to reduce energy consumption, for commercial purposes, to minimise the use of water, to make a positive impact on people, the environment, and the world as a whole.
In that case, sustainable fashion uses environmentally sustainable materials like bamboo, natural dye, recycled/recyclable materials, compostable materials, cruelty free materials, and organic cotton rather than chemicals, leather, feather, fur or animal skin of any kind which pollutes and causes harm to the environment and the animals involved.
With that said, as bloggers; mostly fashion bloggers who are gifted items by brands to review, we might remember a certain time when a blogger was called out for wearing a product made out of real fox fur; which brings us to the idea of sustainability in the fashion industry. In order to make just that single fur and so many others that were put up for sale, so many foxes were killed, and skinned; leading to a lower population rate or an extinction of that specific breed of fox. Besides that, animal hind/skin are also used to produced clothes, shoes, belts and bags. For example, sheep’s are skinned and used for cotton, reptiles like snakes and crocodiles are killed and used to make leather -even baby calves are used for leather-, while birds are used for their feathers.
Without sustainability in the fashion industry, a lot of animals would be killed, and the environment will be highly polluted due to the different chemicals used to turn some raw materials into clothes. Rather than chemicals and animal hinds, fashion brands can opt for environmentally friendly materials, recycled materials, handmade products, organic/natural materials, faux fur, vegan leather, even old clothes, and, making their packaging mainly of recycled/recyclable materials, as well as compostable materials in order to ensure a healthy eco-friendly environment whilst protecting animals.
I reached out to Tom Lovelace from Hawthorn, clothing manufacturers based in London. He shared his thoughts with me about sustainability in the fashion industry:
The fashion industry is actually the second most polluting industry in the world, and as clothing manufacturers ourselves we’re passionate about doing something to change that. We’re at the forefront of the industry, ourselves specialising in helping start up brands come to market. This means that we have exposure to a lot of fledgling brands who may or may not have thought about sustainability and the impact of the industry yet.
Most start up brands are very product focused, so we always try to actively encourage them to use sustainable alternatives to fabrics where possible. Organic cotton for example is a great material which isn’t much more expensive than regular cotton, but in using it, brands are making steps towards helping the whole industry become more sustainable. We feel that because we work with start up brands, if we can encourage them to use sustainable fabrics in their infancy, we can help them to start off on a track which will help the industry as a whole.