Fashion industry and the big sustainable push- All you need to know

The focus for sustainable fashion is not just limited to the environment, it ensures government-sanctioned wages for all the employees, proper working conditions- health services, no extra working hours, no child labour, and no worker exploitation. 

fashion and style
 Min read
March 17, 2022

In the 21st century, amid the evolving market space, leaders can no longer thrive with just dollars as their prime focus—if they want to stay relevant they need to be aware of their business’s impact on the world. They need to adopt policies centered around sustainable practices for the environment while working on conscientious awareness of workers’ rights across all operations.

Sustainability- a word which is now being widely used, in layman’s terms means, meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. How? Without giving up any of the three essential pillars- environmental protection, social development and economic growth.

The origin of sustainability

The term sustainability is derived from the Latin word- sustinere which means to hold. However, the concept of sustainability first appeared in the Brundtland report, published in 1987. This document was also referred to as  and was explained at the United Nations (UN) to warn about the negative environmental consequences of economic development and globalization. It was written with the aim of offering solutions to the problems arising from industrialization and population growth.Our Common Future

 Fashion world and sustainability 

The fashion industry is currently responsible for 4-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year, as per a Mckinsey report. And fast fashion is making the situation even worse. However, to combat this massive contribution, ‘sustainable fashion’ is now becoming the ‘Mr Fixit’ for the industry. 

It is also an umbrella term used for clothes that are curated and consumed in a way that can be sustained and the process of fibre to fashion mustn't have harmed the environment in any way. That’s why cutting CO2 emissions while production of fabric/cloth, addressing overproduction, reducing pollution and waste, supporting biodiversity, and ensuring that garment workers are paid a fair wage are all crucial to sustainable fashion. 

However, labelling a garment ‘sustainable’ means all the above-mentioned parameters are fulfilled.  

Image credit: Shutterstock

Why sustainable fashion is the need of the hour? 

Well, the world, your environment needs sustainable fashion. 

Sustainable fibre to fashion creates way less waste than any regular fabric to garment process would do. Globally, there’s one garbage truck of textile waste dumped at a landfill or burnt every second. In comparison, sustainable fashion’s prime focus is less wastage, quality clothing and they do not follow trends of fast fashion. 

The focus for sustainable fashion is not just limited to the environment, it ensures government-sanctioned wages for all the employees, proper working conditions, health benefits, no extra working hours, no child labour, and no worker exploitation. 

The fashion industry is also said to be one of the largest water consumers in the world today. It is not only consumed for washing garments but also during manufacturing, dyeing, and finishing processes. Just to put things into perspective, it takes about 2,720 litres of water to make one cotton shirt and a whopping 7,000 litres to make one pair of jeans!

While making a purchase of a sustainable garment you are contributing to saving water, as all sustainable brands have ‘use water on budget’ policies, they have tweaked their procurement and manufacturing processes accordingly. Moreover, sustainable fashion prioritizes organic textiles made from linen, hemp, and organic cotton, that require little to no water during the production phase.

 Will the sustainable fashion market grow?

As per a report by The Business Research Company, the global ethical fashion market has reached a value of nearly $6,349.9 million in 2020, having increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1% since 2015.  The ethical fashion market is expected to grow from $6,349.9 million in 2020 to $10,109.9 million in 2025. And the growth has been attributed to growing awareness about using ethical fashion for sustainability.

Now people are conscious of what they consume and have begun questioning whether or not companies source their raw materials and labour ethically. Along with noticeable changes in customer preferences, luxury fashion brands like Gucci have also set an example by going fur-free in 2018. Gucci influenced several other brands to immediately follow its lead, shifting fashion away from the previously ubiquitous material found across luxury products.

Experts believe that next year, retailers are likely to accelerate their climate ambitions by overhauling their most carbon-intensive processes opting instead for natural-based solutions and digital innovation. 

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