Fashion Industry: the challenging transition to a sustainable consumption

Fashion Industry: the challenging transition to a sustainable consumption

The transition to sustainable fashion consumption still faces some challenges. Consumers are increasingly aware of ecology issues and major brands have opted to explore alternative synthetic textiles. However, the fact that there’s no universal agreement on what constitutes a sustainable fabric is hampering the whole process of change.

According to Grètè Švėgždaité, “a high level of consumer education about fabrics and sustainability is crucial for effective change in the fashion industry”. The problem is that “the uncertainty regarding clear criteria for sustainable fabrics constitutes a dilemma for fashion consumers”. That is because “they are not always able to understand which clothes are really sustainable and which are just a product of greenwashing”, the designer clarifies.

Fabrics that used to be seen as a symbol of quality – leather, fur, and silk – are becoming controversial due to the non-vegan fashion approach.

What we should analyze on the clothing labels

A survey conducted by McKinsey showed that: 88% of the respondents support measures to reduce the pollution. At the same time, 67% feel themselves more inclined to buy a product if it is produced with sustainable materials. The question is, non-having a universal accord, how do we can interpretate a piece as sustainable or no sustainable?

Although the concept of sustainable clothing differs from continent to continent, the fashion industry is slowly becoming unanimous on several essential criteria. Such as: the fabrics must come from natural origins and have only one fibre on their composition. This ensures that these textile products can be recycled at the end of their life cycle. Alongside that, the sustainability of the garment also depends on a fair payment for the workers who make them and the way the animals that give rise to the raw material are treated.            

Švėgždaité, designer and founder of leisurewear brand Gretes, remembers that “you only have to analyze the clothing labels to confirm its sustainability”, based on the criteria that were already specified.   

Natural vs synthetic fabrics 

Peta promoted a competition that challenged the participants to find a vegan alternative to wool. The initiative heated up the debate about what’s the sustainable fashion and if the natural is really “environmentally friendly”.

The conclusion they came up to was that “not all natural fabrics can be considered sustainable and not all the artificial fabrics should be pointed out as a threat to the environment”. That’s because, as we already said in this article, it’s not only the origin of the fabrics that determines their sustainability.

Many clothes, made from synthetic textiles, are not considered sustainable because of the way their life cycle ends. “Only a small part of the artificial raw materials can be recycled”, alerts Grètè Švėgždaité. In consequence, adds the designer, “the probability that the clothes will end up in a landfill and remain there for a hundred of years is significantly high.

However, let’s focus on the artificial fabrics that are respectful throw the environment. On the spiderwebs, for example, that, defends the founder of the Gretes, “is not only cruelty-free, but could also be an excellent substitute for silk”.