Consumer habits are changing, and responsible shopping is becoming more prominent. This is a particular focus on the fashion industry where cheap, throwaway clothing is being replaced by high-quality investment pieces that have been made ethically.
The fashion industry is constantly evolving, with new trends coming in every season. But, one recent focus is that of sustainability. This makes sense when you consider that Lyst’s Year in Fashion 2018 report revealed a 47% increase in searches related to environmentally friendly products, including vegan leather and organic cotton. And, this isn’t surprising given the increasing media coverage and the number of documentaries being created to highlight our planet’s dwindling health.
But, how are brands dealing with the growing demand for a more sustainable shopping experience? Here, I will be discussing the ways in which the fashion industry is adapting, and the changes your business can be made to become more environmentally friendly.
A shift to sustainably made materials
Some of the most common materials in fast fashion are the most damaging to our planet, polluting our natural resources and sending landfills into overflow. From avoiding water-intensive fabrics like cotton to banning materials derived from harmful chemicals, designers are now focussing on more sustainable ways they can bring clothing to their customers.
For example, Levi’s famous jeans are using 96% less water than normal denim finishing. This has saved more than 1.8 billion litres of water, and more than 129 million litres have been recycled.
Other brands, including Belstaff, have started using faux fur, rather than the real deal, while others are focusing on using ethically sourced wool, cotton, recycled textiles, and leather alternatives. Although some of these materials can be more expensive, brands are open to using them to show their passion and care for the environment.
Designing for longevity
Although it can be easier to pick up a few trendy pieces from the high street and not worry about the cost when they go out of fashion, buying sustainable pieces will ensure you get value for your money. Plus, WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan has revealed that creating clothing that lasts just three months longer can reduce the carbon, water, and waste impact of the fashion industry by 3%.
With this in mind, brands are moving towards making more quality pieces that customers will love and want to look after. There are a number of ways they’re doing this, including offering the customer the chance to be involved with the design process. For example, many footwear brands make use of create-your-own software to ensure customers are getting exactly what they want. This also increases the likelihood that the customer will hold onto the shoes for years to come, protecting the planet in the process.
Adopting circular economy principles
Sustainable fashion isn’t just about what you buy, but also what you do with clothes you no longer want, and for many brands, this means adopting circular economy principles. These principles place an emphasis on finding new ways to design, make and use things in a more sustainable way. This includes keeping products and materials in use and placing an emphasis on natural systems.
According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, following this new system can reduce carbon emissions by 48% by 2030, and save millions of pounds. And companies are certainly getting on board, with designer brands like Levi’s offering a place for customers to donate their old clothing, so the material can be reused.
Designer brands, including Nudie Jeans, are focussing on reducing toxicity. For example, they now use 100% organic cotton and have recently replaced their signature leather patch with a recycled paper version.
Replacing wasteful packaging
It’s not just the products themselves that can be wasteful, but also the packaging that orders are sent out in. And, retailers are becoming more conscious of the impact these boxes and bags can have on landfills. As a result, many are creating alternatives to plastic and encouraging their customers to reuse packaging.
At Psyche, we send out our orders in recyclable cardboard boxes and bags to minimise the amount of unnecessary plastic we use and improve our sustainability.
All brands should be taking steps towards sustainability, and hopefully, this article has given you some inspiration for making your brand more environmentally responsible, no matter how big or small your company might be.
What are the steps you think the fashion industry should make to become more sustainable? Share your thoughts with us on the comments below!