The need to be sustainable: A variety of reasons are behind the global urge to go green in fashion. Conservation of nature is the main reason; while ensuring social as well as economic well being and a sustainable future for humanity are the other meaningful incentives.
Natural development happens in all surroundings, societies and systems. In the modern landscape, development is pacing at unimaginable speeds, which can easily be credited to the advancement of technology. The problem, however, is that people are not collectively looking at the cons that come with unbalanced economic growth. Sustainable development is when economic development occurs without harming or depleting the environment. With the fashion industry being the second most responsible collective for creating environmental degradation there is a need to integrate sustainable ways in carrying out various tasks and operations.
The term ‘modernization’ is a heavy one. It is the phenomenon whereby a country switches from a traditional society to an urbanized and industrialized society. When this occurs, the country undergoes a lot of changes. The economy, geography, beliefs and values are the elements that are seeing transition.
Modernization has brought about developments in the fashion world too. Majorly, the introduction of fast fashion. Fast fashion along with a shorter product lifecycle is also unsustainable .
According to reports, the bright colours used in fast fashion are resultants of chemical dyes that ultimately flow into the water, hence in countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, fashion industry is responsible for being the 2nd largest water polluter.
Another report of 2017 published by International Union for Conservation of Nature confirms that 35% of microplastics in the ocean is due to the washing of synthetic fabrics. The UN itself states that 10% of global emissions come from the fashion industry. Following the World Resource Institute in the year 2015, the polyester production for textile alone released 706 billion kg of green house gases.
The recently proposed ban by France on burning or burying of non biodegradable luxury goods is another evidence that the apparel and fashion industry are major elements of environmental destruction. With 80% of discarded clothes ending up in landfills and only 20% being recycled or reused there is definitely a need to keep the fashion industry on the check radar.
Apart from bringing about degradation in the environment, the fashion industry faces enough controversies on unfair trade and wages. The fashion communities are always under the ethical checklist. Especially after the mishap in Bangladesh, The Rana Plaza collapsed killing more than 1,000 clothing factory workers and injuring about 2000 of them. Another findings published on a knitwear factory in Bangladesh stated that the workers were made to work under unhygienic conditions of poor lightings, exposure to electrical wires and chemicals and lack of ventilation.
The report of India in 2011, Along with physical abuses such as beatings, the workers have a minimum working hours of 14 a day. Wages are as low as $30 -$39 monthly, these skilled labourers are highly underpaid for the hard work they put in.
Sustainability was viewed as a bohemian trend earlier, but in the contemporary scenario, a new pool of fashion designers are creating brands with sustainability and fashion at the significant core.“Sustainability is all about having a larger understanding of processes,” says Samantha McCoach, a designer whose brand LeKilt was created after she learnt the trade from her grandmother, a Scottish kilt-maker.
New designers like Anna Foster, founder of E.L.V. Denim, has created her brand by designing vintage jeans into perfect fitting new styles and doing this in collaboration with London-based manufacturer – Blackhorse Lane Atelier, a factory that diligently practices environmental and social sustainability.
Indian fashion designers are not far behind, with brands like Pero by Aneeth Arora, Shift by Nimish Shah and Nicobar by Good Earth there is integration of sustainability in fashion.
Anuj Sharma, an Indian designer pioneered the concept of ‘Button Masala’, where he sells garments that can be worn in many styles. He, in his initiative to reduce wastage also imparts the skills for ‘Button Masala’ through workshops.
There are many other designers like Gaurang Shah, Anju Modi, Samant Chauhan who are sustainable and work to revive the ancient Indian art through ethical means.
Global Urge to go green in fashion – Worldwide initiative
Well-known global initiatives are promoting sustainability as a concept and sustainability in the context of fashion. The United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion is one such worldwide initiative, brought forward by the United Nations along with other organizations. It is formulated to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals by informed action in the fashion industry. This covers clothing, leather and footwear derived from textiles and other goods. The Alliance works on production of raw materials, manufacturing of garments, accessories, footwear and their distribution, consumption, and disposal.
We are living in a time when a celebrity can reach his/her fans through simply sharing a post or story at the touch of a button. So, it is safe to say that digitalization has a gigantic impact on everything. In the era of digitalization trends, the biggest one being the Internet, along with many other innovations, new ways to integrate sustainability are being created. Many campaigns like #whomademyclothes, #haulternative and the fashion influencers talking about sustainability are spreading awareness and changing the behaviour of the consumers.
Dedicated websites namely, fashionrevolution, fabricoftheworld, Iknockfashion and others play a key role in providing information about sustainability in fashion.
With channels like youtube, people have gotten a platform to showcase what they see and make others also watch about the unethical practices that are prevalent in this industry.
The dire need of the global urge to go green in fashion is a worldwide concern that is being initiated upon by many in different ways. Consumers are changing their buying patterns, designers are inculcating sustainable measures in their garments, influencers are creating awareness about it and retail chains are becoming more and more transparent every day. With the collective impact of all the elements and aspects, there can be an establishment of a greener fashion industry.