Is it possible to buy fashion without compromising the environment? To answer this, it's important to understand what sustainable fashion truly means.
A comprehensive study on the environmental impact of apparel and footwear industries, demonstrated that over 8 percent of greenhouse gases can be attributed to the fashion industry and if things don't change, by 2050 this will rise to 25 percent of the entire global carbon budget!
So, HOW does fashion impact climate change? The magnitude of carbon emissions take place at the mills where the fibers are spun into yarn and weaved to make fabrics. More than 75 percent of the carbon footprint in the entire lifecycle of clothing manufacturing takes place there. This means a company is only doing “sustainability” if they are lowering the carbon footprint of their mills.
With the enormous wastefulness of runway show sets, luxury markets, and fast fashion, responsible designers and retailers are shifting from the existing model of "take-make-dispose" to a newer circular model that considers the reusability of products and materials. Fashion companies championing circular design, ensure their clothes are made using recyclable materials and that their production process treats workers fairly and ethically.
Circular design also takes into account the importance of the consumer in the fight against our environmentally harmful fashion industry. The average consumer buys 60 percent more clothing today than 15 years ago, according to the “State of Fashion 2019” report by McKinsey & Co. and the trade publication the Business of Fashion.
A circular fashion consumer, is a person who values each clothing product and all the natural resources used throughout its manufacturing process. Circular consumers also consider the longevity of each fashion item aiming to hold on to it for as long as possible with the intent that nothing goes to waste and everything is utilized, reutilized, repurposed and recycled sustainably.
SLN's Take Home Message
To answer our original question, yes - it is possible to buy fashion without further harming the environment. It starts with intentionally buying clothes from retailers and designers that are taking action and committed to circular fashion. This means we all need to become circular fashion consumers!