Fashion is a $3 trillion industry, which accounts for 5% of global CO2 emissions. Enter sustainable fashion.
It is a unifying term, tying together green, ethical, slow and circular fashion strands, all of which promote responsible practices and business models that counter the notorious shortcomings of the industry, including low-paid labor, unhealthy working conditions, low-quality clothing, environmentally destructive production practices, vast amounts of waste and contributions to unsustainable lifestyle patterns.
But things are changing. A recent report called Pulse of the Fashion Industry, published by the Global Fashion Agenda in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, explains that sustainable fashion is no longer on the margins. In recent years more sustainable practices have been taking hold, giving birth to new initiatives.
This year more than 94 companies have joined the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment while fashion industry leaders like H&M, Nike and many others have come together under the Maker Fashion Circular initiative to deliver a “radical redesign of the fashion industry” with the aim of keeping clothes in use longer, using safe and renewable materials, and promoting circular product lifecycles. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, such changes are not only good for the environment, but also provide $ a 500 billion opportunity for the industry.
Meanwhile, one of the largest global shapers has been Fashion for Good, with a range of initiatives, including the launch of a revolutionary Cradle to Cradle Certified Denim and Materials toolkit, which facilitates the development of fashion products according to the highest sustainability standards. Available for free, the toolkit was published together with the launch of the first Cradle to Cradle GOLD denim jeans from 100% organic cotton by C&A. Consider a trendy #WearTheChange hashtag.
This October, Fashion for Good is set to open its first Experience Museum in Amsterdam, inviting visitors to explore diverse facets and techniques of sustainable fashion within settings of stunning visual beauty and style. According to a press release, the museum will provide answers to the questions like “How is biodegradable glitter made?” “Can a dress be made from mushroom roots?” and “How can block-chain technology make the garment production process more transparent?”
Among the other groundbreaking initiatives have been AI technologies and robots creating better working conditions for humans and cutting the waste of the industry through predicting consumer preferences.
It doesn’t end there. More and more major fashion industry events are making sustainability their top priority, including the upcoming Fashion Summit in Hong Kong this autumn and Copenhagen Fashion Summit in the spring of 2019.
However, the Pulse report authors note that “the pace of change doesn’t go far or fast enough” beyond effective individual players and we’ll need “active collaboration and a clear commitment by the industry’s leaders to prioritize a responsible long-term strategy.”
To learn more about sustainable fashion, check out an inspiring piece on young designers and an insightful TED-talk by a sustainable fashion enthusiast Amit Kalra on combating the issue of waste in the industry.