Sustainable is the New Sexy.
While celebrating Earth Day this past weekend, I began thinking about all of the ways I negatively impact the environment. The first thing that came to mind was my tendency for frivolous purchases when it comes to clothing. The Fashion Industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to Big Oil. Over the past decade, the cost of clothing has actually gone down due to the demands of quick turnover and the rapid movement of trends. Fast-fashion companies especially wreak havoc on the environment by producing thousands of styles at any given time, to be worn on a few occasions, and then thrown away. People don't often think about the workers behind their labels. The treatment of many garment workers is unethical, as they are forced to work long hours for unlivable wages. The garment industry is very labor intensive, but little is known about where raw materials for clothing are sourced and where these pieces are being assembled. The lack of transparency in these supply chains allow companies to get away with the mistreatment of workers and the negative impact clothing production can have on the environment. Thankfully, celebrity influencers and designers are using their platform for the greater good by educating people on alternative brands that you can feel good about purchasing from. Typically, luxury and sustainability aren't associated with one another, but brands such as Stella McCartney have made their eco-friendly business practices public from the start, and marketed this way. Many luxury brands are sustainable, but because eco-fashion isn't seen as chic, they don't share this information to the general public. But this stigma is disappearing fast. Recently, with the emergence of many new eco-friendly brands, customers are becoming more aware that eco-friendly doesn't mean frumpy. Because sustainable fashion is usually thought to be unaffordable, I've put together a list of brands that are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint, have a positive impact on communities around the world, all while leaving money in your pocket.
The Reformation is one of my favorite sustainable brands. This L.A. based brand has created a culture around it's sustainability efforts. Reformation has a "Ref Scale" that shows how your purchase is positively impacting the planet by calculating how much water, waste, and carbon dioxide is saved compared to typical clothing brand's in the United States. The company recently came out with their first line of bathing suits, made from 85% recycled materials. The style of Reformation is very cute and girly, and always on trend. There is something for everyone on this site, as the collections range from evening looks and wedding gowns, to more casual wear. There are no behind the scenes secrets, as the company offers tours of their privately owned factories, and gives customers updates on their workers and policies.
Asos Eco Edit
Asos is my favorite online shopping destination. The site offers hundreds of categories, with so many designers to choose from at all price points. The Eco Edit was launched in 2010 and continuously adds to their list of designers, with 45 fashion and beauty brands currently featured on the site. For a brand to be considered on the Eco Edit, it has to meet certain criteria, which includes; building better communities around the world, applying manufacturing techniques that reduce waste, using sustainable and natural fibers, is vintage, or supports small-scale manufacturing. The site offers it's customers the option to see exactly where their clothes are coming from, who is making them, and how their purchase is impacting society for the better.
I know what many of you are thinking, how could this fast fashion brand possibly be eco-friendly? There is still a lot of work to be done, but we can applaud H&M for setting the standard for the fast fashion business model. Since 2013, the brand has been an innovator in the fashion industry, amping up its sustainability efforts with their "close the loop" campaign that allows customers to bring back their old clothing to be redistributed responsibly. The brand publishes its sustainability reports on a yearly basis and is a leader for change. Each item in the H&M Conscious Collection is made of at least 50% sustainable or recycled materials. A lot of shoreline plastic, tencel, and organic silk are used in most of the looks from the collection. Bionic yarn is made from plastic waste, and can create beautiful garments, like the ruffled gown pictured above. Their Spring '17 collection dropped April 20th, just in time for Earth Day, and it is definitely worth checking out.
Where do we go from here?
As customers and lovers of fashion, it is our duty to make sure the clothes we buy are from brands who are making attempts to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their good will to society. The more people who encourage their favorite brands to become more sustainable, the better the fashion industry can serve everyone and the environment!