From stylists to circular-design strategists, we ask those who support the sustainable fashion industry to describe in their own words what ‘sustainability’ means to them.
We’re All In This Together
Once upon a time, Free People stylist, Laura Sanderson told The Wellness Feed, “Sustainability means thinking big picture, being in tune with how your individual choices impact others, and thinking beyond just yourself.”
Her answer resonates with many of the brands we feature here. Katie, the designer behind the jewelry and homewares brand, Loft & Daughter, handpicks each artisan collective and supplier she works with for their role in empowering women in the community. Sustainability is heartfelt in that it’s about making the kind choice when it comes to impacting others.
Reformation, the cool girl brand that every sustainable fashion blog, website, magazine, etc. features, shares the same commitment to the people who make their clothes. When I emailed them about how they’re supporting their garment workers through the Covid-19 crisis, they responded, “We have been working with our suppliers to gain a better understanding of how they and their workers have been impacted by the Coronavirus. We continuously analyze and improve our purchasing practices based on feedback from our suppliers and will continue to strive towards improvement, especially at moments like this.”
Protect The Land. Preserve The Land
Do you know how much water your favorite pair of jeans suck up? The average pair of jeans requires around 1,800 gallons of water to produce. What’s worse is that those same pair of jeans also pollute the drinking water for the local communities they’re produced in. Brands such as Everlane focus on sustainability by processing their jeans in clean factories that recycle water to prevent waste and eliminate toxic dyes to preserve locals’ drinking water.
“To me, sustainability is based on three pillar models; ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC, and SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS.” ~ Belinda Smentana, founder of Sustainable Fashion, and Travel
No Living Creature Shall Be Harmed
Wool has become a controversial material among ethical activists lately. Yes, it’s biodegradable, but due to the demand for wool animal welfare is not always placed as a priority. Yet, the designing duo behind the accessories brand, Kin The Label only partner with farms that see their animals’ health and welfare as priorities.
“Sustainability means that we use materials that don’t harm animals in the process. We have and only will use wool in our hats. Our factory partners with a farm in Texas that uses human shearing practices.” Ashley, Co-Founder, Kin the Label
Waste Not. Want Not.
Another brand that we greatly admire, is Parley for the Oceans. They’re not a brand that you buy as much as they are a brand that you support. What they do is educate people about the harm caused by ocean plastics and host clean-up events to collect discarded plastic bottles from our oceans and beaches. Then, some of those bottles are turned into items like Nike sneakers, puffer coats, and even a cool t-shirt or two.
Sometimes sustainability is simply about using what we already have to make something new.
IF THE OCEANS DIE, WE DIE. Captain Paul Watson
Going Back To Our (SLOW) Roots
This idea of excessive consumption spurred on by fast fashion is relatively new. Prior generations knew how to sew their clothes or mend a button or hole when needed. Capsule wardrobes weren’t a thing because having less than 20 pieces in your closet was normal. Yet, thanks to the rise of brands like H&M and Zara, fashion can move at a dizzying pace, and so do our closets. The downside is those quickly made clothes are quickly discarded into quickly-growing landfills.
Given how unsustainable our recent fashion design process has become, it’s not surprising that many sustainable fashion brands are looking back to our roots. From natural dyes to hand-stitching embroidery, the past holds the answer for some brands like the luxury handbag label, Mayura, about how to be sustainable.
Peruvian textiles use dyes that are completely organic which we learned about during a workshop she attended in Peru. African mud cloths are dyed with fermented mud and stenciled with wood pieces for Mayura’s pieces.
“Our grandparents and parents bought fewer clothes than us. They would mend and make their clothes last. Something, the rest of us are now going back to.” Lavanya Garg, Co-founder SUSS.