“We only have two choices: do nothing or do something.” – Tony Kirwan
The global environmental crisis is becoming way too overwhelming to ignore anymore. 2021 has to be the year when we finally put our foot down and begin to make changes. Dialogue surrounding sustainable fashion has been circulating for a while now, but it has failed to make a difference on the ground. While we can continue to defend why we haven’t achieved what should have been a priority, latest studies and reports suggest we don’t have the time for such rhetoric. According to a report by the Global Fashion Agenda and management consultant McKinsey, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are likely to rise to a shocking 2.7 bn tonnes a year by 2030.
A simple research on the average consumer will reveal that affordability stands as a major barrier in mass adoption of sustainable fashion. The fact that we still haven’t been able to democratize sustainable fashion proves that we are not serious enough in our efforts to make a difference.
An interesting take on the slow adoption of sustainability is offered by Angela Luna and Loulwa Al Saad who are the founders of Adiff, a design label dedicated to creating clothing and accessories from would-be waste materials. They argued in the Open-Source Fashion Cookbook that the industry has mis-prioritized the issue of sustainability. What it has been propagating instead is an ‘elitist’ idea for which “a large percentage of the population is disenfranchised from participating in a sustainable fashion”. One of the reasons for such a flawed approach is that most brands try to think of a solution that will fit into the existing system. The extra cost of production is thus compensated by raising the price of the final product. This means missing out on larger and creative ways to do things, something the fashion industry should have been more focused on.
The experts of this industry believes in innovative takes on production that will overhaul any existing exhaustive methods of production. The aim is to build a network that will thrive on green practices without compromising on the quality of things. It’s high time for brands and manufacturers around the world to equip themselves with the right tools and strategies to meet the sustainable demands of the age.
“More than three in five consumers said environmental impact is an important factor in making purchasing decisions.” — State of Fashion 2021, a report by McKinsey.
Circular fashion is likely to emerge as the most significant trend in the upcoming decade. Sustainable fashion is also a social responsibility. So as a collective group of intelligent species, we need to establish resource efficiency, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and recyclability as the foundations of fashion. Brands need to embrace these codes and stand up to their responsibility.
Thankfully millennials and Gen Z folks are taking an increasing interest in sustainable fashion, which leads them to make inquiries about the sourcing and production process before making the purchase. They look for brands that help them in building a sustainable wardrobe. Ditching fast fashion in favour of an organic counterpart is certainly going to help the planet. Now the responsibility lies upon the brands to make sustainable fashion affordable for average customers. There is another trend that can be expected to have a positive effect on the environment. When it’s time to discard the clothes, instead of sending them off to landfills, they can be sent to textile recycling centers. In doing so, garbage can actually become a potential raw material for new products, reducing waste generation on the whole.
Looking forward, we expect fashion entrepreneurs to embrace all practices to fulfill the industry’s sustainability goals. Sustainable fashion or ethical fashion is not just a concept to read about over the internet or in magazines. It is a practice for a safer future, a future without the fear of some imminent catastrophe.