Looking good: sustainable fashion goes mainstream

We’ve seen consumers become more and more engaged with eco-friendly and sustainable clothing as they’ve taken a growing interest in where and how their garments are sourced. This shift signals that the dominant model, where shoppers enjoy cheap, fast-fashion clothing, is looking increasingly shop-worn. Instead, ‘green has become the new black’ and eco-friendly initiatives have inspired shoppers across many nations to swap disposable fashion for long-lasting items that can be cherished for years.

Buying ethically never felt easier

Several high street brands are already making advances in this sphere, providing highly accessible ways to buy into sustainability. Gone are the days of itchy, lumpy, hemp clothing; sustainable fashion can now be attractive and comfortable. ASOS is committed to reducing its impact on the planet by working with eco-friendly and global initiatives. ASOS’s Eco Edit offers genuinely amazing and wearable pieces through a variety of ethically conscious labels. Fat Face’s company Code of Conduct ensures its factories abide by rules governing child labour, discrimination, working hours and health and safety. Meanwhile, H&M’s Conscious Exclusive Collection pledges that every piece is made from sustainable materials, including Bionic (a polyester made of plastics recycled from shoreline waste). By 2020, the company aims to secure all its cotton from a sustainable source. Its motto neatly encapsulates the movement’s appeal: “looking good should do good too”.

Sustainability goes up in the world

The reach of this trend extends to luxury brands such as Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney, both of whom have partnered the Ethical Fashion Initiative in helping to deliver essential change. The EFI’s goal is to bring about a more responsible industry where workers can earn a living wage and have dignified working conditions. Westwood has recently created “Save The Arctic” organic, unbleached cotton t-shirts in support of Greenpeace’s conservation campaign. An exhibition that aims to raise awareness of this issue is currently being held alongside the escalators at Waterloo Station – close to the London HQ of Shell, who are due to start drilling in the Arctic this month.

As the conversation surrounding fashion’s footprint develops, brands will doubtless learn of new types of eco-innovation – such as bio-based textiles derived from renewable, plant-based ingredients rather than petroleum. In this climate retailers will no longer be able to see sustainability as a fringe issue to be dealt with in a tick-box manner. Customers care about where and how their products are made, and they are increasingly aware that this needn’t mean any loss of style or fashionability. Smart retailers must be alive to the fact that the sustainability phenomenon looks set to sustain.



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