In the fashion world, “sustainable” is a term that’s often thrown around without always having a clear meaning. A big reason for that is due to the fact that sustainability is more complex and incorporates a range of objectives from manufacturing processes to fair wages to managing waste. Overall, the goal of this design philosophy is to consider our social responsibility as consumers and brands, and to find ways to minimize human impact on the environment. Below are six different segments of sustainability in fashion and some of our favorite brands and boutiques working to improve the industry.
One of the biggest issues in the fashion industry is the amount of waste it produces. Millions of tons of clothing wind up in landfills every year, not to mention the amount of manufacturing waste that comes from leftover fabric and all the deadstock pieces that never hit the sales floor. Many designers on Garmentory are combating waste by using fabric made from recycled fibers, repurposing existing materials, and creating products from leftover scraps. See some of our favorites, below.
By sourcing raw materials close to home, designers are able to keep costs (both financial and environmental) low while investing in their local community. There’s less transportation of goods involved, thus lowering the overall carbon footprint. And by buying fabrics and other supplies from businesses in their community, brands are able to support their neighbors and surrounding economy while forming IRL relationships. The brands below look locally when creating each new collection.
Speaking of finding materials close to the source, another way of designing sustainability is to use natural fabrics and dyes. Hemp, wool, bamboo, and other fabrics are made from renewable resources, and organic fabrics (like cotton) are produced without any toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically modified seeds. Synthetic fabrics, however, are made using chemical processes and, oftentimes, petroleum-based fibers. The process of creating natural fabrics has a lower impact on the environment, not to mention that they’re more easily recycled. As a next step, natural dyes made from plants, clays, roots, and minerals also lack potentially harmful chemical processes. The following designers keep it natural on Garmentory.
Buying secondhand clothing is as sustainable as it gets because it keeps pieces in circulation and out of landfills—not to mention you’ll have something totally unique and special. Looking for a piece no one else will have? Explore some of these vintage shops on Garmentory.
A commitment to providing fair wages and safe working conditions is another important tenet of sustainability, particularly when manufacturing in countries that have lax regulations when it comes to workers rights. Many designers partner with local artisans, providing them with an opportunity to cultivate their craft while making better wages to support themselves and their families. This sustainability practice helps to combat global poverty and preserve traditional manufacturing methods. The brands below are committed to creating an environment that uplifts their workers.
Let's see what we can do about that.