Sustainable fashion is the hottest topic in fashion right now. The term appears everywhere.
- Brands use sustainable fashion as a philosophy.
- The experts, as a method of production.
- The academic, as a theoretical concept.
- But what is sustainable fashion, and why is everyone talking about it?
Here's a simple, yet comprehensive explanation of what sustainable or eco-friendly customised clothing (in spanish: ropa personalizada ecológica) means in various contexts.
I have also detailed why sustainability is so fundamental to the future of fashion and global well-being.
What does "sustainability" mean?
The term "sustainability" refers to any system designed to exist in a balanced state. In an ecological context, sustainability is achieved when everything that is extracted from the environment can be renewed. However, over the past century, humans have altered the ecological balance. The invention of tools and technological advances allowed us to consume natural resources at an accelerated rate.
Today, we consume 20 times more energy than the era of the pre-industrial revolution. More than 95% of this energy comes from non-renewable resources such as oil, gas, and coal.
As part of the natural environment, our survival depends on ecological sustainability.
What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development is the path to sustainability.
The Brundtland Commission first defined 'Sustainable Development' in its famous report, 'Our Common Future' in 1987: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In this context, sustainability means sustaining a healthy economic, environmental, and social system for human development.
The three dimensions of this proposed system - economic, environmental, and social - are called "Pillars of Sustainability. As such, an economic system can remain balanced in the long term only when the rate of consumption of resources is kept at the same level as their renewal and, at the same time, a sustainable economy requires a stable social construction. Sustainable fashion appears in several terms: sustainable fashion and other terminologies such as ecological fashion, ethical fashion, ecological fashion, etc.
When applying the concept of sustainability to fashion, 'Sustainable Fashion' can be defined as a system in which the supply, production and consumption of fashion products have been designed to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability.
As the definition implies, sustainable fashion is not limited to a mere product, but is a philosophy that also encompasses design processes, supply chain strategies and consumption practices.
There are several terms that are being used by brands, professionals and academics to explain the different notions that underlie the concept of sustainable fashion. Such as eco-fashion, ethical fashion, organic fashion, green fashion, vegan fashion, etc.
This variety of terms and in some cases the inconsistency of definitions derives from the novelty of the sustainable fashion theme that leaves this concept open to interpretation.
Complications of the road to sustainable fashion
The immaturity of sustainable fashion as an emerging concept has made our journey towards developing a more sustainable industry a challenging topic of debate.
To date, in the context of sustainable fashion, the fact that there is no general standard or guideline for corporate or consumer responsibility adds to the confusion in defining sustainable fashion and prioritizing its initiatives.
However, in this regard, some efforts have been made to provide primary tools for standardizing garment manufacturing processes around sustainable production and consumption.
One such tool is the Higg Index from The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a leading alliance for sustainable production in the textile, clothing and footwear industry.
In addition, the definition of "fashion", which means "trend" in general and the change of style and the replacement of the old by the new in particular, denotes a certain discrepancy with the concept of sustainability.
Fashion at one level raises the idea of excessive consumption, while sustainability implies minimizing consumption to the level of need. This perspective sees sustainable fashion as a self-contradictory term, which calls for a fundamental change in the development of sustainable fashion.
Sustainable fashion as a movement
Since the 1987 UN report "Our Common Future", the catastrophic impact of human activities on the environment has been the focus of many debates.
Today, more studies and reports warn us of the reduction of natural resources and the spread of pollution as a result of our production and consumption patterns.
As such, consumers have become more aware of their health, social well-being, the vulnerability of our planet, and the consequence of their actions on the well-being of future generations.
Along with these changes, all industries have been affected by sustainable development initiatives and have been forced to act in that direction.
In particular, in the apparel industry, where the production and consumption of fashion products involves toxic waste and harmful environmental effects at all stages, making the development of personalized, environmentally friendly and sustainable clothing (ropa personalizada uniformidad) not only an opportunity but also a necessity.