Sustainability is a new buzz word in fashion and for good reason – turns out the clothes business is the second biggest polluter in the world, just behind oil. Yep, I winced too but the facts remain- fast fashion is costing the planet. It turns out a humble t-shirt requires 3 years worth of drinking water to produce the cotton needed for it’s production alongside heavy pesticides. Not only does la mode guzzle water, creating environmental disasters where it’s produced but it also pollutes it – it is estimated that 20% of water pollution comes from the treatment and dying of textiles with harsh chemicals.
The carbon footprint isn’t pretty either- 10% of global carbon emissions can be attributed to clothes production’s long supply chains and cheap synthetic fibers emit gasses like N20 which is 300 times more damaging than CO2. An average Australian buys 27kg of new textiles every year and then discards 23kgs into landfills, mostly cheap fabrics made from petroleum that further pollute the environment when incinerated. And if all this makes you feel like you never wish to shop again, here is the silver lining; brands are hopping aboard the sustainability train at record speeds since 66% of millennials have said that they would pay more for sustainable fashion. And it’s not just staple basic brands such as Everlane or Allbirds that boast eco credentials- sustainability is getting sexy across the board. Prepare to feel optimistic as we look at some designers that exist in this exciting new sphere of fashion with our gorgeous model Rae, herself a marine biologist in training.
(Above)This bustier is made by Wynn Hamlyn who stress local, ethical manufacturing and utilize a variety of natural fibers. thus minimizing environmental impact. Susan Driver hand makes jewellery in Brisbane using sustainably sourced metals and stones whilst the bumbag is by St Xavier who practice fair trade and invest in underprivileged communities - products are handmade in Northern India generating sustainable income for 500 men and women.
KowTow is a NZ label that prides itself on utilizing organic cotton whilst being environmentally conscious and providing certified workers’ rights and safety, not to mention creating cool jumpsuits. Lingerie is by Lonely, another NZ label that has been accredited child labour free whilst protecting the environment with the safe disposal of waste materials and Jewellery is from Tiffany & Co who use sustainably and ethically sourced metals for their pieces.
The Conscious Collection is a label by the giant H&M who created this dress and earrings. They have pledged to use 100% renewable or recycled materials by 2030, are using 59% sustainably sourced cotton now and recycled nearly 18 tonnes of textiles in 2017. The coat is by Arnsdorf who rebooted after 5 years with impeccable eco credentials- the label not only has full transparency on fabric sourcing which includes organic cotton and indigo dyed denim but also on manufacturing costs and wages. The pieces are meant to be timeless- the brand offers in house fittings and lifetime repairs too. The bag is by St Xavier( as mentioned before )
Kit X is a label that has been at the helm of this movement and it’s founder Kit Willow is passionate about ethically sourced materials, developing eco fabrics and fair treatment of workers whilst creating pieces that look amazing like this dress. Temple of The Sun jewellery uses sustainably produced silver and gold plating which has either been recycled or sourced from a certified mine and produced in a boutique, ethical fashion.
Maggie Marilyn creates luxurious, modern and quirky clothes that are sustainably and ethically produced and this gorgeous dress is no exception. Byfar is a Bulgarian shoe label produced in a small Italian family factory that utilizes sustainable dead stock leather rescued from luxury Italian factories
Matches Fashion is jumping on board the sustainability movement by promoting many new designers and this dress by Kalita sees the designers utilizing sustainable materials whilst hand dying fabrics
Fashion practices are shifting but as consumers we are the ultimate creators of change so let’s choose with our wallets by supporting labels leading the way in creating a cleaner future that doesn’t give up on the fashionable factor.
This story appeared on Vogue.com.au here!
Photography: Alice Wesley-Smith
Model: Rae Rodriguez from IMG
H&M: Claire Thomson
Styling & words : Tanja Gacic