When it comes to sustainable fashion it should make you nervous. We need people with platforms like mine to keep us honest. The next time you see a fast-fashion brand selling clothes on the cheap, ask yourself.
Is that shirt tag from H&M that is stating its sustainable? Go a step further and think about what the hell sustainable fashion in 2021 really means?
How can a $3 item be made with sustainability in mind? You are being sold a lie on that tag.
The word eco-friendly and sustainable is been so diluted within the world of fast fashion. We the people have so much power to change the way clothes are made. By questioning the process it took to make.
These liars should be held responsible for making sure the rich fast fashion brands are honest about their sustainable message?
Unclear How To Become A Sustainable Brand
There are brands that intentionally mislead consumers. But the big problem is mostly being caused by brands realizing they have to change. I heard this a lot when at Pitti Immagine in 2019.
In speaking to even big brands with the cash and influence to make that sustainable change.
I was shocked to hear them say, They were not quite knowing how to do it.
“They are scrambling to try to figure out what their strategy is going to be,”
I understand this because how on earth can you compete against Zara the guru of fast fashion. Who has sustainable tags on their recent clothing? But I question what it took to get the clothes made. I very much doubt that they are making clothes to save the environment.
Considering they are churning out new collections every three weeks and selling for cheap prices. Another damaging fast fashion brand is Primark. Who has admitted they too can’t guarantee the production sources they use to make their cheap nasty clothing.
They can’t be sure how there workers are treated in China when making Primark clothes.
China won’t allow officials from other countries to check out the working environment.
Primark when never move their production out of China. It will ruin their business model.
How can Primark make that sustainable difference?
Its structural reasons that play a massive part with brands and manufacturers making the clothes. The vast distances and complex supply chains to get the clothes from door to door needs to be challenged.
Zara to be fair makes most of their clothes in Spain or Morrocco. So delivering around Europe is fast and less taxing on the environment. It’s a good business model that has served them well and made them billions
The damage lies within the manufacturing and the production of raw materials. How do we know as a buyer what sources are being used to get the clothes into sores fast.
It’s the interconnected problems of low price and huge scale in the apparel industry that has damaged our fashion industry and it’s lack of sustainable care.
The big businesses like Primark and Zara are oriented toward making high volumes of clothing selling cheap products that don’t even last a season. You can read my experience on a top I bought in 2020 from Zara proving this.
When sustainable conscious companies have to go up against big brands like H&M and Zara that have been able to monopolize the fast market. It makes it impossible and challenging to be sustainable. It costs more time and money to make clothes green proof.
In Norway, which I have been too and I was impressed with their eco way of living. They were always ahead of the green game, especially within the electric car industry. Already ten years ago. But they came about because of government policies.
It comes to no surprise when I read that the government cracked down on H&M’s Conscious collection for underexplaining how its clothes are actually better for the environment.
I remember seeing their sustainable tags way back in 2019 and was dubious about it. Because it made no sense to me, that selling three pairs of children’s leggings for $3 could mean they were a sustainable fashion-conscious brand.
These fast fashion houses need to be held accountable regarding the labelling of their so-called sustainable tags. Then the change will be forced upon them.
Prove Your Green Claims
For me, when a brand states the cloth is sustainable. They need to always prove that. For example, give five examples of the process used in making denim. How much water are you using to make those denim jackets?
At Pitti Immagine I talked to the Italian brand called GAS. They proved to me they used less water to make their 2021 denim. They made conscious changes to use less water for their denim production.
This is why I like to work with small brands here in Italy for 2021. I can see and experience first hand they’ve built sustainability into their DNA as a fashion brand.
Knitwear using wool is a great example of sustainable fashion.
It’s up to our governments to put in place legalities for big fashion brands to adhere too. Prove their green carbon manufacturing message. What is on the tag must be true.
The biggest lie of them all is that the gap between the shop floor and where the fabric was sourced is too large to prove the honest green footprint message.
Greenwashing Supply Chain
The way forward for greenwashing will be for companies to work toward tracing their supply chain and disclosing their full environmental footprint. Proving this on their social media of the steps taken to create the item.
So the buyers see first hand the entire business, from farm to factory to retail stores how their jeans were made.
I would even go a step further and put the name of the jean to the person who sewed it. Nice personal touch as a reminder to the buyer that someone made that piece of item for you.
Then it’s up to the buyer to decide whether to buy this sustainable item.
I am doing that by buying cashmere clothing made in Europe from an individual designer. I love seeing it first hand how it is manufactured and the staff used to create it. I can see where my cash is going to support sustainable fashion.
New Standard Institute
The New Standard Institute is pushing for big brands to disclose their carbon impact and water and energy usage.
It’s difficult to know which claims to trust when shopping for apparel in the world of fast fashion. Rome was not built overnight and turning back the clock is no easy task. But it can and will happen, it must happen.
It’s down to the government to help put pressure on these big fast fashion brands. I am doing as much as I can by buying fewer clothes and buying from brands I know have an eco-friendly message. And can show me that what is on that tag is true.
For more on an exert sustainable opinion read, Cline is the author of the exposé Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and The Conscious Closet, a guide to “looking good while doing good,”.