Sustainability in Fashion. Here To Stay or Just Another Trend?

Fast fashion creates a social and environmental mess with its pollution, waste, carbon footprint and poor labor standards, so there will always be a need to improve these issues. This makes sustainable fashion more than just a trend. 

Today’s question: Is sustainable fashion here to stay, or gone tomorrow? 

Before we rush to a decision, let’s quickly recap on what’s unsustainable about today’s fashion norms: 

  • Fashion's carbon footprint

The textile industry emits 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. And that’s just one of the environmental ills. Don’t forget the water pollution from chemical dyes and excessive water consumption, as well as transportation, packaging, synthetic microfiber pollution, unsustainable farming to grow cotton and . . . that’s all I’ve got off the top of my head.  
  • Unethical trade and labor conditions

Ranging from modern slavery to unsafe working conditions, i.e., the Rana Plaza factory collapse of 2013, cheap labor is the backbone of cheap fashion. 
  • The hyper-fast trend cycle

Some fast fashion stores like H&M change their merch once a week, fifty-one times per year. 
  • The waste of fashion

Here’s where we, the shoppers, especially need to self-reflect. Americans throw away about 81 pounds of clothing each year. 

    There are lots of ways to address any one of these issues to become “more sustainable,” such as: 

    Most sustainable fashion trends relate in some way to circular design, which opposes excess “linear” consumerism. This means intercepting the “old stuff” in the waste stream and looping it back into the “new stuff” category. And it applies to almost every industry, not just fashion. 

    When you peel off the cool-sounding label, a very concrete set of limits appears. It’s possible that unsustainable fashion will eventually come to a halt anyway, with the growing population and scarce natural resources. So, something’s gotta give. 

    While that sounds depressing, the “circular economy” never ceases to fuel new ideas. You can now rent pieces of clothing for an Insta photoshoot or wear upcycled textile waste designs by Patrick McDowell.  

    So, if the circular economy effectively swallows consumer culture whole, then sustainable fashion could simply swallow mainstream fashion in the future. 

    Our vote? Here to stay. 


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    Article Written by Erica Eller

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