Friday, December 4, 2020


 By Luke Douglas

Woman photo created by svetlanasokolova -

Sustainability trends are gaining popularity as new generations of consumers are realizing the impact of harmful manufacturing practices on our planet — and the world of fashion is no exception.

Recently, the dark reality of fast fashion has come to light, specifically the issues of extreme water and product waste, the exploitation of workers in sweatshops, as well as the fact that the low-quality items produced by fast fashion usually end up in landfills not long after purchase.

With those issues rising to the surface, and as we learn more about the negative impacts of things like fast fashion on our world, we can collectively find alternatives that are more ethical and ecological.

Sustainability VS Greenwashing

You might have wondered before, or are maybe wondering now: what does an eco-friendly clothing brand look like? Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot the wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to supporting sustainable and eco-conscious businesses.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to distinguish genuinely sustainable brands from others is due to what is known as greenwashing. Essentially, greenwashing is a marketing ploy that takes consumers’ interests in sustainability and uses it to trick them into believing a brand or product is eco-friendly when they are actually far from it.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has even created guidelines outlining how to differentiate between actual green products and the ones using greenwashing tactics. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, famed fashion house Alexander McQueen practiced sustainable design, with designer Sarah Burton and team using out of stock fabric for the Resort 2021 collection rather than creating new fabrics. The practice is rare among design houses of McQueen’s caliber, pandemic or not.

Woman psd created by freepik -

The Growing Affordability of Sustainable Fashion

One of the perks of this sustainable trend is there are now a lot more eco-friendly clothing brands to pick from than before. This makes it a lot easier to dress as you like and keep up with fashion trends, while also keeping the planet in mind. Moreover, sustainable brands are becoming more affordable, whereas it used to cost a fortune to be an eco-friendly consumer. Budget is a huge factor in people’s shopping choices and, for a long time, many sustainable options were simply too expensive for a lot of people to access. As more brands turn towards eco-friendly practices, however, the more likely we are to see a steady decrease in consumer pricing and accessibility.

Of course, sustainable fashion will never be as cheap as most fast fashion — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, it means that while clothes might cost more, at least the people making them are being treated and paid properly and the company can create products in a way that has a significantly smaller impact on our planet. For example, instead of shopping at fast fashion brands, you can shop at ABLE, a feminist brand with fair labor practices, or Alternative Apparel, an ethical and sustainable brand. New York Magazine’s The Strategist recently curated a list of the 16 best sustainable clothing brands for women, grouping them based on concerns like processes, materials, or labor practices.

It’s also worth noting that the responsibility of sustainability practices to help save our planet does not rest solely on the businesses’ shoulders. It is also the consumers’ responsibility to make ethical, sustainable decisions. 

Fashion photo created by halayalex -

The Evolution of Thrifting to Negate Fast Fashion

The trend of living a more eco-friendly lifestyle has certainly led to some interesting shifts and changes within the world of style and fashion. Take, for instance, the current trend of thrift store styling, more specifically, people shopping the oversized look that is popular these days. Of course, oversized fashion is nothing new, first being popularized by Black rappers and R&B singers in the late 80s. The resurgence in thrifting and oversized looks though is an interesting reflection of the current social climate, as it once was in the 80s. Today, consumers are becoming more interested in sustainable products and lifestyles. While the oversized look is sure to disappear again, like most trends, thrift store shopping might not. 

These days, many people have realized the financial and ecological benefits of reusing clothing and the stigma of second-hand clothes seems to be slowly fading away. It’s also helped that fast fashion’s harmful practices have become more public knowledge throughout the years. With a quick trip to the thrift store, it’s easy to pull together the kind of stylish, oversized graphic tee and pants combo you’d see all over social media and magazines — or any trend, for that matter.

Second-hand clothing also helps diversify fashion trends as pieces aren’t mass-produced and thus mass consumed. People can create numerous, one-of-a-kind outfits and lookbooks using thrifted and borrowed clothes.

Woman photo created by wayhomestudio -

Reduce and Reuse

Waste is a big concern in the world of sustainability. While people often think of recycling as the main contributor to reducing their carbon footprint, this is a bit of a misconception. The recycling Mobius loop that we’re so familiar with actually places reduce and reuse before recycling. This essentially means that while recycling is extremely important, we need to first reduce our consumption and reuse items before recycling or trashing them.

This can be as simple as picking timeless items and the correct size. Getting married? Utilize guides to find your correct ring size and preferred style to ensure it lasts a lifetime. And go with a ring that comes from an ethically sourced company as the diamond industry is full of extremely harmful practices and methods. It’s also worth considering renting your wedding clothes or buying second-hand from a brand that prioritizes sustainable practices.

Prefer to shop online? Measure the key areas on your body, like your waist, hips, and bust, and write down your measurements so you can select the right size online. This will save you time and money and also cut down on the carbon emissions and other harmful pollutants that will ultimately be used when you have to return items that don’t fit. Plus, a lot of returned items end up in landfills because companies cannot or will not re-sale returned items.

Fashion photo created by halayalex -

While the fashion industry as a whole has a long road ahead towards true sustainability, as consumers, we can start making better fashion choices today. By creating ethical, sustainable habits now, we can look forward to a lot more years of fashion and style.

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