Published on April 23rd, 2019
Fashion is mainly based on the latest trends but the industry behind should be the focal point of the matter. The need to fundamentally change the patterns of production and consumption in the industry has been brought under the spotlight for a while. When fast fashion brands thrive, the planet is struggling under the tonnes of waste generated by them.
More than 20% of the global wastewater and 10% of the total carbon emissions are generated by the fashion industry. To make a single pair of jeans are necessary more than 2,000 gallons of water for the dyeing and washing process. By 2050, the fashion industry will be responsible for eating up half of the carbon emission budget.
The fast fashion model is unsustainable, and consumers seem to start realizing it. Over the past few years, we have witnessed the decline of several large fast-fashion brands.
H&M is one of the corporations which has been under the spotlight over the past years, in the middle of sweatshop controversies and scandals. The consumer has turned their attention to ethical brands and wardrobe staples and seems to become highly critical of the fashion industry.
Millennials Are The Forces Behind The Change
While all young consumers remember the times when their wardrobes were full of H&M and Forever21 pieces of clothing, they grow more condemning in regards to the fast fashion practices and processes. Gen Z also has plans to ditch fast fashion articles in 2019 and support ethical brands. Reducing waste is a goal both generations have in common.
Both generations seem to have a growing interest in shopping in a sustainable fashion and lowering the waste generated by the fashion choices. According to a recent survey, 40% of the interviewed millennials said they plan to stop supporting fast-fashion brands.
25% of Gen Z women representatives said they are ready to start shopping second-hand. Their main goal is reducing waste and having a more sustainable approach to their wardrobe. And this is a common trend in all corners of the globe.
For instance, H&M’s quarterly reports seem to indicates that the Asian market’s appetite for fast fashion is on a decline. After years of positive growth, the manufacturer’s sales in Malaysia dropped by 1%.
In Singapore, the same manufacturer experiences a drop in sales by 10%. Due to the decrease in sales, but also some controversies regarding problematic messages printed on their clothing, the manufacturer’s shares on the Stockholm bourse have hit a 13-year low, in late 2018.
According to a series of business analysts, the company failed to adapt to the fierce competition ethical brands raise and lost terrain in the harsh war against unsustainable fashion houses. This led to its most severe decline in the past decades.
But other fast fashion brands are in the same situation, in spite of their attempts to rebrand their products are conscious and ethical.
Growing Demand For Ethical Fashion
Partaking in ethical fashion practices is a title that grows in popularity and appreciation. Brands that can pride themselves on ethical manufacturing practices and working conditions are seen positively by the overly-critical consumer.
But what does ‘ethical’ really mean and how is changing the game in the fashion industry? Do all clothing articles have to be recycled from older garments? Or are acceptable other practices as well? The ethical fashion term denotes everything under the manufacturing umbrella, from design to production and retail, and purchasing.
The trend seems to be a response to the unsustainable aspect of the industry as well as a series of other concerns.
- Exploitative working conditions in the manufacturing factories – sweatshops;
- Child exploitation and child labour;
- Unhygienic working conditions;
- Low pay for hard labour;
- Extensive use of insecticide for growing cotton in unsustainable ways;
- The extensive use of water, leading to water supply shrinkage;
- The low cost of these articles makes them disposable and this leads to landfill pollution.
Popular Ethical Fashion Brands
Although the vast audience thinks ethical fashion brands are expensive, there is a diverse range of cutting edge designers that work with the environment’s and their workers’ best interest in mind.
Looking good and being conscious has never been easier and more affordable than today. The brands below come at accessible prices, and they are entirely developed around the sustainability mentality.
- Alternative Apparel is a brand developed around the philosophy of offering sustainable and eco-friendly materials, but also using non-toxic dyes in the colouring process. The brand offers an extensive selection of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and bags and is the dreamland of the keen bargain hunter. The brand uses recycled materials and sustainable manufacturing processes. They also ensure all their workers receive proper wages for their work and have healthy and safe working conditions.
- Thought Clothing manufactures and retails a series of organic and eco-friendly men’s and women’s clothing and is established in the UK. The eco-friendly and organic items are manufactured from bamboo, cotton, and hemp, sourced from sustainable crops. The clothing offer is diverse, and interested consumers can find both basics and classy pieces, with the same ease.
- People Tree is a Fair Trade and certified organic manufacturer and retailer and is women-focused. The UK brand is one of the oldest militants for Fair Trade and one of the first UK brands to use organic fabrics and Fair Trade practices in the process. The prices of the manufacture’s articles are situated on the affordable side, making it possible for people from different economic backgrounds to contribute to the war against fast fashion.
- Kotn prides itself with a B Corp title and safe and fair labour standards. It is also one of the ethical brands that give back to the communities they are part of. The brand sells affordable and sustainable basics that can be worn every day. Besides, Kotn closely collaborates directly with farmers and pays a guaranteed price for their cotton. All products are masterfully crafted with sustainability and craftsmanship in mind and you don’t even have to replace your articles that often.