I am a vegetarian, have been for as long as I can remember and I also work in an environmental control company during the day. So, I’ve begun to wonder why haven’t I taken the time or consideration to think about other aspects of my life that aren’t good for animals, the environment or us as beings. Laziness perhaps, or maybe I’m just purely un-educated on these matters. So, I decided to explore these matters more, starting with sustainable fashion, I saw a statement on Twitter by @LeighTravers when she wrote a Twitter thread on sustainable brands that had Black Friday sales – I was curious to find out more, I’d not really heard or thought about this term before.
What is sustainable Fashion?
A Wikipedia excerpt; “Sustainable fashion, also called eco fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. It can be seen as an alternative trend against fast fashion.”
Breaking it down, sustainable fashion, in my opinion, is against fast fashion. Think of how many items are made daily, out of cheap material to make it a bargain price for you. You may wear it a handful of times before it has flaws, then what do you do with it? Sustainable fashion is thinking about how the product you are buying was made and out of what. Did you know that most fast fashion pieces are made out of man-made cotton, which is full out of insecticides? Yeah, that stuff that is harmful to “pests” we cling that stuff to our skin daily!
There are things happening to combat this and ways you can be a supporter of the sustainable fashion industry – The easiest way is to support brands that use organic cotton, recycled wool, naturally processed wool and recycled polyester.
To find out a little more on the subject and just how much brands care about sustainable fashion, I asked a couple of question to Tom Lovelace who is founder & chief creative officer for Hawthorn in London.
How would you describe sustainable fashion to a person who’s not heard of this term or uneducated on the meaning?
Sustainable fashion is just what it says on the tin; it’s the process of making the fashion industry sustainable without causing negative effects to the environment along the way. For many years the industry has damaged the environment because of practices which have become commonplace; using polyester in garments, for example, is very damaging because it’s created using fossil fuels. Sustainable fashion is the term used to describe fashion production which goes against all of that which has, unfortunately, become the norm.
What percentage of “brands/companies” who contact you, are looking for sustainable fashion?
At the moment, about 30% of the brands we work with have an element of sustainability to their brand through the fabrics they use in either all or some of their collections. Of those brands, around 20% contacted us with a clear vision and knowing that they wanted to go down the sustainable route, but the other 10% only really thought about it once we introduced them to the fabrics as an alternative. Because additional the cost for sustainable fabrics is only relatively small, some brands opted to go for them just on the basis that it’s better for the environment.
What impact does fast fashion have on the environment and how can sustainable fashion improve this?
Fast fashion came about in the 90’s as a way for large retailers to keep up with the ever-changing trends in the industry, however, it unfortunately, came at a cost. There is only so much farmland in the world where cotton can be grown, for example. This was and has been over farmed since, with farmers using pesticides and other toxic chemicals to maximise their crops. This inevitably damaged the environment and the water systems locally, and this is what sustainable fashion looks to combat. Growing cotton for example in a way which doesn’t use these toxic chemicals, creating organic cotton, much like you get organic food, helps the environment in the local area.
How important is it to Hawthorn’s to create sustainable fashion, or is it something you would like to get more involved in?
We believe that we’re at the forefront of the movement for sustainable fashion. Being a manufacturer working with mainly startups, we deal with many new brands who are either looking for a place in the market or to create something really unique. Before we could offer sustainable fabrics, these brands had no choice, however now they have the choice to make a difference to the world through their fashion. Not only does that work out well for the environment, but consumers love it also and are generally happy to pay a little more something which is sustainable. It makes us proud to be able to offer these fabrics to our customers and to make a difference to the industry, one brand at a time.
How can my readers and I, help make sustainable fashion more accessible and commonly known?
Purely and simply by buying sustainable fashion! Because of the supply and demand nature of the industry, brands will react to consumer trends and if there are trends for sustainable clothing they will respond by releasing more ranges made from fabrics like organic cotton which would have otherwise been traditionally farmed. As this snowballs, there will be a great impact on the environment as a result.
I found a piece by Huffington post on What Is Sustainable Fashion And How To Get Started – Read that here
I will most definitely be questioning my fast fashion purchases from now on! – I won’t promise that I will only buy sustainable pieces but I will certainly pay more attention to the labels – What makes up my new coat, and cost per wear, does it make sense to invest a bit extra in a piece I will wear lots?!