Beauty & Fashion - October 6th 2021

Why You Should Switch To Sustainable Fashion

Written by
Malin Jones

Sustainable fashion has come a long way over the years. You can forget the image of a newspaper dress or something you’d spot in a Rupaul’s Drag Race design task. Now its materials made from pineapples, bags made from cactuses, or even simpler, a t-shirt made from sustainable cotton.

Whilst sustainable fashion gains momentum, fast fashion still dominates our high streets, malls, and online shopping while negatively impacting the environment. As reported by Down to Earth, the textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. The fast fashion industry is also an industry of exploitation; many factories are situated within poor, less developed countries where they can take advantage of cheap labor. Let me know if you’re still happy with your purchase once you find out that fast fashion companies pollute and poison rivers near factories and underpay workers who work in poor environments with few health and safety measures.

Fig. 1. —  Jean Malek, 2019 — Courtesy of Please Don’t Tell 


Rio Lecatompessy, 2020, Ciawi, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia Courtesy of Unsplash

We also have a major cultural issue when it comes to fast fashion in the sense that it’s glorified on online platforms. Influencers take to YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to share their overindulged hauls from Zara, Shein, Romwe, etc, with most purchases answering the need to fulfil microtrends. Whilst some luxury designers/brands are working to rid the concept of seasonal collections and trends, the fast fashion industry seems to be ignoring this movement. Since 2000, European fashion brands went from releasing two new collections per year to up to 24 at present.

The perverted glorification of fast fashion has most recently been praised through the fast-fashion brand ‘PrettyLittleThing’ announcing their new creative director, influencer Molly-Mae Hague. Many were outraged as she is an individual who can afford to pay that little bit more for sustainable clothing, yet she chooses to glamourize fast fashion.

Younger generations really do put the environment at the forefront of their concerns and are looking to change their behaviours to positively impact the environment. As reported by McKinsey, 48% of millennials and Gen Z’s intend to buy more second-hand fashion after the pandemic. As the world begins to open again, what better time to start shopping sustainably than the present?

The great thing about sustainable methods of apparel shopping is that it drives individuality and self-expression. Not only do you find pieces that have lived a story and that are unique, but you also get more satisfaction from the purchase knowing it’s good for the environment. One of the problems with fast fashion is that it gives only a short sense of satisfaction. In addition, it’s almost uniform in the sense that people will buy trends constantly, resulting in the creation of a population of doppelgangers.

A surge in sustainable fashion has created a domino effect, driving the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly clothing care products, delivery services, and packaging. The switch to sustainable fashion is a great lifestyle choice, and the sooner the better.

The sustainable fashion industry still has a long way to go as many of these items are more expensive. The industry currently holds a class divide, meaning high prices exclude the working class. Fast fashion companies are jumping off the backs of this to draw in new customers and help their brand identity.

In recent years, fast fashion brands have created ‘sustainable’ collections to cater to sustainable shoppers. But within fast fashion companies ‘buzzwords like conscious, eco-friendly, clean, and responsible are bandied about without statistics to back them up’ says retail and fashion industry adviser at Carbon Responsible, Erica Vilkauls.

Pascal Meier  Courtesy of Unsplash

Greenwashing is a major concern not only for consumers who value transparency on this issue but also for the environment as the fast fashion industry continues to produce over 92 million tonnes of waste per year even though they may produce small ‘sustainable’ collections.

Freshly made sustainable clothing is expensive, there’s no doubt. But there are so many other ways you can support the sustainable fashion industry that doesn’t break the bank. Whether it’s traipsing through thrift/charity shops, going on eBay or Depop, or even supporting small, ethical brands through Etsy. It’s a lot easier to avoid fast fashion than you think.

Sustainability doesn’t always have to mean people’s old unwanted garments; it can also be luxurious. Many online luxury retailers now sell pre-loved designer items as well as independent online stores selling eco-friendly, high-quality products.