We have reached the point where we need to reimagine everything about the fashion industry. But with the internet brimming with bikinis costing less than a coffee and misleading greenwashing, it can, at times, feel impossible for the green fashionistas to feel positive about the future of fashion.
This is why we decided it was time to lighten the mood and bring back the spark we all need to roll up our sleeves! The truth is that a lot of progress has been made to make fashion more sustainable over the past few years. These 5 trends in sustainable fashion will reassure all the revolutionaries that we, despite recent setbacks, are only moving forward:
1. The Trend Towards Transparency
The fashion industry had, for a long time, been operating behind closed doors. Luckily, recent documentaries such as The True Cost and Fashion’s Dirty Secrets have been shining a light on what reality looks like and lifting the lid off of the industry’s hidden practices. Amongst the few things major fashion brands were not too keen to disclose were a number of very unpleasant truths, including the violations of human rights and environmental issues in the supply chain that make the very model of fast fashion possible. While these are still major issues that need wider recognition, a sliver of hope is on the horizon. An increasing number of fashion brands and retailers are now more transparent than ever about who their manufacturers and suppliers are. In April 2019, Fashion Revolution stated that out of 200 major brands, 35% of them are disclosing their supply chain information to the general public, including details about the factories where their clothes are being made. Looking back to three years ago, back in 2016, only 12.5% of brands published a list of their manufacturers.
A key takeaway from this year’s Fashion Transparency Index is that 10 brands out of the 200 brands included in the survey also disclosed their raw materials suppliers (i.e. farms and facilities that supplies the companies with fibres such as viscose, cotton, wool etc.). While this number might not sound very impressive, if compared to the past three years you might feel differently. In 2016 and 2017, no brand had any record of where their materials came from, and in 2018 only one company shared this information. Transparency is a growing trend and that is for the better, because only when we know where and what in the supply chain goes wrong can we act on it!
What you can do: If you are in need of some fairly and sustainably made fashion, check out these 7 fashion brands that will make your wardrobe - and the planet - jump for joy! You can also start following Eco Age on Instagram for updates on transparency in the fashion industry.
2. Innovation with Sustainability at its Heart
When scrolling through the Innovation Forum on the Copenhagen Fashion Summit’s website, you might be surprised by how many wonderful companies are working to make their mark on the sustainable fashion industry. There is a significant distancing from chemical processes and a wider focus on ecological and greener methods - upcycling and recycling have been taken to a whole new level! With a host of new innovations, the fashion industry can start closing the input-output circuit and stop using so many virgin materials. These brands are consistently working towards innovative, planet-friendly solutions to reduce the impact and pressure that is consistently put on our planet and its resources, and this is something that truly inspires us here at BLANC.
Some of our favourites include SpinDye, which offers a clean and traceable colouring method for textiles; LiteHide by LeatherTeq, a technology to limit the use of salt for the preservation of skins in leather making; Lenzing, that produces high-quality fibres and filaments from renewable raw material wood and Evrnu that has invented a fibre technology that transforms old clothing into high quality, new raw materials.
What you can do: Whenever you have the opportunity, support small startups who are doing everything in their power to leave the planet in better shape! It can at times be a bit more expensive, but any contribution does make a huge difference for small-sized companies. Also, check out Fashion For Good for your daily dose of sustainable fashion innovation.
3. The Rapid Change in Consumer Behaviour
Several studies state that the wide majority of consumers are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to creating a world in which they want to live. Nielson’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report showed that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it is sustainably made.
This change is not only driven by the much easier access to information but also by multiple pioneering companies that are empowering consumers and helping them choose more sustainably. Our friends over at HURR are a brilliant example: they are tapping into a luxury sharing economy, letting their customers rent clothes from exclusive brands for a fraction of the retail price. Another one is Save Your Wardrobe, an upcoming app that helps you buy less but buy better by literally digitising your wardrobe and analysing what you wear and what you don’t - sounds like something we wouldn’t want to miss out on!
What you can do: To make the sustainable journey a bit easier, the Good On You app compares brands and rates them after their level of sustainability - it’s the perfect place to start for anyone who is feeling a bit lost in the greenwashing jungle. Follow Good On You on Instagram.
4. Resale is Taking Over the Fashion Stage
Clothes are a daily necessity and, for many, a form of self-expression. Yet, the process of manufacturing clothes is very polluting. Vivienne Westwood would argue that the most sustainable fashion is the one you already have - or even better than that, the one your mother or grandmother wore!
In the UK alone, we throw away 300 000 tonnes of clothing every year, and according to recent studies, 95% of the garments we bin are entirely fit for reuse. Making the fashion system more circular whilst also satisfying our desire for newness, both resale sites and rental platforms have appeared as a sustainable alternative to disposable fast fashion. This spring, resale site Thredup released an annual report covering the present and future of the resale market. The report stated that the resale market is growing quicker than the fast fashion market and is projected to exceed it in the near future.
What you can do: Taking proper care of the clothes that have already been produced is actually one of the most sustainable options - including your mother’s electric neon leg warmers (luckily, we can always upcycle!). Not to mention that this is a very wallet-friendly solution. Sites such as Re-Fashion, Vinted and Depop are perfect to sell the clothes you no longer want and buy new ones if you need to!
5. It’s a Fashion Revolution
Have you heard about the global movement Fashion Revolution? It is a not-for-profit movement on a mission to reform the fashion industry. It was created in response to the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh in 2013 by sustainable fashion gurus Orsola De Castro and Carry Somers. What happened at Rana Plaza is known as the worst industrial disaster in fashion history and according to De Castro, the situation was both predictable and avoidable. Orsola and Carry knew that something powerful needed to happen in order to make a change, and so a Fashion Revolution was born.
They have ever since, slowly but surely been demanding urgent change and pushing the industry to clean up its act. Thanks to the brilliant team at Fashion Revolution, millions of people around the globe are consistently calling on brands to answer the question ‘Who Made My Clothes?’.
What you can do: Be part of the revolution and ask your favourite fashion brand who makes their clothes! There are several templates just waiting to be sent on Fashion Revolution’s website - all you need to do is choose a brand and press send! You can follow Fashion Revolution on Instagram as well, for your daily dose of revolutionary news and inspiration.