How Sustainability Is Changing The Face Of Fashion: When fast-food multinational, McDonald’s opened a restaurant near the historic Piazza de Spagna in Rome in 1986, culinary professional Carlo Petrini started a movement to protest the globalization of fast food.
The idea was to move away from rootless fast food to eating fresh traditional cuisines– and this started the slow food movement. Similarly, the concept of slow fashion borrows core ideas from the slow food movement, which are applied to the fashion industry, slowly changing the face of fashion through sustainability.
The term slow fashion was coined by ecological design consultant Kate Fletcher in 2007 when she announced that this was not a seasonal trend like animal prints or sequins, but about making a shift in the way fashion is structured. Sustainable fashion is alternatively called a slow fashion. It’s about both designers and consumers adopting a more sustainable way of thinking.
Sustainable fashion involves producing products that could go on for a long period of time, with very little impact on the environment. It refers to when clothing, shoes, and accessories are manufactured, marketed and consumed in the most sustainable way possible, keeping in mind both environmental and socio-economic aspects.
In practice, this includes constant efforts to improve all the stages of a product’s life cycle – starting from design, raw materials, manufacturing, logistics, marketing and sale to use, reuse and recycling of the item.
Everlane, the San Francisco based fashion retailer, has been working towards removing virgin plastic from its entire supply chain. The brand’s denim products are made in a factory in Vietnam which recycles 98% of the water used in denim manufacturing and turns any chemicals used in the process into bricks for constructing affordable houses.
Ethical fashion is something that is not only good for the environment but a movement that is gaining popularity and revolutionizing the fashion industry over the globe. In the Indian fashion landscape too, brands like Pero by Aneeth Arora, Shift by Nimish Shah and Nicobar by Good Earth among others are making consumers familiar with the concept of sustainable or slow fashion.
The shift doesn’t just focus on conserving the environment but also the cultural identity of the crafts. From organic cotton, khadi and signature textiles from master weavers, designer Nimish Shah creates collections of tops, dresses, light jackets and hand knits that are sustainable and on-trend. From organic cotton to natural dyes, Nicobar stocks thoughtful pieces that don’t just have the creative edge of a rich culture but keeps with the principles of slow fashion as well.
A report by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that 15 million tons of textile waste were generated in 2013, from which a majority was discarded. Textile wastage sounds like an exaggeration, but there are immense possibilities for designers to reuse discarded fabrics.
Designer Kriti Tula’s brand, Doodlage, uses deadstock and industrial waste with organic cotton and sustainable materials. In their Autumn Winter 2016 collection, they substituted corn and banana fabric for traditional cotton and yarn.
From big designers to small-scale independent designers, the core values that make up the slow fashion movement suggest a complete change of production and consumption. This approach has led to various changes in recent years, mainly in the production of clothing and in consumer behavior too.
The connection to the well-being of the environment, the growing awareness of the sustainable fashion space and most importantly – the rise of the intelligent consumer, are a few things about the slow fashion movement that are shaping the future of fashion.
As opposed to fast fashion where companies imitate styles and trends seen on the runways at fashion weeks and recreate them at a much lower price and quality to sell to the mass market; slow fashion encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and minimal or zero waste.
It’s fair to that say slow and sustainable fashion is necessary, with brands like H&M burning 12 tonnes of unsold garments per year despite its ongoing sustainability efforts to close the loop in fashion.
As sustainability continues to weave its way into the fabric of the society, designers and brands have taken notice and are incorporating new sustainable methods in their ideas and collections.