How Sustainable Fashion Can Save The Earth One Dress At A Time

How Sustainable Fashion Can Save The Earth One Dress At A Time


It’s true that there is a sense of joy and fulfillment to see your designs come alive and consumers becoming confident upon wearing it. But it’s also a fact that the process of which—especially in fast-fashion—is one of the world’s top pollutants. 

RELATED: Fashioning The Future: How To Keep Up With The Speed Of Fashion

The behind-the-scenes workings of the global fashion and textile industry are not pretty. We’ve already heard a lot about unethical working conditions and emissions of toxic chemicals. Yet there are still a lot of people turning a blind eye.

With fashion being a means of communicating oneself through what we wear, various marketing tactics rose and prevailed. Stylish, affordable clothing has been a major trend for consumers all around the globe. In effect, their behavior has been greedy due to their fear of being left behind on how they look.

Consumers have always wanted to present themselves as someone who can keep up. They want to remain relevant in what—or rather who—they wear. From the brand’s logomania trend to posting your #ootd on social media, it has been innate in almost everyone to compare oneself to others. Why? Because the message of these profit-hoarding companies is this: if you’re unhappy and you want to solve your problem, then consume things; after which, tell the world how life successfully treated you well with your new haul.

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Capitalism At Its Finest

With billions of people in the globe hoarding for clothes the whole year round—especially during Christmas in which the consumer’s buying power is at its peak—countless unwanted clothes are eventually being put to trash. And before these clothes can decompose, it will take around 200 years.

This happens because the business models of the majority of the fashion retail labels are only linear instead of a circular business model. A linear economy works according to the “take-make-dispose” step plan. The latter model’s approach uses the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

But since fast production of trendy clothing for low prices follows a linear business model, it becomes problematic. And as various fashion companies have a globalized production, it only becomes worse.

According to John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want from the documentary “The True Cost,” a globalized production means all of the makings of goods has been outsourced. Fashion companies are going to several locations where they can get the cheapest possible price for the production of a dress. If they cannot close a deal with a sweatshop for USD4 per dress in China, they’ll look for another in Bangladesh. These retail companies do this, because in the long run what really matters for them is profit.

This only forces a great number of sweatshops in Asia to accept what these fashion companies want to pay per dress. Once they are able to snag a low cost for production, huge retail labels are then able to sell their clothes at a cheaper price, catering to the fast-fashion trend. But this does not stop there.

Youtube became the future platform where moving visuals are more alluring than still advertisements on Facebook. We have seen the rise of the vlogosphere. And taking the lead in the digital sphere are influencers. They are showcasing how brilliant and blessed they are which only solidifies the term “i-Generation.”

From “what’s inside my closet” to “look at my latest shopping haul,” people are starting to tell others to focus on them. They are presenting themselves and feeling like someone who’s rich as they are able to buy countless apparels—thanks to a globalized production. However, looking at the bigger picture, the real winners here are none other than the profit-hoarding companies.

Closing The Loop

While the linear model has been prevalent in many economies globally, there is still hope. We can still save the Earth one dress at a time. And this can be achieved through sustainable fashion.

According to a Swedish cross-disciplinary research programme Mistra Future Fashion, rather than putting a stop to the phenomenon they propose that fast-fashion could become even faster. Their research underscores the importance of materials that are adapted for different garment lifespans. By using biodegradable materials such as textile fibers from the forests, it will make fast-fashion more sustainable.

Another means to achieve sustainable fashion is by reusing and recycling old clothes. And leading the charge for sustainable fashion in the fast-fashion industry is Swedish retail giant H&M. They now have a circular model and started a garment collecting initiative. This will help decrease the waste and close the fashion loop.

They are breathing a new life to all the unwanted garments through recycling. So instead of throwing away worn, torn, or outdated clothes that could end up in the landfill, the label encourages everyone to give it to their local H&M store regardless of their clothes’ brand. And whenever consumers donate clothes for recycling, they’ll receive a voucher with a discount.

Now that we have more perks as we recycle.  There is no more reason to turn a blind eye and make ourselves happy consuming things while leaving the planet decaying. If we act now, the future generations will still be able to see the authentic beauty of Mother Earth. And it’s also just high time that all fashion labels—both local and international—become more conscious and responsible in making a more sustainable fashion future.

Learn more about how other Swedish retail brands made the fashion industry more circular in both production and consumption as well as witness some of H&M’s archive pieces displayed at the Fashion Revolution exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. It will run from January 30 to April 30, 2019.

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