Sustainable Fashion Starts With Ethical & Fair Trade Design: Clothing For A Better Future

Sustainable Fashion Starts With Ethical & Fair Trade Design: Clothing For A Better Future

Sustainable fashion is a growing trend in the industry as consumers become more aware of their footprint and want to make eco-friendly choices.

One way to be sustainable is by buying ethically made products from companies that provide fair wages and safe working conditions for workers. 

This blog post will explore how you can find ethically made clothing and accessories that are fashionable and sustainable. 

The first step is understanding what "ethical" means when it comes to fashion.

Many labels out there claim they're ethical, but not all of them follow through with their promises, so do your research before purchasing anything! This blog post will give you some tips on where you might find ethical clothes.

The fashion industry is responsible for over 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, or about 2% of the world's total greenhouse gas production. 

It takes a lot to produce clothing that is sustainable and ethical. It can be hard to find clothes made with fair trade materials, organic fabrics, recycled materials, etc.

We want you to know that we are working on making it easier for you!

Sustainable fashion is a new trend that is taking over the industry, but what does it mean? Sustainable fashion is a term used to describe clothing that has not been produced using harmful chemicals or processes.

It also includes items that companies make with ethical and fair trade practices. 

The idea of sustainable fashion may seem like an oxymoron because we all want to buy clothes cheaply and quickly.

Still, there are many ways for us to shop ethically without spending too much more on our clothing budget. In this blog post, I will discuss some of my favourite brands with ethical standards and give you tips on how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle in general! 

We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by fashion. From the clothes on our backs to the shoes on our feet, everything about what we wear is an expression of who we are and how we want to look. But with this constant flux of new trends and styles, it can be easy to forget that there's another side of fashion: sustainability. 

We all want to make a difference and do something good for society, but many people don't know where or how they can start. So I'm here today with some tips on how you can find sustainable clothing that fits your style! 

There are many reasons why sustainable fashion is important. For example, it reduces the number of natural resources like water and petroleum that make a garment - which benefits the environment. 

It also has social implications for people who make clothing in developing countries or other regions where workers are treated unfairly. Ethical & fair trade design is an excellent way to ensure your clothes are made with dignity and respect for all involved in their creation process. 

If you're looking for a way to make your clothes last longer and be more sustainable, one of the best ways is to buy ethically sourced clothes. 

Not only will these items last longer because they are designed with less waste in mind, but they will also have been made by people who work in conditions that are fair and humane. This blog post outlines how buying ethical fashion can help you save money as well as the environment. 

Let's get started!

Sustainability In Fashion

Sustainable fashion is created by those designers or brands that follow sustainable practices when producing their collections.

Sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” according to the UN Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development

Therefore, a commitment to sustainability is a commitment to balancing the short and long-term supply and demand of resources. 

In this context, sustainable fashion is the movement and process of creating clothes, shoes, accessories and other textiles through sustainable practices that consider environmental, social and economic implications - also known as the triple bottom line pillars. 

Therefore, sustainable fashion looks beyond product and fabric waste, taking a holistic approach to fashion and its interactions with all other systems - social, cultural, ecological and financial instead.

As such, sustainable fashion considers users and producers and all living species, present and future generations.

Sustainability takes many expressions when it comes to fashion - sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, fair trade fashion, and slow fashion is the most common.

Although they have different meanings, as you'll see below, they are, ultimately, alternatives to the same movement - fast fashion.

Every year, we discard so many clothes that not even charities and thrift stores know what to do with them. From an environmental point of view, fast fashion, which encourages a throwaway mentality, is very unsustainable. 

Why Is Sustainability Important In Fashion Design?

Fashion is one of the biggest industries worldwide, accounting for about 2% of the global GDP.

As it is still a growing industry, it's important to minimise its negative impact on the environment. 

There are many production processes, such as fabric dyeing, which are very toxic to the environment.

According to B2C, the fashion and textile industry is one of China's top 3 water-wasting industries, discharging over 2.5 billion tons of wastewater every year. 

In fact, it’s the second most polluting industry in the world -- right after oil --.making it imperative to be aware of the implications and choose eco-friendly alternatives. 

Other prominent issues regarding the safety of workers involved in making garments are because the true cost of fast fashion, when not paid by the end consumer, will most likely be paid by the workers.

The only way fast fashion can be so affordable is through cheap labour, which can be detrimental to the workers themselves and the development of their communities. 

Incidents such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh have shaken up the industry, determining more companies to contribute to their workers’ safety or otherwise make changes in their supply chain.

How Can Fashion Become More Sustainable?

At the moment, only a few communities have textile recycling programs. This means that about 85% of textile waste goes to landfills, occupying about 5% of the space.

However, since 95% of post-consumer textiles are, in fact, recyclable, there should be enough reason to take action in this direction.  

But, before even reaching the end of a garment's useful life, other methods can help the fashion industry become more sustainable.

For example, initiatives like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and other forums such as the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin or the Copenhagen Fashion Summit provide platforms for innovation and exchanging good practices among green fashion designers. 

Sustainability cannot start at the end of a garment's life cycle but must be applied at every step of the design process.

The best green and sustainable fashion companies pursue this goal from the very beginning. Designs made from long-lasting, ethical fabrics encourage longer use and challenge the throwaway mentality stimulated by fast fashion.

Creating Sustainable Clothing

As mentioned above, sustainable and ethical clothing, also known as ethical clothing, is environmentally, socially and economically responsible.

This concept of the 'triple bottom line' reveals how you can approach sustainability from a creator's point of view but also from a consumer perspective.  

1. The Triple Bottom Line: What Does ‘Sustainable Clothing’ Mean?

To contribute to the well-being of our planet, sustainable clothing produced fashion is therefore made from environmentally-friendly fabrics (such as sustainably grown fibre crops or recycled materials), uses natural resources efficiently and carefully, and opts for renewable energy resources when it's possible.

Its main goal is to minimise waste throughout the supply chain via various forms of recycling.

In addition, sustainable and ethical clothing companies assume a role in defending workers' rights involved in their production process (social pillar).  

Sustainable clothing also carries a fair price. Unfortunately, economic sustainability is not often discussed concerning the final product.

Still, for a business, it means that it can offer 'quality products or services that meet market needs and demands and are fairly marketed' (EFF).

2. Move Toward Sustainability: Forms Of Sustainable Fashion

Looking closely at sustainable fashion, you can notice that there are many ways both companies and consumers can move toward more ethical clothing production and consumption.

Green Strategy has identified seven sustainable approaches, as follows:

  • On-demand & Custom-made (such as those made-to-order, tailored, DIY, etc.)
  • Green & Clean (having an eco-friendly approach in all stages of the product’s life cycle)
  • High-quality & Timeless design
  • Fair & Ethical
  • Repair, Redesign & Upcycle (to prolong the garment’s life)
  • Rent, Lease & Swap (including donating to charities, giving them to relatives or acquaintances, etc.)
  • Secondhand & Vintage

As a fashion brand that cares about its impact on the environment, this is how some brands approach sustainability:

3. Sourcing Environmentally-Friendly Textiles

Some brands create avant-garde men's and women's garments clothing from ethically produced textiles sourced worldwide, as we look for the best options that can turn into sustainable clothing. 

They strive to work with suppliers who respect the EU legislation standards and source a range of materials approved by Oeko-Tex®. These are tested for harmful substances for both health and environmental reasons.

4. Recycling Fabric And Other Product Components

Some of the garments that are not distributed before the launch of a new collection are upcycled and turned into new, limited-edition of one-of-a-kind designs. 

In addition, through fabric treatments, new cuts and creative outbursts (paint interventions), old stock and textile waste are transformed into Limited In-house Produced items.

They have a zero-waste approach to garment production and seek to minimise waste in all our processes. 

5. Implementing Industry Standards

As sustainable fashion industry initiatives are still in their early years, we aim to implement them at the highest standard aligned with international codes of conduct to protect our customers' interests and determine more clothing producers to adopt them. 

As such, we urge our suppliers to use RSL testing (control of reduced chemical waste) and reduce water usage and wastage while producing designs. 

Additionally, they take pride in rating the collections according to the SAC's HIGG Index, focusing on three pillars that sustain their approach: recycling, upcycling and byproducts. 

6. Defending Workers’ Rights

The commitment to creating sustainable and ethical clothing fashion also includes the social aspects of the production processes and store concepts.

They aim to work only with suppliers that operate ethically, and we visit production facilities on location every year. 

The suppliers must comply with their national employment laws and regulations, with particular regard to:

  • Minimum age of employment
  • Freely chosen employment
  • Terms of employment: rates of pay, working hours, health and safety
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
  • No discrimination
  • No harsh or inhumane treatment

There are many ways to go about sustainability for fashion labels and consumers alike, from sourcing to wearing. 

To encourage the production of sustainable garments, the most important things you can do are prolong the life of your clothes by recycling them, visiting ethical clothing stores, and buying fewer, higher quality, longer-lasting products.

Designing Sustainable Clothing

As sustainability takes more and more meaning, young and established designers find new ways of approaching it.

Initiatives go beyond production, distribution, marketing, and recycling practices and seek to revolutionise how we buy and use clothes and for how long.

To change clothing consumption patterns and use from the very core, a fundamental change needs to occur.

This is rooted in the design process. Some approach clothing design with sustainability and ethics in mind, striving to lengthen the life of a garment through careful design decisions. 

1. Multi ways Clothing Designs

OneI’s avant-garde #multiway clothing designs are conceived to be used in many possible styling combinations. 

You are likely to use a versatile piece of clothing more often than other items in your wardrobe.

But, at the same time, being able to personalise it to your own taste and create something unique every time you put it on leads to a special bond between you and that garment.

2. Timeless Pieces Of Clothing Over Trends That Come And Go

The approach to garment design rejects the concept of seasonal fashion trends. Unfortunately, this idea is highly exploited by fast fashion manufacturers, who use it to sell more and more clothes every year.

The avant-garde attitude to trends goes against the simple pattern of inventing and discarding styles and instead focuses on continual growth and renewal.

The Avant-Garde Wardrobing Concept

Some brands' clothes are part of numerically ordered collections and are created to fit items from future and past seasons for a more cohesive wardrobe. 

Great fashion design is independent of temporary fads, can be worn across decades, and becomes perennial by its quality and adaptability.

Ethical & Fair Trade Fashion

The Fairtrade aspect of fashion production is focused rather on meeting ethical requirements regarding the rights and working conditions of the labourers employed by clothing manufacturers. 

Therefore, fair trade clothing is clothing that was manufactured according to ethical trade standards and was acknowledged and certified by independent organisations for it. 

Fairtrade in general - the fashion industry included - aims to support manufacturers in underdeveloped countries to get fair prices and proper workers' rights while promoting sustainability. 

As such, the fair trade movement stresses out the importance of protecting the environment by pushing producers - locals and otherwise - to adhere to sustainable and ethical practices such as water conservation, prohibiting genetically modified organisms, making sure waste is properly disposed of, encouraging biodiversity and restricting various chemicals.

The ethical side of creating clothes is an alternative approach to how clothing is made, from design to manufacturing, distribution and purchasing.

It focuses on ethical practices that ensure proper working conditions such as how labourers are treated and paid, sustainable production like how the cotton was grown and the resources it needed, safety at work (aims to ban child labour, sweatshops, worker abuse, slavery), fair trade, environment conservation and animal welfare.

In short, it's a mix of fair trade and sustainable fashion.

Initiatives To Dressing More Sustainably

If you want to be a part of the cause of sustainability in the fashion industry, it’s important to educate yourself to buy less and buy better. 

Figuring out how to buy ethical clothing is easy, and nowadays, many sustainable and eco-friendly fashion lines offer quality garments at accessible prices.

However, even if you find them expensive, consider that they'll likely last longer, and in the long run, it may cost you more if you spend less money but more often. 

Here are some ways we take to improve wardrobe sustainability:

1. Opt For Minimum Waste Fashion

More and more people adopt a no-waste lifestyle, and zero-waste clothes are an important part of that ethos.

Make sure you understand how your clothes are produced and choose garments made from recycled textiles whenever possible. 

To lower your carbon footprint, even more, you can upcycle your own clothes, shop vintage and organise clothes swaps with friends. 

Sustainable Clothing Brands

1. ASKET womenswear launch

Responsible fashion label ASKET is perfecting one garment at a time, throwing out all the unnecessary fuss and focussing on what matters: quality and fit. 

This week, the first three garments of its permanent womenswear collection launched: the white T-shirt, the white Shirt and the Standard Jeans. Each piece joining the permanent collection is 100% traceable and created to last and designed to fit - with 54 sizes in the denim.

2. Anny Nord

All of Anny Nord's gorgeous shoes (based on a clean Scandi aesthetic) originate from the brand's design studio outside the coastal town of Båstad in Sweden.

The brand believes in quality over quantity, and to slow things down, we only present two collections per year.

Production is kept as close to home as possible to keep transports shorter and, in turn, the CO2 footprint smaller.

It works closely with a few quality factories in Portugal and Spain, where shoe-making is a handcraft, and good and ethical working conditions are a given.

All plastic packaging has been removed. The label works with premium leathers from Leather Working Group (LWG) audited members within Europe to ensure a supply chain of superior environmental performance.

3. EVARAE

Evarae ensures a fully transparent supply chain of materials and production. Consciously choose materials that are made through more sustainable processes that lower their environmental impact. 

95% of swimwear is made from the regenerative fabric ECONYL®, while ready to wear is crafted in 100% earth-friendly fibres. In addition, RTW pieces are produced in small production runs, cutting down on waste and minimising our environmental impact.

It has a small family-run atelier in Rimini, Italy, with over 20 years of experience producing swimwear. As a result, It can guarantee the safety & job security of those involved in creating its garments.

4. Hunza G

Hunza G’s production process begins and ends locally in the UK, amidst a small group of individuals passionate about quality knit fabrics and considered swimwear construction. 

The crinkle fabric is knitted in a local mill in the Midlands, then processed and dried before being sent to their Central London studio. Each garment is cut and made, limiting any possible unnecessary fabric consumption. 

They also resourcefully produce small run-off quantities of headbands and scrunchies with small cuttings of excess fabric – reducing wastage and providing a long-lasting alternative.

5. Bogdar

Created and led by couple Pavel and Teodora Lozanov, Bogdar expands on its family's fashion legacy in Bulgaria – a country with a rich history in clothes manufacturing. 

However, it remains true to its roots with 100% of Bogdar pieces produced in their family-owned facility in Vidin, Bulgaria, with a hand-picked team of just 16 members while building on and contributing to the emerging style of the New East.

6. ATOMY

This leather handbag brand bases its concept on lean manufacturing to deliver the highest quality products, using the easiest way and respecting the employees. Its production is based on local crafts and uses only the services of regional producers and suppliers, meaningless exhaust fumes and CO2 released to the air.

For its upcoming collection, the brand will switch to vegan leather and Apple Peel Skin.

7. OMNES

OMNES means all, with the brand's ethos being that we are all in this together. The brand is aware that fashion is one of the worst polluters, so designers think of designers and fabrics that you will wear as long as possible, even when sketching clothes. 

It also uses offcuts in accessories to minimise waste and audits its factories in Romania, India and London to make sure they comply with Health and Safety, Environment, Business Ethics and Labour Standards.

8. 1 People

1 People, a revolutionary Danish apparel and lifestyle brand that is globally expanding with a mindset to introduce a new meaning of sustainable luxury. Have now launched the Minimalist Edit - your solution for sustainability. 

1 People have curated a variety of effortless luxurious looks, so you can be confident that you are consciously styling yourself in a timeless, ethical, high-quality fashion. Minimalism is at the heart of the brand. 

In their Danish DNA, that is why the Ready To Wear Edit pays attention to detail, offering ten simplistic and versatile designs that can be styled up to 30 diversified looks.

This collection, along with every 1 People product sold, will benefit charity Business For Planet and its efforts to support the education of the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

9. Cult Mia

Launched in 2019, Cult Mia has quickly become the leading fashion e-commerce platform for designer discovery.

Having gained recognition from tastemakers around the globe, Cult Mia introduces small and emerging brands that you haven't heard of yet but probably should have.

To celebrate its first anniversary, it is spotlighting ten special brands, including the likes of Janashia from Tbilisi, ESSĒN from Melbourne, and VienSo from London.

10. Mother of Pearl

This contemporary sustainable womenswear brand celebrates individuality, authenticity and sustainability.

In just 13 years, Amy Powney has gone from sweeping the cutting-room floor at Mother of Pearl to taking the helm as its Creative Director. 

Sustainability has been a life-long passion for Amy, and she's been on a mission for Mother of Pearl to reduce its impact on the planet. Clothes are made from organic and natural materials, with a transparent supply chain, putting social responsibility, respect to animals and low-environmental impact first and foremost. 

Their website is set up to see the sustainable attributes of each piece, allowing you to see what we have achieved garment-by-garment.

Closing Thoughts

Sustainable fashion is not just a trend but a holistic approach to fashion that starts with the design and carries on through all the sourcing and manufacturing processes steps. 

Fashion can only become truly ethical when it maximises benefits to people and communities involved in making it while minimising its own impact on the environment.

Sustainability is at the core of a brand, and it constantly informs our approach to design. We wish to create a product that respects the planet and the rights of everyone involved in its making. 

As reputable and trusted businesses committed to offering high-quality products to their customers, they recognise their obligation to ensure that the suppliers operate ethically. Therefore, they expect the suppliers to consistently provide an environment that protects their employees' health, safety, and basic human rights.

Since consumers are the ones who power the fashion industry, the most effective way they can push for a more sustainable future is by transforming their consumption habits. This means adopting a mindful approach that looks beyond instant gratification and towards long-term impact. 

If you find that your fashion tastes are as progressive as your consumer philosophy, have a look at some sustainable avant-garde clothing collections and get inspired by some cutting-edge designs. 

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