not a trend, but a movement. Creating fashion that is mindful to all involved, especially the environment. Innovating and finding ways of avoiding dependence on natural resources in the long run, to “sustain” and maintain an environmentally friendly balance.
Ethical fashion – similar to sustainable fashion, “ethical” pertains to behaviour which can be considered morally right, so ethical fashion focuses more on how fashion impacts society and those involved with the industry – from minimum wages to the use of animal products and welfare, factory and working conditions to diversity.
Fast fashion – how DO fashion brands make identical copies of runway looks days after they first appear? Fast fashion! The mass production of cheap and low quality garments so that consumers are able to shop seasonal trends one week and throw them away the next. This is a huge contributor to pollution and overflowing landfills.
Slow fashion – the sustainable way to shop in the world of fast fashion. It values quality, not quantity, encouraging less waste and longer durability, taking into account better treatment of those making the garments and the environment we live in.
Minimalism – “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” said William Morris. Essentially, it is simplicity, removing unnecessary clutter and stripping back to basics. There are varying levels of extremity, but it is about not having any more than you need.
Greenwashing – the dishonest use of marketing to make a company appear more ethical and eco-friendlier than they really are. Consumers are misled into thinking they are shopping consciously, but the company is funding its advertising more than any “green” ventures.
Circular fashion – in a circular fashion industry, waste is an unknown concept. It is the practise of recycling and reusing garments so that they are not made simply to just end up in landfill. Clothing is “circulating” for as long as it can be.
Carbon neutral/offsetting – a company can offset their carbon emissions by carrying out an environmentally friendly project to effectively “balance” the bad with the good, making them carbon neutral i.e. the level of greenhouse gases they produced has been offset by the number of trees planted. If only it were that easy!
Microplastics/microfibres – the Marine Conservation Society defines microplastics as being less than 5mm in size, mostly originating from synthetic textile fibres. Due to their microscopic nature, they are found everywhere– in our food, water and our bodies.
Fair trade – not just a campaign, but a societal shift. Improving the way we do business with and treat local farmers and labourers in developing countries – in terms of fairer prices paid for their produce and better working conditions so they can lead a decent quality of life.
Living wage – a wage considered appropriate for a decent standard of living. For workers over the age of 25 in the UK, the wage is £8.72 per hour and comparatively in India, it is only around £110 per month. The cost of living is comparatively cheaper, but many workers still do not earn enough for this to be considered a decent standard of living.
Rana plaza – referred to as a “mass industrial homicide”, in 2013 the Rana Plaza commercial building collapse killed over 1000 people and brought attention to the unsafe working conditions that so many have to put up with. Since the tragedy, accords have been signed and plans put in place to tighten and improve safety measures in Bangladesh.
Diversity and inclusivity – making sure there is a fair representation of races, minority groups and genders and all different types of people – whether that’s shape, size, height and age. It is about recognising and most importantly valuing things that make us different, so that everybody has a chance and a voice. Whether a company employs this within their workforce, their models, their charitable efforts, it is essential to celebrate and include everyone.
Recycling – this is the process of taking waste or unwanted goods and converting it into brand new items. Increasingly, brands are starting to introduce ranges made entirely from recycled textiles and offer discounts for customers who donate materials instore.
Upcycling – the best way to pass on an unwanted present… or turning rags to riches! Upcycling means taking items and giving them a makeover and new lease of life. This is commonly seen with painting old furniture or repurposing old clothes – sustainable and cost-effective.
Traceability– this is simply the ability to trace a production process from the very beginning, including where the materials have come from and who has been involved in the manufacture. Greater traceability leads to greater transparency.
Organic – in fashion, organic refers to garments made with materials that do not involve harmful chemicals like pesticides and at no stage in the life cycle do chemicals enter the environment. Sometimes, organic can be an attractive buzzword and marketing ploy.
Vegan– the change sweeping the world. If something is vegan, you can be rest assured it doesn’t contain or use any animal products in manufacture. In the fashion world, that means no leather and wool, for example, as leather is the hide of cattle and wool typically comes from sheep. This should also mean the goods are cruelty-free.
Cruelty free – like vegan produce, cruelty-free keeps animal welfare in mind. However, cruelty-free does not always mean the product is vegan (absent of any animal products). For example, a body wash may not be tested on animals (cruelty-free) but contain honey (not vegan!).
Second hand – think charity shops, Depop and car boot sales. Second hand is what it says on the tin, the garments are not “new” and have been owned before. This is one of the most accessible and easiest ways to shop sustainably in the 21stcentury, and often you can grab a real bargain.
Biodegradable – something that is biodegradable is able to naturally break down and decompose without releasing any harmful substances or posing a threat to the environment. Popular biodegradable materials include bamboo, cork and hemp.