Can you be trendy AND sustainable?

April 3, 2019

One of the most pressing questions in today’s fashion world is: can you be trendy AND sustainable at the same time? 
As you know, sustainable, eco-friendly and ethically-made clothes usually cost more than fast fashion brands. You can be sure that any brand selling very cheap garments must have cut the costs somewhere in its production. So does that mean that you have to spend a fortune to enjoy following the new trends that come up with every new season? Or maybe you need to give up trends? Or worse, you have to stop shopping?

Luckily, there are more and more labels making ethical and sustainable fashion that is also affordable, so that you don’t have to give up looking on-trend. Even high street fast fashion brands are already looking into this matter. H&M, for example, offers a garment collecting initiative to recycle your old clothes in exchange for a voucher or 15% off your next purchase. Increasing the consumers’ awareness of unnecessary waste is excellent, and collecting and recycling old clothes is the first step in the direction of the ideal full closed-loop recycling. Some brands are promising they will soon be able to use only 100%recycled material; others already have an ethical mission like ensuring decent working conditions and fair wages to their workers.

Fashion for peace

In February 2019, at the New York Fashion Week, the event Fashion For Peace – Eyes of India, Eyes of New York, was presented for the first time with the mission to promote conscious and sustainable design. India was represented by the best selling author Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who invokes the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi against violence. In this case, it means the violence of our greed to have more and sell more, even if we put the life of others and nature in danger. The author talked about the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh, India, which killed 1.134 workers, and the fact that by 2025, it is estimated that 98 per cent of the fibre on the planet will be synthetic fibre.

Food for thought

1- The textile and fashion industry is, second to the oil industry, the more massive polluter in the world.
2- To manufacture a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, you need more than 5.000 gallons of water. 
3- The U.S.A. alone, produces each year more than 15 million tons of used textile waste, and in Hong Kong, 253 tons of textile end up in landfills each and every day.
4- If you were to wear your clothes for just three more months, you would reduce five to ten per cent of their carbon and water footprints and waste generation.

Changes we can make 

If we, as consumers, start changing our shopping habits, we will force governments, brands and manufacturers to take the urgent steps needed to solve or at least, minimise the damages fast-fashion causes on the environment and the people in the global fashion supply chain.

1- Buy less, you don’t need ten pairs of jeans.
2- Buy better and buy local; pay a little more for quality and longer-lasting pieces.
3- Take good care of your clothes, they will last longer.
4- Fashion is cyclic, do not throw away your old shirt yet, it will become trendy soon again.
5- Avoid trends that you know are harming the world, for example, plastic.
6- Get creative, update what you already have, find new ways to wear it adding cool accessories.
7- Buy vintage and second-hand clothes.

Donna Karan and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at Fashion For Peace