I’ve now started working on my thesis and I’ve noticed that there’s a few words and terms I keep trying to avoid. One of them is sustainable fashion. It’s a term I use a lot but now I’ve started to ask myself, what does it really mean? What are we trying to sustain? Sure, you can use less toxic materials and ensure that the people making the clothes get a fair wage and safe work environment but if you’re pushing out a dozen collections a year, is that really sustainable? When fast fashion companies can claim that they’re making sustainable fashion, does the term have any meaning anymore? I know this is an unpopular opinion but there’s nothing sustainable about fast fashion, the business model is based on exploitation and over-consumption.
I would argue that the best way forward and a way stop all the greenwashing nonsense is to focus on transparency. This will not go down well with many, fashion is all about illusions after all but if we truly want to change this industry transparency is the key. Who’s making the garments? Who’s making the materials and what methods and chemicals are they using? Who owns shares in what company and who’s picking the models for that show or magazine cover? It means looking at power structures without blind folds and finding out who’s that subcontractor’s subcontractor’s subcontractor really is. It’s not about being perfect but being honest about the past, the present and the future. Being honest with ourselves as consumers and creators but also demanding this from companies and lawmakers. Only then can we make the big changes in the fashion industry that have to happen.
What are your thoughts on the term sustainable fashion?