Why Is Sustainable Fashion Important?
We all talk the talk when it comes to ethical clothing, but do many of us actually walk the walk?
With clothing marketed as “green” or “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” to meet the values of the consumer without meeting the definition of their green labels, greenwashing is a serious issue we can only counter with (at times, brutal) honesty.
But before we dive into why brands are so conscious of appearing sustainable, let’s explore why it’s so important to have the earth in mind when creating fashion in the first place.
Do You Know What Sustainable Fashion Really Means?
According to Sustainable Jungle, “Sustainable and ethical fashion is an approach towards sourcing, manufacturing and designing clothes which maximises the benefits to the fashion industry and society at large, while at the same time minimising its impact on the environment.”
In other words? We’re keeping our fashion high and our carbon footprints low to do our part to work toward a more sustainable future.
The ethical clothing movement has risen at exponential rates recently, with the broader societal shift to more sustainable practices. Not only are we being more responsible with how we dispose of our waste (thank you, soft plastic recycling and composting!), we’re taking a step back and considering how our purchasing behaviours impact the cycle.
Instead of simply recycling, we’re taking care to purchase quality over quantity. We’re doing our research to make sure the brands we shop for care for our earth as much as we do. On
the whole, we care more about becoming a sustainable society, so we use our consumer power for the greater good.
We’re putting our money where our mouths are to support brands who are making a positive difference.
This means we’ve seen a beautiful rise in ethical clothing brands here in Australia and all over the world. But with the rise of sustainable fashion, we’ve also seen a rise in brands who are claiming to save the world without actually doing their part.
It All Comes Down To Greenwashing
Have you heard the term, “Greenwashing”?
Cambridge Dictionary defines greenwashing as something designed to “make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”.
In the fashion industry? It refers to how brands market their clothing lines as “ethical”, “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” when there’s no evidence to support these claims.
As companies try to keep up with the everchanging modern values, they’re quick to slap a label on a product and feel like they’ve successfully kept modern and on trend. What strikes us as particularly misleading is that most fabric is made overseas then shipped into Australia, so while the fabric may be considered sustainable, the process from creation to the sale isn’t sustainable at all. This is greenwashing at its finest.
Greenwashing is rife within all industries, looking to profit off misleading marketing materials to prompt consumers to support brands for the wrong reasons.
Which is why, as businesses and brands, we need to fulfil our responsibilities to tell the truth.
If we want to label ourselves as sustainable, we need to take the actions to become sustainable.
And as consumers, if you want to support sustainable brands but are afraid of being greenwashed, here are some things you can look out for.
What Does Ethical Clothing Look Like?
Ethical clothing encompasses a wide range of practices, from the fabric-sourcing process to the fair and equitable conditions for the people who made them. The process from ideation to creation to customer satisfaction is a lengthy and involved one, which is why it can be so easy to greenwash (and to be greenwashed!).
When you’re looking for the ethicality of an item or brand, you can start by going straight to the source. To put it simply, just ask them! Ask them how they make their clothes, who makes their clothes and how much their makers are being paid. If you can find an impact report, that’s even better, because it’s less likely to be overshadowed by feel-good buzzwords that’ll fool even the savviest of sustainable shoppers (and we’ve all been there!).
Sustainability, on the other hand, looks more at the clothing itself. When we lean into this sustainable clothing arena, there are an abundance of online resources available to help identify sustainable brands, with Australia’s own Sustainable Choice showcasing big Aussie brands and what they’re doing for sustainability!
You can also keep it simple and look, feel and understand the fabrics your clothes are made from, because the fabrics don’t lie.
Here are a few handy hints to guide you in the right direction:
No leather is good leather. Unless it’s recycled leather, the chances are it’s not eco-friendly.
Recyclable, renewable materials are our friends. Think: linen, hemp, Tencel or silk.
Find natural dyes. Textile dyes are often toxic and a source of pollution, so natural dyes are the way to go.
When in doubt, do your research. You might not always get it perfect, but every step toward more ethical and sustainable fashion is a step in the right direction!
With the ever-increasing emphasis placed on ethical clothing practices, it’s important to seek out brands who are not only talking the sustainable talk, but walking the sustainable walk (and preferably, doing it with a little bit of style, too!).
That’s why ethical clothing is at the core of all we do here at SOMAIA COLLECTIVE, with our own line ethical and made right here in Australia. We’re focusing on prioritising sustainable practices and, as a small business, doing our part at fabric selection while also ensuring our clothes are versatile, size inclusive and remain affordable.
While we can’t promise we’re 100% sustainable from the foundation, we’re starting strong and will only continue to improve as we grow, because we care about doing our part for the planet.
Become a Woman Of SOMAIA and join the movement!