Sustainable fashion brands are great, giving us the choice to shop more ethically and making us feel better about what we're wearing. But I think you would agree with me, so many brands are claiming to be 'sustainable' that those who really are aren't able to stand out. (greenwashing anyone?). But this is not about how to spot eco-friendly brands... rather, is having more ethical brands really the key to solve the problems of the fashion industry?
I think not.
This is by no means saying that it's meaningless or useless to create a sustainable clothing brand. It's a great step forward and a good way to promote sustainable fashion and its benefits. Small brands have helped spread the message about sustainability, have given customers more sustainable options and have proven to bigger companies that customer demand for consciously-made clothing exists, but as Maxine Bedat, the co-founder of Zady said, "We can't buy ourselves out of the problem...a big part of the sustainability question is just how many garments are being produced, and having to slow that down. There will always be a natural tension for a fashion company between sales growth and addressing these issues."
And that's true, no matter how sustainably made your garments are if you impulse buy and don't properly care for them. It's about making them last and not treating them as disposals, but I'm sure you already know that.
Rachel Kibbe also talked about this issue "You can create as many small-label collections as you want; that's not going to solve the environmental problem of most clothes going to the trash". We don't need all the clothing we buy, and starting up new brands is not the most efficient way to better the world's climate emergency, greatly caused by the fashion industry".
Too many would-be entrepreneurs have bought into the idea that brands are the actors best equipped to create positive change. That doesn't seem to square with the fact that brands themselves are often asking for extended deadlines to meet sustainability goals because of the difficulty of shrinking their environmental footprints. This is not a reason to demonise brands so much as a call to recognise their limitations.
It's not that starting a new label is always wrong, it's just that it may not be the best use of one's creative potential, money or time if addressing the climate crisis is a serious priority. "sometimes humanitarianism and entrepreneurship are actually distinct things."
Some people are genuinely interested in taking action and making a change, but what roles are more effective in improving the fashion industry?
These include creating clothing rental models, creating better waste management systems; designing innovative fibres, media that better communicates the problem or support for garment workers. Policy changes are also important and a step forward towards a more sustainable fashion industry, there are many ways to push for it, but just raising awareness on the issue and vote with your money are great ways to start.
It's time for designers to examine whether their new sustainable fashion brand is a project for themselves or one that can actually add value to the environment, the marketplace and the world. Not everyone is cut out for the same kind of work, it can't be said that no one should ever start a new sustainable brand again, but what is clear is that with a short timeline to combat the climate crisis, in a world that already contains more than enough apparel to clothe every human alive, creating a sustainable brand shouldn't be the first priority.
What do you think?
inspired by this article :)