What does sustainable fashion mean? It’s a question that is increasingly being asked by people in the fashion industry, such as Vanessa Friedman, the FT’s fashion editor. In her February 10, 2010 article on the topic, she points out that the definition varies according to who you ask. She concluded that there is no collective answer yet because ” . . . we are in the middle of a paradigm shift.”
In my mind, sustainable fashion has to have a lasting positive impact on a personal, environmental, and social level. Examples of this include apparel and accessories that are:
- Made from recycled materials. Ties into belts, jeans into skirts, tops into hats, these are just some examples of the recycled trend.
- Made from materials grown without the use of pesticides, which cause rashes, harm industry workers, and pollute our planet. Organic cotton comes to mind.
- Made from rapidly renewable materials. One example is fabric made of bamboo, which grows quickly and thrives without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
- Made in an ethical way. Think handbags made in a cooperative that employs people who would otherwise not have a job.
- Recyclable. Once the useful life of the piece is over, it will biodegrade, instead of adding to a landfill. Think tencel fabric, which is made of woodpulp.
- Vintage. The life of the item is extended so that it stays out of a landfill and new resources are not used to create it.
- Artisanal quality. The maker of the item has comfortable working conditions and enjoys a good quality of life thanks to a higher wage. The product is likely to last season after season, thus reducing your need to buy a new item.
- Locally made. When something is made near you, then less resources were used in the transport of the item. Also, by purchasing the product, it’s like investing in your community.
- Comfortable. The more comfortable an item is, the longer you’ll wear it. Using an item to the end of it’s usable life maximizes the use of the resources that went into making the product.
- Beautiful. Some pieces you cherish all your life and pass down to loved ones, which means less consumption.