Featuring words by guest blogger: Ivy Tang
Sustainability, a word that has been increasingly utilized by brands ranging from high street to luxury, carries very different meanings to each individual. In an industry that has one of the most wasteful and harmful practices, fashion brands are finally listening to their largely millennial consumers and gradually starting to take actions towards the better cause.
But what is sustainability? You would ask. The word has been thrown around by brands left and right like Oprah giving away cars. But in my opinion, sustainable brands should have the following: ethical sourcing (if the materials are sustainably-sourced, recycled or biodegradable), fur-free, humane working conditions (if the workers are paid well and treated well), efficient waste management (what does the brand do with off-cuts, water usage), and reduction of carbon footprint (what they use for packaging and shipping, if the garments are locally made), etc. These are all legitimate points that the fashion brands have to consider when producing their collections, and they’re definitely not mutually exclusive. Every aspect of fashion retail involves a multitude of resources and manpower.
It’s up to the brands to make a difference rather than using the movement as a means of attracting more sales and customers.
As someone who works closely with the fashion industry, I have been hearing more and more brands push for “sustainability” at almost every preview in the last few months. But the phrase was used to describe anything from using recycled fabrics to going fur-free. Very few brands, if any, are able to meet the standard in every step of their business. This might be due to the fact that there is no regulation in the industry at the moment for a standard, unlike the food and beauty industries, which have a third party who would set a standard for brands to follow. But more and more brands are starting to work to address the issues and make an effort to do the best they can to raise awareness and facilitate change.
As a consumer, it is also our role to inform the brands of our needs for change and our care about the planet, its people and its resources. I’m also constantly trying to educate myself to be better at supporting sustainable fashion and living a more eco-conscious lifestyle. It’s not as easy as one might think, but every step counts. We could take actions in different ways, but the most effective way to is to minimize new purchases. If we do need to buy new things, go second-hand or support local and/or sustainable businesses that are making a difference.
Here are some brands that I think are making a difference!
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Words by Ivy Tang
Ivy is a Toronto-based fashion & beauty writer, market editor and stylist. Find her on IG @ivy_t521