The Future of Fashion: Sustainability and Responsibility
By Gina Brogna
Sustainable and responsible fashion is needed now more than ever. The fashion industry is the primary contributor to garment waste, the second-largest source of environmental pollution next to oil. Environmental harm to our planet is not the only thing the fashion industry is guilty of, as some of our favorite brands continue to be exposed to practicing the unethical and irresponsible treatment of factory workers who make the clothes we love. With a rise in the fight for saving our planet and the people in it, sustainable and responsible clothing brands are the new future of fashion.
Here’s how you can help: seek out fashion brands that value sustainability, shop brands that are transparent in their business practices, try thrifting, and continue to use your voice.
When we get rid of the clothes we no longer wear, not only do these non-biodegradable materials stay on our planet, but the toxic chemicals and dyes used to make that garment seep into our ground’s soil and our water. Those toxic chemicals are also released into the air. By seeking out brands that prioritize sustainability, you help the fight against hurting our planet.
Fast Fashion is the prime source of unethical business practices. Some of our favorite brands like Forever 21, Fashion Nova, Shein, Urban Outfitters, and more, are guilty of mistreating factory workers; while we unknowingly consume their products that only exacerbate the problem. Not to mention there is no effort in these brands to contribute to environmentally conscious means of production. Companies like these profit astronomically off of underpaid workers who struggle to survive and support their families, and are forced to work in sweatshop-like conditions in factories that pose extreme health hazards. May the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013 never be forgotten, a factory in Bangladesh that produced clothing for different U.S. brands collapsed after health and safety complaints were ignored, killing over 1,100 workers. Those who love fashion need to love the people that make our products just as much and turning our back to these harmful brands shapes our industry’s future.
Check out some of these brands that promote sustainability and transparency in how they do business:
Fair Trade Certified, Patagonia fights the fight against hurting our people and our planet. This brand uses recycled fabric materials as well as organic cotton, a completely natural and biodegradable fiber that will not pollute our planet. Patagonia commits to responsible labor practices and often uses factories based in the United States instead of overseas where fair trade laws are too often disregarded. Patagonia makes women’s and men’s outdoor apparel and gear, a perfect alternative for active lifestyle shoppers.
The denim that will never go out of style, Levi’s commits to fight the fight as well. Levi’s uses recycled denim for their jeans and ethically sourced materials like cotton (meaning they do not get their materials from factories that abuse their workers and use eco-friendly fiber textiles). This brand also goes the extra mile and uses means of production that reduce water and energy use, as well as giving back by donating to different charities and they are highly vocal on equal rights and other global issues. For your denim desires, shop Levi’s.
Reformation is an excellent alternative to fast fashion. They stay on-trend, creating designs that match what’s happening in the right now while being committed to only using eco-friendly materials, as well as sustainable and ethical production practices. They are fast-paced in their designs up to production, releasing products designed within a month as compared to most fashion brands that design products over a year in advance. They hit the hottest trends when they’re happening, making this the perfect brand to invest in to always stay on-trend. Reformation is completely transparent in what they use for materials and how they source it on their website, which you can check out at www.thereformation.com.
A fun and affordable trend to hop on to combat our polluted environment is to shop for second-hand clothing at places like thrift stores. Thrifting is not only a perfect way to find hidden gems to add to your wardrobe at an affordable price but reuses clothing that would have otherwise been part of the garment pollution problem. Consider donating your old clothes to second-hand stores as well. Oftentimes, if donated clothing does not meet standards to sell at participating thrift stores, your clothes will be further recycled and turned into other helpful tools like cleaning rags used in auto repair shops. Get creative like many other thrifters who participate in thrift flips, by purchasing thrifted items and redesigning them into new and trendy outfits.
Most importantly, use your voice. Keep speaking out against the harmful practices of the fashion industry. Brands are listening. Use your voice to push guilty brands to change the way they do business and contribute to shaping the new future of fashion, or to step aside and let brands committed to making a difference take the stage. With our voices comes change. The farewell to fast fashion is approaching, and it is done with your help and the brands listed above.
Gina Brogna is an editorial writer who specializes in fashion and beauty trends as well as fashion event coverage.