Fashion’s environmental footprint is one of the largest of all the industries in the world. With trying to don new outfits and trends every week, the culture of fast fashion has consumed the market ridiculously and successfully kept the consumers in the dark about its catastrophic effects. But not anymore! There is a growing awareness among the consumers about the “behind-the-scenes” of the products as well as the brands that they choose to associate themselves with. There is an increasing number of populations leaning toward sustainable fashion rather than sticking to fast fashion to save an extra few buck.
“Sustainability” is no longer just a trendy word to throw around, it is no longer about just buying eco…it is about spreading awareness and holding the brands accountable for the enormous amount of fashion waste. It is a lifestyle. The sustainability movement has created a community that ethically promotes it and adds value to the fashion industry. Instagram accounts like Diet Prada and Fashion Revolution are actively engaging in conversations surrounding sustainability and making it a point to call out everyone involved in the malpractice surrounding the industry.
Now, trends and designs are not the only focus of fashion houses and brands to be successful but also their meaningful contribution to the betterment of the environment. Moreover, brands like Nike and Patagonia are implementing innovative strategies to combat the issue at hand. Nike announced its new initiative, “Nike Refurbished” which will allow its customers to buy used shoes in select showrooms at a discount. Returns made within 60 days of purchase will be sold in a bid to reduce the number of sneakers that end up in the landfill. According to The Chic Ecologist, out of the 20 billion pairs of shoes produced annually, approximately 300 million pairs end up in landfills and last for almost 1,000 years. If this is not enough to display the grave consequences of excess production there is in the fashion industry, we may need to rethink our priorities in the movement of sustainability.
On similar lines, Patagonia, “the activist company” is the frontrunner in the fashion sustainability movement and has undertaken multitude of environmental projects. From pledging one percent of all its sales in 1985 to pledging 100% of its Black Friday Sales in 2016 ($10Mn) to environmental groups, Patagonia has done it all and continues to do more. By 2025, it aims to become carbon neutral. The company has also launched Common Threads Partnership, an online platform holding auctions to aid in the sales of used Patagonia clothing. In addition, materials used by Patagonia include TENCEL and REFIBRA Lyocell, polyurethane instead of PVC, hemp, advanced denim technology, and YULEX natural rubber.
Pangaia, the loungewear brand is the newest player in the movement using smart technology and sustainable materials. They are known for using organic materials as well as innovative ones like the FLWRDWN Lite—made using wildflowers and is lightweight and breathable. Expanding their environmental portfolio, they have put the transformational technology, AIR-INK to use in their latest capsule collection featuring Naomi Campbell. This process turns air pollution into ink also improving the quality of air surrounding the factories. Pangaia has made its place in the industry by embracing sustainability and innovation without compromising on its designs.
Fashion giants like H&M, Inditex, and Fast Retailing are a part of the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Change driving the industry to achieve a balance between greenhouse gases emitted into and extracted from the atmosphere by 2050. Long-term initiatives by Patagonia, Nike and Pangaia as well as digital initiatives by numerous bodies and social accounts cannot be ignored. The fashion sustainability movement is not just a passing by trend but is here to stay.