You don’t need to look far to understand how fundamentally flawed the vast majority of the fashion industry is. Many brands and companies have come to realise this in the last decade, changing their supply to provide more concrete and quantifiable information about their workers and materials largely on the back of consumer demands.
We’ll uncover below how the fashion industry has changed over the years and why sustainable fashion is important:
- Why fashion trends are bad
- How fashion has changed over the years
- Why sustainable fashion is important
- Is sustainable fashion more expensive
Why fashion trends are bad
Fashion trends come and go; first, you have the introduction, the rise, acceptance, decline and ultimately obsolescence. We’ve all witnessed the rise and fall of many fashion trends. Think about the style in the 60s and how that was different from the 70s and so on. Fashion trends are everywhere but they have gotten faster over time and will continue to unless brands begin to emphasise on systems change, unlearn and slow down. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing speed of fashion trends and the desire for cheap production from brands has, as usual, impacted the people that make the clothes and burden communities and the planet with fashion waste, leading to clothing poverty.
Geraldine Wharry, a fashion designer from 1999 to 2010 describes the industry as a ‘hypercycle’ and ‘hamster wheel’ with brands constantly chasing the newest and next best trend. She says brands ‘must accept to unlearn and transition to new infrastructures and ways of using and making clothing urgently’
It’s estimated the fashion industry overproduces products by about 30-40% each season, contributing to approximately 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. A lot of these trends, which we’ll cover below, have a large relationship with social media which can propel and accelerate trends rapidly, contributing to overconsumption.
How fashion has changed over the years
Previously, it was a brand’s editors and designers that used to be the gatekeepers of the fashion industry. They set the trends through magazines and publications to the customer and these trends had a tendency to last. Although, for many men and women, fashion is tied to their identity with the belief you are what you wear, the evolving fashion industry largely comes down to people changing. To understand fashion in its current state, you must know and appreciate the history and trends of fashion over time, dive into the history in this article to see some of the most trend-setting styles to the most unforgettable.
For the most part, iconic trends are always kept alive from the past as fashion is on a never-ending wave of revival and change. However, in this day and age new styles and trends are being churned out quicker than consumers can keep up, there are completely different trends for each city.
Social media plays a large role and the world’s connectivity has accelerated fashion trends significantly. In today’s world, Instagram and TikTok have enabled influencers and social media phenomenons to become trendsetters by providing content that encourages their followers to purchase the things they advocate. With a combined 2 billion monthly users, the power of the visuals and influence of consumers is immense. With the ability to tag photos and videos with a link to the product, these new and trending styles are only a click away.
Why sustainable fashion is important
Today, consumers are savvier than ever before. They pay attention to the quality of the garments but also the whole supply chain and production process. They are also more aware of the greenwashing terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ with no quantifiable data to support them.
Sustainable fashion reduces your carbon footprint
The global fashion industry emits a massive amount of greenhouse gases every year. Largely due to the production of most clothes that are petroleum-based and made from fossil fuels, like nylon, polyester and acrylic.
Sustainable brands, on the other hand, use materials that are natural or regenerated fabrics which require much less or no chemical treatment, and use less water and energy. For example, ECONYL regenerated nylon can reduce the global warming impact of nylon by up to 80% in comparison to its oil-based counterparts.
Sustainable fashion brands use much less water
Have you already heard the mind-boggling statistic of how much water it takes to produce a single cotton t-shirt? If not, it’s 2,500 litres of water. Cotton is highly dependent on water and is usually produced in warmer areas where water is already scarce.
According to Science Direct, organic cotton reduces water consumption by 91% compared to conventional cotton. Unfortunately, only 1% of cotton production is organic. This is a result of significantly higher cost seeds, new investments into machinery and materials which are only used on organic grown crops.
If you see sustainable brands being slightly more expensive, don’t shy away, know you’re making an investment into the planet.
Sustainable fashion doesn’t support harsh working conditions
To truly evaluate a brand’s ethical factor, look out for third party certification labels such as Fair Wear, Fair Trade and B-Corp Certified. These organisations ensure works rights are protected and no child labour takes place. They also ensure workers are paid fairly, often above market rates, and that working conditions are safe.
Our top 3 favourite sustainable fashion brands on GoEthical
1 People are a luxury fashion design brand. They use only the best sustainable and ethical materials to create a unique and unforgettable product experience of the highest quality and a perfect finish, always, and without any compromises.
Conceptualised by two best friends who combined their passions for fashion and health to create an eco clothing brand with comfort. Today, Boody is available around the world, with a shared vision to make their customers look and feel good. They want to bring you a true sensory experience in your everyday essentials. Using natural materials that are in greater harmony with the planet.
Ellyla was born from the desire to make sustainable and cruelty-free fashion affordable. Their bags are hand-made by small teams of skilled artisans in India. They have perfected their skills through years of knowledge and traditional techniques that have been passed down generations. Ellyla empowers their artisans by providing them with a platform to perform. All products are made from natural plant-based fibres.