The world of fashion is changing, it is becoming more sustainable and responsible

That Gucci has limited the number of its annual collections from 5 to 2, or that many low-cost brands are adding to their organic and recycled clothing campaigns, is no coincidence.

The population is becoming more and more aware of the environment and they are betting more on products with the organic label, without plastics, unprocessed and returning more to a traditional kitchen. The new generations are more aware and choose public transport over private transport to move around the city and seek to generate as little waste as possible along with the zero waste movement.

Dorweiler
Photo: Dorweiler

Sooner or later this revolution was going to touch the world of fashion, since, according to the UN, this industry is the second most polluting on the planet and the amount of resources it needs is very high. For example, according to a study by the Polytechnic University of Madrid, between 2,130 and 3,078 litres of water are needed to manufacture a denim.

As Heather Knight, from the Fashion Revolution movement, said during the VI Sustainable Fashion Conference at the Museo del Traje, “society consumes 400% more clothes and it takes half as long to throw them away as it did 20 years ago”. Just as fast food became part of the diet of many people around the world, there is also fast fashion, which is just as harmful.

According to Ecologistas en Acción, in fast fashion we can find a large amount of chemicals that, in addition to damaging the environment in their production, also damage our skin, including many that affect our endocrine system.

The comparison of the low cost fashion industry with fast food is not at all crazy. Primark, the first fashion chain in Spain in terms of number of buyers, belongs to the Associated British Food, a British multinational in the food sector that applies the same business model to all its companies: they are cheap, they are everywhere, their quality is doubtful and they are consumed very quickly.

Capitalism with its inherent consumerism makes us want to be trendy and up to date. We buy a lot of clothes, so they must be cheap so as not to ruin us, we wear them a couple of times until they are no longer a trend and we throw them away in the next season. Comparing our dressing room with that of our grandmothers, we have a lot more clothes, but theirs, being made to measure and of good quality, felt better and lasted longer, but they were not so cheap. That difference is paid for by the workers.

On 24 April, the biggest disaster in the fashion industry occurred, the collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-storey textile factory in Bangladesh, where 1,134 workers died and 2,000 were injured out of a workforce of 4,000.

The director of the industrial police, Mostafizur Rahman, accused the factory owners of ignoring the cracks that appeared the day before the fatal accident. “The Industrial Police asked the factory owners to halt operations after cracks were discovered,” Rahman told EFE, “but they ignored our directives and decided to open their units.

Some of those injured in the accident accused those responsible for the factories of forcing them to work. “None of us wanted to enter the building, but our bosses forced us,” said Nurul Islam, one of the injured workers.

Well-known companies related to the complex pledged to pay $40 million (35 million euros) to a compensation fund; a year later they had only paid $15 million. Half of the companies had not even given anything.

As a result of this episode, Fashion Revolution was born, a non-profit association that seeks a systematic revolution of the fashion world through actions and campaigns to achieve a global fashion industry that preserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profits. They seek to change the way clothes are obtained, produced and purchased. In honor of the victims of Rana Plaza, they celebrate Fashion Revolution Week every April 24.

Many people are beginning to open their eyes and become more aware of the problems in the fashion world, both on an environmental and ethical level. A new generation of consumers is demanding added value in terms of quality and authenticity: sustainability.

Following this line, many important events have requested in their label sustainable garments to give example, as it happened in the gala of the BAFTA awards last February 2020. Although it was not required for other awards, such as the Oscars or the Actors’ Union awards, many of the attendees wore recycled dresses, such as Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Jane Fonda, Joaquin Phoenix or Margot Robbie, among many others.

The one who stands out among the big stars is Emma Watson, one of the first to go to the red carpets with sustainable garments. All the dresses she wore during the Beauty and the Beast promotional tour were certified by Eco-Age, an organization that watches over ethics in fashion. In fact, at the London premiere she wore a dress by Emilia Wickstead, made only by women with the surplus textiles of a factory and with a decent salary.

In the world of Haute Couture, the pioneer was Stella McCartney, who presented the first sustainable fashion collection on the catwalk. Everything in her collection is vegan, except for the silk, although it is extracted from the worms by means of an innovative process that avoids cooking them alive.

Years ago, eco-fashion was synonymous to ugliness, but many brands have combined sustainability and esthetics, including those making up Haute Couture. Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga or Gucci, who a month ago declared they wanted to go for slow fashion and present 2 collections a year instead of 5 as they usually do, insist that ethics and aesthetics can go hand in hand. Within the fashion sector, the French conglomerate of luxury companies Kering stands out, the most sustainable company in the fashion industry with brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent or Balenciaga.

The demand for more responsible fashion has also reached low-cost brands. A few years ago, Zara launched a new collection called Join Life, in which they work on new processes and raw materials to help them reduce the impact of their products.

Slow fashion’ appears, the response to the exaggerated consumption and production of fashion.
The search for an environmentally sustainable and ethical fashion with its workers begins.
Brands are following a more conscious line.
That Gucci has limited the number of its annual collections from 5 to 2, or that many low-cost brands are adding to their organic and recycled clothing campaigns, is no coincidence.

The population is becoming more and more aware of the environment and they are betting more on products with the organic label, without plastics, unprocessed and returning more to a traditional kitchen. The new generations are more aware and choose public transport over private transport to move around the city and seek to generate as little waste as possible along with the zero waste movement.

Sooner or later this revolution was going to touch the world of fashion, since, according to the UN, this industry is the second most polluting on the planet and the amount of resources it needs is very high. For example, according to a study by the Polytechnic University of Madrid, between 2,130 and 3,078 litres of water are needed to manufacture a denim.

Fashion Week Madrid: Is it sustainable to be fashionable?

As Heather Knight, from the Fashion Revolution movement, said during the VI Sustainable Fashion Week at the Museo del Traje, “society consumes 400% more clothes and it takes half as long to throw them away as it did 20 years ago”. Just as fast food became part of the diet of many people around the world, there is also fast fashion, which is just as harmful.

According to Ecologistas en Acción, in fast fashion we can find a large amount of chemicals that, in addition to damaging the environment in their production, also damage our skin, including many that affect our endocrine system.

The comparison of the low cost fashion industry with fast food is not at all crazy. Primark, the first fashion chain in Spain in terms of number of buyers, belongs to the Associated British Food, a British multinational in the food sector that applies the same business model to all its companies: they are cheap, they are everywhere, their quality is doubtful and they are consumed very quickly.

Capitalism with its inherent consumerism makes us want to be trendy and up to date. We buy a lot of clothes, so they must be cheap so as not to ruin us, we wear them a couple of times until they are no longer a trend and we throw them away in the next season. Comparing our dressing room with that of our grandmothers, we have a lot more clothes, but theirs, being made to measure and of good quality, felt better and lasted longer, but they were not so cheap. That difference is paid for by the workers.

On 24 April, the biggest disaster in the fashion industry occurred, the collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-storey textile factory in Bangladesh, where 1,134 workers died and 2,000 were injured out of a workforce of 4,000.

The director of the industrial police, Mostafizur Rahman, accused the factory owners of ignoring the cracks that appeared the day before the fatal accident. “The Industrial Police asked the factory owners to halt operations after cracks were discovered,” Rahman told EFE, “but they ignored our directives and decided to open their units.

Some of those injured in the accident accused those responsible for the factories of forcing them to work. “None of us wanted to enter the building, but our bosses forced us,” said Nurul Islam, one of the injured workers.

Well-known companies related to the complex pledged to pay $40 million (35 million euros) to a compensation fund; a year later they had only paid $15 million. Half of the companies had not even given anything.

As a result of this episode, Fashion Revolution was born, a non-profit association that seeks a systematic revolution of the fashion world through actions and campaigns to achieve a global fashion industry that preserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profits. They seek to change the way clothes are obtained, produced and purchased. In honor of the victims of Rana Plaza, they celebrate Fashion Revolution Week every April 24.

Many people are beginning to open their eyes and become more aware of the problems in the fashion world, both on an environmental and ethical level. A new generation of consumers is demanding added value in terms of quality and authenticity: sustainability.

Following this line, many important events have requested in their label sustainable garments to give example, as it happened in the gala of the BAFTA awards last February 2020. Although it was not required for other awards, such as the Oscars or the Actors’ Union awards, many of the attendees wore recycled dresses, such as Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Jane Fonda, Joaquin Phoenix or Margot Robbie, among many others.

The one who stands out among the big stars is Emma Watson, one of the first to go to the red carpets with sustainable clothes. All the dresses she wore during the Beauty and the Beast promotional tour were certified by Eco-Age, an organization that watches over ethics in fashion. In fact, at the London premiere she wore a dress by Emilia Wickstead, made only by women with the surplus textiles of a factory and with a decent salary.

In the world of Haute Couture, the pioneer was Stella McCartney, who presented the first sustainable fashion collection on the catwalk. Everything in her collection is vegan, except for the silk, although it is extracted from the worms by means of an innovative process that avoids cooking them alive.

Buscher
Photo: Buscher

Years ago, eco-fashion was synonymous to ugliness, but many brands have combined sustainability and esthetics, including those making up Haute Couture. Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga or Gucci, who a month ago declared they wanted to go for slow fashion and present 2 collections a year instead of 5 as they usually do, insist that ethics and aesthetics can go hand in hand. Within the fashion sector, the French conglomerate of luxury companies Kering stands out, the most sustainable company in the fashion industry with brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent or Balenciaga.

The demand for more responsible fashion has also reached low-cost brands. A few years ago, Zara launched a new collection called Join Life, in which they work on new processes and raw materials to help them reduce the impact of their products.

Zara is working with the NGO Canopy and other companies in the textile sector to ensure that old and protected forests are respected in the production of fibers such as rayon and viscose, and its products will not contain fibers from old forests or forests in danger of extinction from 2020. They also use chemicals that do not endanger health or the environment and guarantee zero discharge.

Almost 10 years ago, H&M launched Conscious Collection, a range of garments made from more environmentally friendly materials such as organic cotton, Tencel and recycled polyester. From this collection they try to raise awareness about fashion consumption and innovate in it, such as using new vegetable fabrics or producing a zero waste dress. Like Zara, they also have points in their stores that are set up to collect clothes and recycle the fabrics.

Following Zara, as it also belongs to Inditex, Bershka is committed to ethical fashion with its Join Life collection. Using more sustainable practices and setting several goals for the years 2020, 2023 and 2025 such as having eco-efficient stores, eliminating plastics, sustainable packaging, 100% sustainable production, zero waste and that 100% of its fabrics are sustainable.

One of the latest to join sustainable fashion has been Mango with its permanent capsule collection Committed. This collection is part of the Take Action project, which encompasses all initiatives aimed at creating a business model in line with sustainable criteria and processes with less environmental impact. It uses sustainable materials and fabrics and the garments are produced in “local” factories in Portugal, Turkey and Morocco.

Slow fashion’ appears, the response to the exaggerated consumption and production of fashion.

The search for an environmentally sustainable and ethical fashion with its workers begins.

Brands are following a more conscious line.

There are also Spanish brands that are dedicated to creating 100% sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion, as is the case with Ecoalf. This Spanish brand is committed to the planet, to the ecosystem and to people. In addition to choosing materials with low environmental impact, they also use garbage as a raw material to minimize the consumption of natural resources, creating high quality garments.

Due to their high commitment, both to people, the environment and animals, their garments do not fall under the low cost category, but with the benefits in 2015, Ecoalf through its Foundation and with the support of HAP Foundation, embarked on its most ambitious project: Upcycling the Oceans, a global adventure that will help eliminate marine debris from the bottom of the oceans thanks to the support of fishermen.

Dressing sustainably doesn’t have to be expensive, just like eating sustainably, but you have to know how to do it right. Second-hand and vintage shops are a good start, but we can also reuse our own clothes and reduce the frequency with which we buy them by opting for sustainable, quality clothing.

To recognize whether a brand is sustainable or not, you have to look at whether the fabrics are organic, whether they have environmental certifications, whether they are eco-designed, whether they have little waste, whether they don’t use toxic materials, whether their packaging is sustainable, whether they have fair working conditions, whether they participate in fair trade, whether they are locally produced and whether they support social initiatives.