The Ultimate Guide To Sustainable Fashion

Our lives now include a significant amount of fashion. Fashion trends have an impact on everything, including the clothes we wear and the footwear we wear.

Although a lot of people believe that fashion can be damaging and unfriendly to the environment, there are ways to dress responsibly!

For advice on how to enjoy your closet while simultaneously being environmentally conscious, continue reading.

Is it time to begin planning your upcoming event? Are you trying to find a more sustainable way of living?

We have put together the most comprehensive list of sustainable fashion companies so you can look great and do your part for the environment.

 

What Is Sustainable And Ethical Fashion?

These days, as we all become more aware of the serious environmental impact of our clothing—the industry is responsible for a startling four to ten percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions each year—sustainable fashion is a term that is being used more and more (and overused, frequently without much to support it).

But what exactly does "sustainable fashion" mean?

In a nutshell, it's a term that refers to clothing that is made and worn in a way that can physically be sustained while safeguarding the environment and those who make clothing.

Therefore, lowering CO2 emissions, dealing with overproduction, cutting waste and pollution, promoting biodiversity, and making sure that garment workers are paid fairly and have safe working conditions are all essential to the sustainability matrix.

Given the complexity of the challenges, there are still too few brands addressing them at the moment, and even those that do acknowledge that there is always space for improvement.

This means that buying products with the label "sustainable" is not enough; we also need to change the way we consume clothing.

Let's start with Wikipedia's generally accepted definition of sustainable fashion, which reads, "Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion goods and the fashion sector towards better ecological integrity and social justice."

Fundamentally, ethical and sustainable fashion refers to a method for acquiring, producing, and designing clothing that maximises gains for the market and society and minimises negative effects on the environment.

Although the two have a similar mindset, they each have slightly different issues that should be given equal priority.

To us, sustainable fashion primarily refers to environmental concerns:

  • How textiles are created (e.g. avoiding the use of pesticides and insecticides by using organic methods)
  • What substances are utilised (e.g. hemp vs nylon)
  • What criteria are used (e.g. GOTS or Fair Trade which affects the sustainability of local communities who are involved in the production and manufacture of the textiles)
  • The degree of recycling and upcycling of the resources.
  • What materials are utilised to package the textiles and whether recycled or recyclable materials are used
  • Whether or whether they employ any energy-saving techniques
  • How pollutants and garbage are handled and treated
  • How they make an effort to make up for any environmental harm

    The moral side of the fashion industry is addressed by ethical fashion, including animal rights, human rights, inclusivity, and supply chain transparency. "Who Made My Clothes?" it wonders. and inquiries like:

    • Where are fabrics produced?
    • How much money did the employees receive for producing the clothes and growing the crops?
    • Do they have suitable working conditions?
    • How are they treated by their employers?
    • Are Fair Trade programmes and policies carried out?
    • Do they use animal products, and if so, how are the producers or their suppliers treating the animals (silk and wool, for example)?
    • Are their messages inclusive and varied, and how big are they?
    • Are their fair labour practises and factory locations made public?
    • How open and honest are they about other elements of their supply chain?

      Fashion that adheres to ethical standards also considers who it might benefit rather than just who it might potentially damage.

      In particular, do brands look out for themselves or do they give to charity?

      • Do they support charities and do they have any charitable programmes or policies?
      • Do they lend a hand to the neighbourhood?

        Now that the definitions of these terms have at least been somewhat clarified, let's discuss how to determine whether a brand adheres to these standards for ethical and sustainable fashion.

        What To Consider When Looking For Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Brands

        The terms "sustainable fashion" and "ethical fashion," like "natural" and "organic" in the food and cosmetics industries, are not clearly defined.

        On the one hand, this is advantageous because these ideas are constantly changing and subject to improvement based on requirements and ideologies of the present. This is particularly true for the concept of "ethics," which is by definition subjective.

        On the other hand, some contend that, in the absence of a defined definition, brands and businesses are allowed to make claims about sustainability and ethics based on dubious or deceptive audits and standards.

        These phrases are largely just marketing platitudes meant to give the situation a more positive spin.

        It's up to us as customers to create a practical grasp of what kinds of things comprise sustainable fashion brands since the fashion police don't want to police fashion where it matters.

        Of course, complex supply chains and the subjective nature of ethics itself do not have simple solutions.

        Look For Sustainable Materials

        Pick clothing produced with eco-friendly materials and textiles.

        This is one of the most crucial sustainability criteria and a major area for greenwashing in the business world.

        Companies could, for instance, assert that a garment is compostable even though, according to certification criteria, it cannot decompose in a home composter.

        It's crucial to keep in mind that biodegradable does not always equate to compostable in this context.

        When considering the choice of fabric, consumers should be aware that certain businesses may advertise their fabrics as ecological and biodegradable while actually treating them with chemical colours that would contaminate any areas where they biodegrade.

        Let's start by examining the various fibres that are utilised in the production of sustainable clothing. Given current technological advancements, fibres that are:

        • natural (cellulosic)
        • organically farmed
        • harvested in the fairest way possible
        • fit for purpose (e.g. nice to wear)
        • 100% compostable

        In light of this, these are the eco-friendly materials (not all of them meet the above ambition). Basically, there are three types of sustainable fibres: natural, processed natural, and recycled synthetics.

        1. Natural Fibers (Cellulosic Fibers)

        These are exactly what they sound like—natural fibres that have undergone little processing, such as cotton (although we have already discussed in this article why we haven't included traditionally cultivated cotton on this list).

        Instead, we only want naturally grown fibres that have been certified organically, thus it's critical to check for these. The most significant and widespread certifications are:

        • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): Upholds strong ecological and ethical standards for fibre production, requiring that all products be made 100% biologically from seed to shelf.

        This implies that no chemicals, pesticides, fertilisers, or even machine harvesting are allowed at any point in the manufacturing process from packaging to labelling.

        • Oeko-Tex 100: Ensures that dangerous substances, such as heavy metals, colourants, preservatives, and formaldehyde, are not present in the fabrics or the equipment used to prepare them. It also maintains a pH that is good for skin.

        Be cautious since this certification can apply to either raw or finished goods, not necessarily both, as we'll see in a moment. This opens the door for greenwashing if we're not careful.

        • USDA-Certified Organic: This accreditation solely covers the level of raw materials. Nothing more than the fact that anything was produced using organic crops with USDA certification is included in the statement.
        • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): Ensures that plants are taken from sustainably managed forests using ethical practises. Due to careful management of the location of sourcing, this reduces the risk of deforestation and the endangerment of species and ecosystems.
        • Bluesign: Focuses on environmentally sound, healthy production practises. It takes into consideration both worker and customer exposure to chemicals, dye toxicity, and water conservation.
        • Better Cotton Standard: The largest cotton sustainability initiative in the world is called the Better Cotton Initiative.  

        This certification is given in accordance with seven social and economic sustainability principles, including the reduction of harmful crop protection (such as pesticides), water stewardship, soil health, biodiversity preservation, fibre quality, promotion of decent work for employees, and efficient management.

        The following are the largest certification bodies for sustainable fabrics (but there are a few more specialised ones, which we'll mention below with the relevant fabrics):

        Organic Cotton: Without using pesticides or artificial fertilisers, cotton is produced and processed.

        The use of organic cotton certificates also guarantees that cotton growers receive fair treatment, payment, and working conditions. In comparison to conventional cotton, organic cotton growing uses 88% less water and 62% less energy.

        • Certifications: Better Cotton Standard, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex 100, Bluesign, USDA-Certified Organic

        Recycled Cotton: Cotton that has been recycled from post-industrial (fabric remnants from production) or post-consumer (discarded clothing) waste.

        Because it uses waste that would have otherwise gone to a landfill, recycled cotton is environmentally friendly.

        It's unsustainable in that it's virtually hard to control, identify, or pinpoint the different varieties of cotton that went into making it, let alone how any of that cotton was grown.

        We just don't know what constitutes organic cotton, so there is no method to certify recycled cotton. It can only be certified by Oeko-Tex 100, which checks the finished product for chemicals.

        • Certifications: Oeko-Tex 100

        Organic Hemp: One of the most environmentally friendly fabrics and one of the oldest types of fibre.

        In addition to transforming into sustainable fabric, it uses 50%+ less water and no pesticides than even organic cotton.

        Additionally, it is quite practical due to its great temperature management abilities in both hot and cold regions, as well as its built-in UV protection. Additionally, hemp may be produced responsibly into fabric.

        • Certifications: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex 100, Bluesign, USDA-Certified Organic

        Organic-Linen: Similar to hemp in terms of environmentally friendly production, fabric composition, and growth, linen is produced from the flax plant.

        • Certifications: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex 100, Bluesign, USDA-Certified Organic

        Organic bamboo, often known as bamboo linen, is bamboo that has not been treated. Since it can be collected without destroying the main plant, bamboo is one of the fastest-renewing plants on the planet.

        Additionally, it grows with no artificial irrigation and absorbs more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees.

        Similar to other varieties of linen (such hemp or flax as mentioned above), bamboo linen is produced primarily mechanically.

        This particular bamboo fabric has a rougher texture. i.e. not the super-soft bamboo that, sadly, you have undoubtedly grown to find to be quite lovely and uncommon.

        Therefore, it's doubtful that you'll use this cloth frequently.

        Bamboo must be handled with caution since, depending on how it is used to make fabric, it can either be one of the most or least sustainable fibres.

        The following section on processed natural fibres, which includes the far more popular varieties of bamboo fabric (Rayon/Viscose and Lyocell), will cover this topic in much more detail.

        • Certifications for Organic Bamboo in raw form: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex 100, Bluesign, USDA-Certified Organic

        Protein fibres: All of these fibres come from animals, so they are not vegan. They include down, silk, angora, alpaca, llama, cashmere, mohair, camel, and vicuna. They also include ethical leather and ethical wool.

        • Certifications: Leather Working Group, Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), Climate Beneficial by Fibershed (usually for wool)

        Pros of natural fibres

        • They don't contain any plastic when they're unblended.
        • It ought to be compostable after use.
        • Finding quality solutions is made simpler by the abundance of certifying bodies.

          Cons of natural fibres

          • The ethical treatment of animals might be a significant issue when it comes to protein fibres.
          • Some plants need a lot of water to grow (linen, hemp, and bamboo being the primary exceptions)
          • Heavy chemical fertilisers are utilised (if not organic)
          • Concerns about sustainable harvesting and deforestation (especially in China for non-organic bamboo farms)
          • For their flexibility and moisture-wicking properties, they are frequently combined with synthetic fibres, yet they are nevertheless advertised as natural.

            2. Processed Natural Fibers (Processed Cellulosic Fibers)

            These have natural fibre bases that have been transformed into various fabric varieties. These consist of:

            TENCEL

            TENCEL Lyocell: Lyocell, sometimes referred to by its brand name TENCEL (it is produced under licence by Austrian Lenzing Industry), transforms wood pulp into a fibre that may be used to make fabric.

            Instead of sulfuric acid, the closed-loop solvent spinning manufacturing method uses non-toxic cellulose solvents (such amine-oxide).

            99% of the chemicals and all the water can be collected and used repeatedly for the same operation.

            The majority of TENCEL fibres' marketing claimed that they were made from eucalyptus, however they currently seem to be made from a variety of wood pulp from sustainably managed sources.

            The fact that "TENCELTM standard Lyocell and Modal fibre types have been certified by the Belgian certification company Vinçotte as biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil, and marine conditions, thus they can fully revert back to nature," as stated by TENCEL, is what we really like about these fibres.

            • Certifications: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

            TENCEL Modal: Tencel Modal, which is also produced by Lenzine and frequently confused with Lyocell because it was Lyocell's predecessor, is formed from the beech tree's wood pulp.

            Although the procedure differs slightly from Lyocell's, it is still closed-loop and results in a soft fabric (if only a bit thinner and lighter).

            • Certifications: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

            BAMBOO

            Bamboo: Before we get into the specifics, here is a brief overview of bamboo fabrics, which exist in three forms and have varying sustainability qualities. This is because the bamboo sector is very confusing and offers plenty of room for greenwashing.

            • Ultra natural/raw form Bamboo Linen (as mentioned above): Sadly, this rougher fabric is not used very often, although it may be created responsibly utilising a mechanical and organic technique.
            • Bamboo Viscose/Rayon: Bamboo cloth is most frequently found in this smooth, silky condition. made with toxic chemicals and energy after being processed from bamboo fibre. Not regarded as sustainable
            • Bamboo Lyocell: Silky and supple as well. Additionally produced using a chemical process, but in a closed-loop system that allows the chemicals to be recycled repeatedly. sustainable compared to viscose/rayon

            This is the greatest guide to Bamboo that we have seen, and the following essential points elaborate on what was just said:

            Bamboo Viscose / Rayon

            Unfortunately, a significant number of "bamboo fabrics" are made of bamboo rayon, which is not a sustainable material.

            Bamboo is converted into rayon viscose using a significant quantity of water and harmful chemicals (such as sodium hydroxide, carbon disulphide, and sulfuric acid), which poses a serious health risk to the people who handle these materials in addition to having a negative impact on the environment.

            This variety of bamboo "has generally been dismissed as an alternative source that is [environment friendly]." The fabric Bamboo Rayon is not GOTS-certified.

            There is a lot of possibility for greenwashing in this. Of fact, many businesses will assert that their goods are simply bamboo, as opposed to bamboo rayon. Say bamboo-zled if you can.

            In order to avoid greenwashing, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US now mandates that businesses utilising bamboo rayon actually state on the label "rayon made from bamboo."

            It is best to stay away from all rayon, including bamboo rayon/viscose.

            Bamboo Lyocell

            Similar to TENCEL, Bamboo Lyocell is produced in a closed-loop system with less hazardous ingredients.

            This indicates that workers and the environment are not exposed while the chemicals are utilised frequently.

            We're still perplexed by this one because it appears that numerous sustainable firms are employing bamboo lyocell that has been certified as "sustainable."

            In contrast to TENCEL Lyocell, where it is abundantly evident that sustainability has been considered in product design, we were unable to locate any providers that appeared to produce sustainable lyocell (e.g. FSC certified wood sources).

            We eventually discovered Ettitude, a bedding company that uses the CleanBambooTM technique, and Monocel®, despite the fact that they maintain a low profile and don't have much information online.

            We suggest getting in touch with the brand to learn more about their sustainability measures before purchasing bamboo lyocell items.

            • Certifications for Organic Bamboo in raw form: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Oeko-Tex 100, Bluesign, USDA-Certified Organic

            3. OTHERS

            • SCOBY: This one may be known to kombucha drinkers. This delightful probiotic beverage is made with live microorganisms that can be dried and made into a leather-like material.
            • QMilk: It is not vegan-friendly since it contains casein, a milk protein. It resulted in a smooth fabric that is hydrophobic and naturally antimicrobial.

            They self-identify as the "material of the future" and claim that it is 100% biodegradable, thermo-bondable (meaning it can be bonded with heat rather than harsh chemicals).

            • S.Cafe: Made by creating yarn from pulverised coffee beans. The cloth dries 200% faster than cotton and offers natural UV protection. The conversion process uses extremely little energy. The one drawback (or advantage, depending on how you look at it) is that it always has a faint coffee aroma.
            • Qmonos: This innovative Japanese fabric, which is still in testing mode, is a vegan silk substitute manufactured from synthetic spider silk, and it may be the strangest option here.

            This was accomplished by Spiber Inc using non-chemical microbial fermentation and biotechnology. A little futuristic

            • Pinatex: Banana leaf-based leather alternative that is strong and suitable for vegans. It gives the leftover leaves, which ordinarily have no further use, a purpose. Additionally, no harsh chemicals are used in the creation of decortication.

            If it weren't currently commonly covered with polymers that are not biodegradable, it would be completely compostable and often coupled with PLA made from wood.

            We believe that as technology matures, it will eventually become a fully compostable alternative.

            Pros of processed natural fibres

            • Very supple and adaptable textiles that more closely resemble the capabilities of petroleum-based synthetics
            • Usually still biodegradable after its useful life

            Cons of processed natural fibres

            • Greenwashing can be a concern with some fabrics because, in some instances, harsh chemicals and plasticizers are employed to turn unprocessed natural materials into usable fibres.
            • Concerns regarding the environment and human rights that have arisen as a result of exposure to these chemicals and factory discharge
            • There is a lot of room for greenwashing given the perplexing processing techniques.

              4. Recycled Synthetic Fabrics

              The waste-to-wardrobe industry is experiencing some wacky inventions.

              These are made of synthetic fibres that have been recycled and often have a petroleum plastic foundation (i.e. polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, polyethylene, and polypropylene). PET (plastic #1), formerly used to make single-use water bottles, is the synthetic material that gets recycled the most.

              Several particular recycled synthetic fibres include:

              ECONYL

              One of the most famous recycled synthetics is produced by the Italian business Aquafil.

              It is created from recycled ocean plastic, which accounts for 10% of all ocean plastic and includes ghost nets and abandoned fishing nets.

              Natural fibres simply cannot be used to create stretchable, shape-retaining fabrics, thus ECONYL is a fantastic alternative. Because of this, it is a common component of ethical activewear and swimwear.

              Spanflex 

              A Taiwanese firm called Spanflex has entirely recycled spandex that has been certified by the Global Recycle Standard, albeit it is not yet widely known or used (GRS).

              The controlling firm, Sheico Group, has Bluesign certification.

              Sadly, there hasn't been much Spanflex on the market yet; maybe, this will change.

              The end-of-life performance of recycled synthetic fabrics might not be quite as good as that of biodegradable fabrics. They are still superior to their virgin synthetic equivalents, and repurposing the existing plastic that is already contaminating our waterways is a victory in our eyes.

              Pros of recycled synthetics

              • Reduces plastic waste by recycling non-biodegradable plastic waste currently in the system.
              • Accumulating in oceans and landfills, decreasing the demand for crude oil extraction
              • Frequently associated with underdeveloped nations or social organisations that gather plastic from the oceans (e.g. collecting ghost nets and getting paid a fair wage)
              • Up to 90% less water, 85% less energy, and 90% less CO2 emissions are produced during manufacturing.
              • It can be continually melted down and made into new fibres to be recycled almost endlessly (but this hinges on consumers properly recycling them)

                Cons of recycled synthetics

                • There is simply no successful end of life for them because they are still plastic (except for recycling)
                • Microfibers are created during washing (solved with a guppy bag)
                • There is a lot of room for greenwashing (some businesses claim to employ "recycled materials" when they only make up a small portion of the blend).

                  5. Eco-Friendly Fabric Dyes

                  Even if your t-shirt is made of organic cotton, if it is heavily dyed with harmful substances that deplete local water supplies and harm communities, it is not eco-friendly, sustainable, or compostable.

                  So what are your choices?

                  • Eco-friendly, natural dyes: One particularly inventive case is Colorfix, where a team of researchers discovered how to use non-polluting renewable chemistry to produce natural dyes that require ten times less water and are non-toxic.

                  Both synthetic and natural materials can be coloured using their dyes. Other technologies, such the creation of colours from agricultural waste, are also helping to solve the issue.

                  • For synthetic fabrics: Dyecoo's CO2 dyeing process uses 100% of the dye itself, less energy, and no water (no wasted dye). Utilizing proprietary AirDye technology, a different company by the name of Colrep consumes less water and power.
                  • Digital Printing: The sector lacks a lot of reliable information about the long-term viability of digital printing.

                  Although most people appear to agree that it uses less water, the inks utilised appear to be the source of worry.

                  Using a waterless method and non-toxic inks, Kornit once more appears to be the most cutting-edge.

                  You may be asking how on earth you could determine which inks or colours were utilised. Again, choosing businesses who are Bluesign and GOTS accredited is your best option (aside of contacting the brand directly).

                  Look For Supply Chain Size And Transparency

                  Even though environmental effect is crucial, it only provides a portion of the story. The social aspect must be up to par throughout the entire supply chain. We need some level of openness from the business in order to accomplish that.

                  Full openness across supply chains that resemble spider webs is a lot to ask, as we noted above, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't keep asking, "#WhoMadeMyClothes?"

                  1. Small, Controlled Supply Chains

                  While brands may not achieve perfect transparency, they can strive for it, particularly by working to shorten their supply chain. Supply chains that are smaller have more control and fewer unknowable variables. Here are some telltale signs that a business is effectively managing its supply chain:

                  • Products are created in industrialised nations where workplace health and safety regulations are more strictly enforced and employees are paid a living wage (e.g., made in the USA or the UK).
                  • Limited product range: The supply chain grows in size as product offerings and material kinds expand. Smaller bids imply greater control.

                    Solid clothing brands don't need to carry a wide variety of items; they only need a few simple items that are created really well. Unfortunately, our society does not always value convenience and one-stop shopping the best.

                    • They make use of modest, family-run factories.

                    If businesses source and produce goods abroad (especially in poor nations), they should ensure that their suppliers' factories and manufacturers are routinely audited. For certifications on this, see the section after this one.

                    2. Transparency Is Important!

                    We recognise that larger firms with extensive product lines are unable to keep everything small, but if this is the case, they must be transparent about their sourcing.

                    We want them to tell us exactly where items were created in addition to making claims about having ethical supply chains and sustainable sourcing. In this approach, as buyers, we can assess the ethics for ourselves.

                    Accountability follows transparency, and change results from change.

                    The main idea behind Fashion Revolutions Transparency Index is this.

                    A yearly assessment on supply chain transparency, encompassing policy and commitments, governance, traceability, mending, and highlighted issues was started in 2017 and involved 200 large fashion brands.

                    No brand scored higher than 70% in the 2019 Transparency Index, where the average transparency was a pitiful 21%.

                    That may sound depressing, but on the plus side, there have been noticeable advances every year the poll has been conducted (5% since 2018, when no brand scored above 60%, and 9% since 2017, when no brand scored above 50%).

                    It's working to demand openness, but Fashion Revolution reminds us:

                    "Although transparency by itself cannot resolve the issues facing the sector, it is a crucial first step towards more extensive systemic transformation. Transparency sheds light on problems that are frequently kept hidden. […] In order to better understand how to transform the fashion business fundamentally, permanently, and positively, transparency aids in exposing the mechanisms of the sector."

                    Look For Ethical Business Practices

                    We may begin analysing whether a corporation can be regarded as ethical once it has disclosed some of its business operations and sourcing preferences.

                    1. Beware Of Greenwashing In “Ethical” Fashion

                    Again, greenwashing is a major issue here, and businesses can assert that they are taking extra measures when in fact they are simply upholding fundamental human rights regulations in the fashion industry (as lax as they may be).

                    There are only a few fundamental human rights principles that any business should uphold; doing so does not make them more moral or special.

                    The Social Accountability Standard International SA8000, which guarantees fair treatment of workers, is one ethical benchmark.

                    Even still, the term "fair treatment" is quite ill-defined and only extremely important issues are included, such as not using child labour (which goes without saying) and paying the required minimum wage, which, let's be honest, isn't worth giving the company any extra points in poor nations.

                    Unfortunately, businesses have perfected the art of greenwashing to the point where it takes insane amounts of mental gymnastics to detect it.

                    2. Ethical Fashion Certifications

                    Thankfully, there are other businesses that can carry out the work, so we don't have to (or at least not quite as much).

                    The most reliable technique to ensure that a business isn't misleading you is to check for unique (non-mandatory) certificates that were attained through independent audits.

                    Entire supply chains can be certified for ethical behaviour, just like various materials can.

                    The main two (i.e., the most demanding and challenging to achieve) are:

                    • B-Corp: The highest level of comprehensive certification for both ethical and sustainable standards is offered here. A company must meet strict criteria in 80 "impact areas," both environmental and social, to receive this certification, as well as the standards of its whole supply chain. The certification is kept up to date by repeating this audit each year.
                    • Fair Trade: The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and individual chapters like the North American Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade Foundation, and Fairtrade International are just a few of the many certification bodies that operate in this area.

                    There are more widespread, reliable certifications for ethical fashion, albeit these are not ALL of them:

                    • Ecocert: Standards differ based on what is being certified. "Independent and impartial certification organisation examining the conformity of a product, service, or system with environmental and social requirements established in a standard."

                    For instance, they have certifications for Fair Trade, Organic and Environmentally Friendly Textiles, and Organic Farming.

                    Examples include avoiding child labour, forced labour, harassment, unreasonable work hours, discrimination, having a safe and healthy workplace, and using environmentally friendly methods.

                    3. Inclusivity And Diversity

                    When evaluating a fashion company's commitment to human rights, this is the final criterion we consider.

                    We make an effort to prioritise size-inclusive brands and encourage diversity in their product image, even though it's not a make-or-break criterion (such as through models chosen).

                    We argue that the days of browsing through fashion magazines and only finding blonde skeletons are over. Thigh gap is a fabrication!

                    Any size, shape, or skin tone can wear clothing produced by really moral businesses.

                    Look At The End-Of-Life Outcome

                    Durability should be a consideration while creating sustainable apparel. In other words, it need to be durable.

                    If a company uses strong materials and offers a lifetime warranty on its products, you can probably assume that they are reasonably confident in the calibre of their offerings.

                    But ultimately, even the best-made materials degrade. Therefore, sustainable brands will take that inevitable into account while developing their offerings and business strategy.

                    Look for businesses that have return or repair policies. Do they recycle items if they are returned?

                    Additionally, search for products that have received Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification.

                    Based on the lowest score a product receives when evaluated for five factors—material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness—it can be given one of five levels (basic, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum).

                    Look For Brands That Minimise Their Impact

                    As significant as the impact of the product is, we also need to pay attention to the operational impact, thus we need to seek for brands that take other business factors into account.

                    Along with choosing durable fabrics and clothing, businesses should also take the following steps to lessen their impact:

                    Handmade production elements: A corporation uses less energy and emits fewer machine emissions the less it depends on machines. On the other hand, handicrafting leads to an increase in employment.

                    Zero Waste Packaging: Look for shipping tags, sleeves, and other items that can be composted. Or is it possible to return the packing for future use?

                    Shipping: Do they ship using carbon-neutral services? Do they only send freight and on the ground? Do they deliver abroad?

                    Many GHG emissions are caused by last-mile logistics, which is the last stage in the delivery process from a distribution centre or facility to the end user.

                    Therefore, superior businesses won't send internationally or via aeroplane.

                    It can be difficult to completely avoid carbon emissions.

                    This is something that ethical businesses will be aware of, and they will buy carbon offsets to make up for it and any other sustainability gaps in the previous concerns.

                    Or request a surcharge from clients to cover shipping-related emissions!

                    Office policies on waste and impact: Conscious businesses will practise low waste management themselves, adopting composting and recycling programmes in their offices and factories, utilising renewable energy sources, and removing as much garbage as they can.

                    Deadstock waste: What do they do about it? Most businesses tend not to comment (unless they offer a recycling programme where even returned used items get remade into new products).

                    But it wouldn't hurt to enquire! Burning is obviously not the solution we're searching for.

                    The ideal situation for businesses is for them to not overproduce their goods or, even better (though this is uncommon outside of very small fashion brands), for them to be made-to-order businesses.

                    You may be sure that no things are ever produced in waste this manner.

                    Look For Brands That Give Back

                    We like companies that go above and beyond for their own financial gain by giving back.

                    those who use their profits to make the world a better place in some way, whether it is by funding charitable causes or planning activities and events.

                    One of the most recognised give-back initiatives is the 1% for the Planet Program, which was started by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia. Being a member essentially makes companies responsible for consistently giving back a certain amount.

                    Just remember that volunteering is not everything. In comparison to all the other criteria, it actually ranks fairly low on the priority list.

                    Unfortunately, it's also not unusual for businesses to use a well-publicized give-back programme to cover up their unethical business practises.

                    Get Inspired By What’s Next For The Fashion Industry

                    That's basically up to us, I suppose. We've observed a lot of development and genuinely unique advances in the fashion sector.

                    However, given the enormous amount of work still to be done, is fully sustainable fashion even feasible? Or is it just an ironic effort to make us feel better?

                    Perhaps there will never be an absolute standard of sustainability for fashion, and the fact that the industry acknowledges this is an indication of the best fashion brands available.

                    One of these is undoubtedly Patagonia, a company known for its anti-growth business model, which placed highly in Fashion Revolution's Transparency Index assessment.

                    Yvon Chouinard, the company's founder and CEO, notes in his autobiography Let My People Go Surfing:

                    "Patagonia won't ever be fully socially conscious. It can never create a fully damage-free, sustainable product. But it is determined to attempt.

                    Perhaps there should be more of a spectrum when it comes to how sustainable and ethical fashion differs from quick fashion. Simply said, certain companies and brands have advanced further than others.

                    This strategy acknowledges and accommodates the evolving environment of what qualifies as ethical and sustainable.

                    Additionally, it motivates companies and brands to advance rather than creating a "us vs them" division.

                    Fast Fashion Countermovements And Communities

                    We invite you to use these materials if you're in need of motivation regarding examples of how change has actually occurred. The organisations and movements battling to use fashion as a force for good are listed below.

                    1. Slow Fashion

                    The response to quick fashion by designer Kate Fletcher. Incorporating many of the factors that made the Slow Food Movement effective, Slow Fashion emphasises awareness, accountability, quality over quantity, the preservation of cultural identities, choice, and knowledge.

                    In the future, she saw "an opportunity for business to be done in a way that respects workers, the environment, and customers in equal measure" thanks to slow fashion, which would permit "a greater relationship between designer and maker; maker and garment; garment and user."

                    These slow fashion tenets are now being embodied by an expanding number of slow fashion firms.

                    2. Fashion Revolution

                    The world's greatest fashion activism movement is the creator of Fashion Revolution Week, which is arguably the best illustration of the power of the consumer.

                    The yearly celebration takes place on April 24, the day the Rana Plaza accident occurred.

                    The Slow Fashion Movement has been formalised in many ways by Fashion Revolution Week.

                    Teams are currently active in more than a hundred nations around the world, and thousands of local event attendees are posing the straightforward query #WhoMadeMyClothes.

                    The purpose is to engage businesses and merchants in conversation, examine their supply chain, and promote transparency.

                    Model, Material, and Mindset are the three M's that Fashion Revolution hopes to use to overhaul the fashion business.

                    They are an OUTSTANDING source for information about the fast fashion industry as well as current information. We could (and have) spent the entire day looking through their information to make us smarter shoppers.

                    3. Traid

                    By preventing clothing from being thrown away, this charity with roots in the UK is promoting a circular fashion industry. Instead, they "convert clothing waste into money and resources to lessen the negative effects our garments have on the environment and society."

                    By encouraging clothing reuse and educating people on the effects of textile waste and production, they do this.

                    4. Fair Fashion Center

                    The FFC collaborates with the CEOs of the fashion industry to create market-based solutions that financially encourage a change to sustainable business practises. It serves as a sort of brainstorming space for ideas on how to make fashion both a neutral and a constructive force in the world.

                    Creating a sustainability accounting standards board for the fashion sector is one of their projects.

                    We conducted a more thorough analysis of this organisation and conducted a podcast interview with its founder, Cara Smyth.

                    5. Remake

                    This foundation wants to change the industry's direction and educate people about the issues with fashion. To begin with, they produced documentaries that aimed to put viewers "face to face with the women who make our garments."

                    The Pre-Loved Podcast and a film collection that exposes the realities of the fashion business around the world are just two of the many excellent resources they have available for learning about sustainable fashion.

                    These are all must-watch, short movies.

                    Consult their circular fashion workbook to gain a better understanding of what it entails.

                    6. Sustainable Apparel Coalition (Sac) Higg Product Module

                    The Higg Product Module (Higg PM), which was introduced by the SAC in 2020 and assists businesses in calculating the whole life-cycle impact (from seed to shelf, socially and environmentally) when manufactured at an industrial scale.

                    This could mark a significant turning point in the development of a set of corporate responsibility standards that are legally enforceable and more broadly accepted.

                    Final Thoughts

                    We know this article has been overwhelming, with lots of fatiguing figures and some inspiring innovations. The fashion industry has just gotten so out of control, and it takes a lot to understand the full picture.  

                    We do our best to put in the work, so you don't have to, and now you hopefully understand how we approach our sustainable fashion guides.

                    We will always look for brands that meet as many of these ideals as possible and adequately mitigate their impact. 

                    Leave a comment

                    All comments are moderated before being published