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The Sustainability Series: Brands to watch, circular fashion and ethical choices

Consumer demand for sustainable, ethically-sourced clothing is growing, and the conversation around sustainability is bigger and louder than ever before.

At WGSN, sustainability is a key area of focus for us in 2018 and, on Insider, you can expect to see content from industry leaders, brands to watch and easy steps to take in order to make your brand more eco-friendly.

We reached out to Rebecca Piersol, a stylist and fashion blogger who writes for The Crystal Press, a fashion and beauty blog and thredUP, an online/offline consignment store to talk the current state of play in sustainable fashion.

 

Rebecca Piersol

With the expanding world of social media, it’s not surprising that the fashion industry is experiencing astounding growth. From brands collaborating with influencers to boutiques that solely exist on Instagram, it’s hard to keep up.

This expanding world has also given rise to the world of fast fashion, where companies are mass-producing their pieces in order to offer low prices and keep up with ever-changing trends.

As a fashion blogger, I see this daily in my inbox. Brands are reaching out to influencers, asking them to promote products that are, typically, poorly made with low price tags. These sorts of brands are contributing to massive amounts of waste within the fashion industry – they’re not clothes to invest in, it’s more ‘wear once, throw away’. Although these pieces can be donated for use as textiles, it’s more likely that they’re ending up in the trash and on their way to the landfill in a matter of months.

Sure, the price point might be accessible—but it comes with a much greater cost to our environment.

The Frontrunners of Sustainability

As a response, a wide range of fashion brands are making efforts to promote sustainable fashion with eco-conscious practices. Sustainable fashion can encompass a lot of things – from the use of environmentally friendly materials to ethical production practices, including quality workers rights and reducing waste as much as possible.

For example, Stella McCartney vows to create responsibly, and has made it one of her goals for her brand to be synonymous with eco-fashion.

EDUN, created by Bono and Ali Hewson, was another one of the first brands to promote eco-friendly fashion. The brand focuses on making sustainable products in Africa, building long-lasting relationships with local artisans and creating jobs throughout the continent. When you purchase an EDUN piece, you know that you are supporting their production practices and encouraging employment and opportunity in third world countries.

G-Star Raw’s philosophy is “Just the product,” and they are dedicated to creating clothing with a responsible supply chain, sustainable products and operations, and community involvement. They also use recycled plastic bottles to create ‘bionic yarn,’ a comfortable, durable material that helps to keep plastic out of the ocean and stops the use of toxic microfibers that pollute our environment.

For more brands leading the way on sustainable fashion, read the WGSN report on Sustainable Womenswear S/S18

Slowing Down Fast Fashion

Though they’re known for fast fashion, H&M is also making big steps towards sustainability. They are using their size and international following to create awareness about sustainable fashion, hoping that other fast fashion brands will follow suit.

Their mission is “to make sure that fashion continues to be enjoyed today and for generations to come. But to create a truly sustainable fashion industry that is good for people, communities and the planet, (they) need to take (their) work to the next level.”

They aim to adopt a circular approach to fashion (using recycled and sustainably-sourced pieces) on a huge scale. This means acknowledging fair job practices for all, being transparent in their approaches, and promoting a diverse and inclusive culture—starting with their “Conscious” line, which uses natural, ethically sourced organic materials.

 

How to Make Ethical Shopping Choices

On an individual level, you can help contribute to encouraging circular fashion by buying secondhand and selling your unwanted clothes. Platforms such as Depop are making this easier than ever before. The online resale site thredUP donates any clothing they can’t sell to textile recyclers, who repurpose the materials into useful products like pillow stuffing and household insulation.

If you’re a dedicated lover of a certain brand, try shopping secondhand when you’re looking for something new to wear—and trade in your pieces when you’re tired of them instead of simply throwing them away. At the end of the day, shopping fast fashion stores with cheap price tags might seem desirable—but there are plenty of other ways to stay fashionable without compromising on sustainability.

For more insight, read WGSN’s report on Sustainability and the Consumer 2018. 

 

Rebecca Piersol is a stylist and fashion blogger who writes for The Crystal Press, a fashion and beauty blog and thredUP, an online/offline consignment store that offers a large selection of women’s clothing including dresses for every occasion. 

 

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