How can we help the fashion industry to become greener and fairer?
We all know that the fashion industry still has a long way to go in order to become sustainable. Working conditions are poor and the industry has a massive impact on the environment. However, most of us still find it difficult to do something about it. And even though there are many innovative sustainable fashion brands, cheap fast fashion is still mainstream. The problems seem too big and also too far away to be solved by us, the consumers.
When I started working for the sustainable brand Saint Basics my perspective changed. The shortcomings of the fashion industry were on my mind on a daily base and at the same time I became aware that it was possible to produce beautiful fashion for a reasonable price without sweatshops, child labour and pollution. This is great news and it also brings great responsibility with it.
If it is possible to make better fashion, it is our duty as informed consumers to change our buying habits in order to stimulate the industry to become greener and fairer and promote those making sustainable fashion.
5 easy things we can do to promote eco fair fashion:
There are many ways to do that. We can…
- buy less in order to pollute less,
- buy from sustainable brands e.g. GOTS-certified brands to make sure both social and environmental standards are met,
- buy clothes made with innovative eco-friendly fibres like e.g. Tencel®
- buy second hand clothes and swop with other people in order to give our clothes a longer life,
- and of course we can avoid non-sustainable fashion brands.
But what if our favourite brand is not sustainable?
We do not only buy clothes in order to cover our bodies and to keep us warm and dry. Our clothing is part of the expression of who we are. The perfect outfit makes us feel self-confident and proud. Do we have to give up this for the sake of a more sustainable fashion industry? I do not believe so. So what can we do if our favourite fashion brand is not sustainable yet?
I had to find out during my research that my favourite brand, Esprit, is not in any way a pioneer when it comes to sustainability. On Rank A Brand they only get a D on a scale from A to E: Should do better!
Make an effort! Be the vanguard of sustainable fashion!
Knowing that, it doesn’t feel right to me anymore to buy my clothes at Esprit. So I decided to boycott the brand until they do better. As I am perfectly aware that I am going to feel this boycott more than they are, I also wrote them a letter. I do believe that even big brands are made of the people working for them and this gives me hope that my message will get to them: Make an effort! Don’t be at the bottom of the sustainability ranking list. Be on top. Be the vanguard!
In my letter I invite them to do their best and use their power to become the number one sustainable fashion brand. I also ask them to be more transparent and start the dialogue with their customers in order to make the world of fashion fairer and greener together. I want them to learn from sustainable brands such as Armed Angels or People Tree, who show us that better fashion is possible. And I want them to figure out how to upscale sustainable practices.
I hope to hear back from them and learn about their progress. I am looking forward to the day, when I can go back to their stores and buy their fashion feeling good about it. I will keep you posted!
What do you think?
In which other ways can we help to make the fashion industry more sustainable? I would love to receive your feedback and ideas. Please write to me firstname.lastname@example.org
Katharina Andrés is a sustainability consultant. She is a passionate, quickly understanding and empathic person with high motivation to support companies and initiatives in the context of sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Her services include strategic advice, interim management and research as well as customer service and marketing for sustainable brands.