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Sustainable Fashion – The Many Contradictions

In many ways, the words sustainable and fashion don’t fit well together. I have heard sustainable fashion described as an oxymoron and a contradiction, and perhaps this is true. Is it really possible for the fashion industry to become sustainable?

Part of the problem with the term sustainable fashion is that ‘fashion’ is often used to describe ever-changing trends and is even associated with ‘fast fashion’, the term used to describe low-cost or affordable clothing that is made quickly to respond to The latest trend is often used only once or twice before being discarded. The ethical and environmental implications of this type of clothing are well known, as valuable resources are wasted and supply chain workers are mistreated to ensure clothing is produced quickly at low cost. Despite the many negative connotations that the word fashion can have, if you take it as a more general word used to describe clothing, then it is almost possible to have sustainable fashion, although perhaps not quite because the manufacture of any garment will have some impact on the environment even if relatively small.

With confusion even over the name of the product, it’s not really surprising that most shoppers don’t bother with sustainable fashion and prefer to stick with the fashion brands they know despite knowing they often operate in unsustainable and unethical ways. . But the contradiction over the name ‘sustainable fashion’ is only the beginning. There are so many other contradictions and a lot of confusion associated with this.

Take for example vegan fashion. Being vegan is generally considered an ethical and sustainable way of living, which not only reduces the suffering caused to animals in the farming system, but also reduces the carbon footprint and pollution caused by farming. Therefore, it may surprise some that vegan fashion is not necessarily the most ethical and sustainable option. Vegan shoes may be made without the use of animal products, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been made in ethical factories or using sustainable materials; in fact, the synthetic materials used in place of leather often harm the environment in their own way. If you want to be absolutely sure that your vegan shoes or bags are completely ethical and sustainable, you’ll need to look for a brand that pays attention to all these issues.

Next on the list of contradictions and confusion surrounding sustainable fashion is the concept of ethical fashion. Many ethical fashion brands support various good causes around the world and empower people to create a sustainable livelihood. However, supporting these great causes does involve buying clothes, perhaps clothes that we don’t really need or possibly aren’t made from sustainable fabrics. The more we buy, the more we help these great causes but also the more we consume. Collections labeled as sustainable may be made from eco-friendly fabrics, but this does not guarantee that they have been made ethically. In this situation we are left with the difficult task of deciding what is most important in terms of economic and social or environmental sustainability. Ethical fashion is often made in far away countries; this is another contrast to local fashion that is often considered more sustainable due to the environmental impact of its transportation. Second-hand and vintage clothing again offer a dilemma, while probably the most sustainable option, it does little to alleviate poverty around the world, although in this case buying from charity shops could be the answer to reducing so much environmental impact to support a worthwhile community. cause.

The topic of sustainable fashion is complex and brands sometimes use the confusion surrounding it to greenwash consumers by using the terms ‘eco’ and ‘sustainable’ to describe clothes or collections that can help in one way but not of other. To combat skepticism and mistrust towards sustainable fashion, there must be a clear and easy to understand way of labeling and describing products. The word sustainable fashion is general enough to mean just about anything when used by savvy marketers causing confusion among consumers. The term sustainable also does not excite those looking to buy fashion.

However, there are many innovative fashion brands that are pioneering new ways of working in terms of ethics and sustainability; There just has to be a way to communicate this to customers in a simple and easy to understand way.

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