The Future Of Fashion Is Sustainability

Fashion has always been at the head of the curve. Often seen as a mirror of society and its ever-changing moods, the fashion industry has been strangely behind on its reaction to the climate catastrophe, held up by the denial and convenience of fast fashion culture. But as the world becomes increasingly concerned with our burning planet and its future, fashion is finally looking internally to fix its many issues.


Fast fashion has completely changed our relationship with clothes, and now our wardrobes are filled with cheap plastic fibers that will most likely be worn only a handful of times before being thrown out. Brands like Zara, Shein and H&M have used social media to create an insatiable desire for newness at an unsustainable rate, with no thought to the environmental strain they’re causing. As long as we have Instagram ads and paid influencers pushing more, more, more on us every time we open the app, we will never progress past throwaway culture.


The fashion industry is said to emit about the same quantity of greenhouse gases per year as the entire economies of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined. The current size and scale of the industry is putting a massive strain on the world’s energy, water and land resources whilst also heavily contributing to landfill and plastic pollution in the meantime.


Fashion itself requires a radical rethinking. In order for fashion to be ethical and responsible, we must discard the endless cycle of overproduction, overconsumption and constant growth and focus on creating a positive impact on people, the planet, and the future.


The issue has become so desperate that consumers are beginning to stand up and take notice. Engagement in sustainable fashion has deepened since the COVID-19 crisis, with European consumers wanting fashion players to act responsibly and consider the social and environmental impacts of their businesses. During the pandemic there was a surge of online support for the #PayUp campaign, naming and shaming the brands that had cancelled already-fufilled factory orders and demanding brands compensate their workers. Ordinary people were demanding change from multi-million dollar companies and it worked - Nike, Zara and Ralph Lauren are among some of the brands that relented and paid out millions.


In the same spirit, governing bodies are beginning to introduce legislation to hold over-polluting companies to account, the most recent example being the New York Fashion Accountability Act, which aims to increase transparency and reduce the overall environmental impact of brands operating in the city. Greenwashing, the act of purposefully misleading consumers with false sustainability claims, is likewise facing a crackdown after years of misuse.


With more people than ever wanting to create a sustainable, meaningful relationship with their wardrobes, now is the time for brands to listen.


For many sustainability is all about taking responsibility, be that as a brand or consumer, and trying to do better. For brands it’s more than just clever marketing, switching to organic cotton fabric or trying out recyclable packaging. It’s an accumulation of many decisions made with the future in mind and a shift to thinking about long-term solutions for the good of everyone.


With overconsumption and throwaway fashion at the heart of the issue, we need to take a more mindful, considered approach with our wardrobes. For brands, this can mean creating a smaller collection, made from better quality, sustainable fabrics and based on what the consumer needs at the time - the antithesis of the fast fashion business model. More and more forward-thinking brands are choosing to adopt made-to-order or degrowth strategies to reduce waste and cater to their audience, and it’s no wonder many are seeing this as a potential solution to fashion’s problems.


Likewise, transparency is also a key milestone toward a sustainable business. Choosing suppliers who are similarly transparent, publishing an impact and sustainability report and taking steps towards being carbon neutral (or better - carbon negative!) wherever possible will all increase much-needed accountability in the industry.


Here at 'My Needs Are Simple' we choose the planet above all else; from our printing process to renewable or carbon offset energy sources, we offer a green solution to businesses looking to make the right choice. Whilst small companies may not have always had the option to choose ethical fashion over affordability, we can offer a solution to ensure sustainability for everyone. For more info, read our story, or contact us.

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