What Is Meant By Sustainable Fashion

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Today sustainable fashion is a highly debated and increasingly covered topic in media and at seminar’s worldwide. Sustainable fashion is not a trend that can be taken lightly. When the society is moving towards conscious living in all aspects of our life there is n doubt a room for improvement in the fashion sector. The clothing companies are transforming their business models and improving their supply chains to reduce overall environmental impacts, improve social conditions in factories, etc. There is also a growing awareness among consumers, especially the younger generation.

When sustainable fashion is chosen it does not have quite the impact of adding solar to your home or to improve energy efficiency, but the choices that we make for our clothing reflect throughout the society in many ways. The Atlantic claims that Americans purchase five times the amount of clothing today than what we did in 1980. Five times the clothing means five times the waste which will later end up on landfills. It has been found that Americans recycle to donating only 15% of their used clothing and the rest say about 10.5 million tons a year goes into landfills. This leads to giving textiles only one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material. Anne Brones has said that there is no need to trash the clothes as about 50% of the textile which are meant for trash can actually be recycled. As a consumer we simply need to get better about recycling our clothing and textiles.

The type of conspicuous consumption of fashion and planned obsolescence is expensive and huge toll is placed on both natural and human resources. It might be the impact of dyes, fabric production, or the human element of making clothing; lots of things are there to improve upon.

By creating sustainably designed products, sustainable fashion can be best brought in which will increase the longevity of a garment. Fast fashion phenomenon is one of the major reasons behind the formation of the sustainable fashion movement. Low cost of clothes can no longer be seen on the shelves as new brands have started focusing on cheap garments within a short lead time. In the United Kingdom studies have showed that carbon footprints were triggered by excess clothing brought by customers, increasing the carbon dioxide equivalent emission into the environment, setting off alarms in those rooting for sustainable fashion. Every season people want to purchase new garments even though the life span is short which can be disposed at the end of the season. To implement the sustainable fashion movement, this psychological behavior of the customers has to be changed.

Sustainability means to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising future generations. The cooperation of all suppliers of individual components is the major challenge in sustainability. They need to be more ethically secured and accounted for, from labour to transportation from factory to retail outlet, aftercare and disposal of garments. Fashion industry has a complex and fragmented supply chain that has global reach.

For the fashion industry, green is the new black focus on sustainable practices. In the twentieth century, various incidents helped the rise of conscious consumerism. The fire in the Nike factory in Indonesia due to poor working conditions resulted in protests and boycotts by employees and the media. Later after twenty four years, Nike is one of the leading companies in implementing sustainable practices.

Concerns of fashion industry –

The fashion and textile sector after the oil industry is most polluting since the various stages of a garment’s life cycle threatens our planet and resources. 20,000 liters of water, which is one of the major resources is needed to produce a kilogram of cotton which is equivalent to one T-shirt or a pair of jeans. For the conversion of raw materials into garments will need about 8,000 types of chemicals. In case the clothes go out of style or are not sold then they are used to fill the landfills which lead to pollution.

Fast fashion is unsustainable –

Fast fashion means the low-cost clothing designed on high-cost luxury fashion trends and such garments apt fast. In a week’s time a responsive supply chain works to bring such products to the market which is opposed to the regular product launch lead-time of six months. The fast fashion companies are trying on fast cycles like speedy prototyping, small ratio of more varieties, efficient transportation and fast delivery. Such companies also prefer to attach the hangers with price tags at the factory end itself to save time to get the get the product launch as early as possible.

Clothing brands have made their products so affordable that consumers buy more garments which results in over-consumption of unsustainable clothing. Consumers are attracted to brands through pleasant prices to ensure consumer loyalty. On the other hand, knowing the truth consumers compare the prices of the same or similar products across two or three shops and prefer the one which is cheapest. Consumer is unaware that the cheaper garment can be worm only for two to three times and it will ultimately lose its personality after washing. The cycle is repeated and this results in accumulation of fast fashion and spending of money unnecessary.

Industry’s new analysis tool –

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) or analysis of complex process describes the impact of each clothing manufacturing process like raw material sourcing and preparation, manufacture, shipping and transportation, maintenance, disposal and recycling.

The garment of higher environmental impact can be worn long with less impact than a garment of lower impact worn only once or twice of a short fashion cycle. Brands and industry both should pay attention to all factors with influence the impact of the clothing lifecycle like supply chain, product design and quality. LCA is thus the best tool to identify risk generating areas of environmental impact and also optimizes the product design based on LCA results and achieve a sustainable business model.

Conclusions –

It is the duty of each fashion brand to promote products with sustainability as per the details given by customer awareness model. Some contemporary consumers have faith in branded clothes and hence it becomes easy to promote the sustainable garments. The price of the garment is an important factor which should be taken into account as it has bigger impact in promoting the sustainable garments to consumers. The entire life cycle of garment thus takes more time and hence cot of manufacturing of each garment will increase. Government subsidies should be there so that those who are in the process of manufacturing and promoting or selling sustainable garments. More sustainable clothing will be witnessed in the near future.

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