The issue of climate change is one that appears to be intensifying which means we really need to do something about it. Using renewable and recyclable products is always at the forefront of ways to tackle climate change, but the conversation rarely includes the clothes we wear. Fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, second to energy. Due to the rise in fast fashion, over consumption is rife meaning a great amount of waste is produced. These wasted clothing items, which are dumped in landfills, tend to contain dyes and toxins that are harmful for the environment. In addition, the amount of water used to produce clothing is extremely high; 2,700 gallons for one cotton t-shirt!
This all points to the fact that the clothes we buy have a great impact on the environment. Our desire for cheap, trendy clothing is doing more harm than good to our planet. So, what can we do about it? The onus falls on both the consumers and the designers as there must be sustainable options for us to purchase. With the rising concern for the future of our planet, several brands have opted for more sustainable practices in order to reduce their impact on the crisis.
Stella McCartney could be seen as a pioneer for sustainability as her brand was built around this ethos. Growing up vegetarian and being an avid campaigner for animal rights, McCartney has always had sustainability close to her heart. All her stores, offices and studios are powered by wind and energy. Recycling is also a big aspect of the brand as they strive to use recyclable materials in their collections. McCartney also enjoys discovering new technologies and methods to improve the sustainability of her brand, as she did in her collaboration with Adidas. This collaboration resulted in the brand’s most sustainable collection yet with the materials being 70% recycled. Another method McCartney uses to reduce waste is to design garments that people want and will not want to throw away. Once an outlier in her industry, it seems that other luxury fashion brands are taking a hint and improving their sustainability efforts.
Tala is an activewear brand dedicated to offering on-trend, affordable, high-performance activewear that is 100% upcycled. This means that all their garments are made by transforming waste materials into new clothes; saving an average of 14 litres of water and 750 grams of carbon dioxide per item compared to non-recycled materials. In addition, their labels are 100% plantable paper and their packaging is recyclable.
One of the first high street labels truly engaging in sustainability is H&M, launching its conscious collection in 2010. This collection features trendy and stylish pieces that are designed to promote the use of recycled materials in the fashion industry. H&M is constantly creating new, sustainable materials to produce their garments, the latest being orange fibre, bloom foam and piñatex. Whilst this collection stands out for its materials, the designs and prices are still classic H&M, displaying that you do not need to break the bank or change up your style to help the environment.
These three brands are a great example of how the fashion industry can reduce its significant impact on the environment. Sustainability is not limited to these brands and more are beginning to comprehend just how substantial this issue is. However, this is just the start, there is still a long way to go to improve the sustainability of the fashion industry. But it appears that we have taken that crucial first step to a greener future.