Even if you aren’t up to date on all things fashion, you know that fast fashion is turning out to be a huge environmental problem. With unprecedented amounts of waste and pollution, it feels like starting a clothing line is an ethical dilemma. It doesn’t seem like the tide is turning anytime soon, right?
Let’s stop you right there.
Starting your clothing line doesn’t need to have a dire environmental cost. The more you focus on sustainably and ethically made clothes, the more we can begin to steer the industry away from fast fashion and towards creative sustainability.
But first, what is sustainable fashion, anyway?
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion is made with environmentally-friendly clothing manufacturing practices. Creating sustainable fashion and clothing also uses natural fibers, like wool, linen, and organic cotton.
It’s right there in the name: sustainable. Can your clothing line last? With fast fashion, where production aims to maximize the quantity and minimize quality, the answer is a grim, resounding ‘no.’
Fast fashion companies communicate to the consumer that you can easily discard and replace garments at a moment’s notice. It may be easy on the wallet, but not the environment.
According to the World Bank: ‘Less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new garments. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that every year some USD 500 billion in value is lost due to clothing that is barely worn, not donated, recycled, or ends up in a landfill.’
To us, that’s just not acceptable.
But it’s one thing to want a sustainable fashion line; it’s another to actually commit to one. Let’s explore what goes into creating a sustainable clothing line in the fashion industry.
Sustainable Fashion and Natural Fibers
Sustainable fashion is made using organic fibers and fabric, eschewing costly textile dyeing methods and manufacturing. Along with more sustainable materials like cotton, there are even more to choose from when starting your own clothing line. And these more sustainable fibers don’t sacrifice quality, either. Many are sturdy, water-resistant, and versatile.
For example, something as common as hemp, silk, and even bamboo have considerable sustainability.
With custom clothing orders, you have a greater chance of having a say in which sustainable fibers and fabrics make up most of your clothing line.
What Are the Most Sustainable Fabrics?
When shopping around for ethically sourced fabric, there are numerous options. Let’s look at some of the most sustainable materials available in fashion design to help craft your ideal clothing line.
Sustainable Fabric Made From Organic Cotton
While cotton itself is more sustainable than most other fibers, there still exists pesticides and other contaminants. According to Andrea Plell of Remake, “…conventional cotton accounts for 25% of the insecticides used worldwide. Residue from these poisons transfer from the soil…making their way into the fibers of our conventional cotton clothing.”
Organic cotton offers clothing manufacturers the opportunity to skip the possible poisons and opt for the best form of cotton they can work with. It’s also highly versatile.
An extremely resilient plant, it requires little water, small room to grow, and doesn’t need pesticides or other chemicals.
Sustainable Fabric Made From Tencel
Tencel is a newer, eco-friendly fabric perfect for fashion designers looking for something that reduces water usage. When you learn just how much water goes into every aspect of textile production, you realize that this fabric is a godsend for sustainability in the fashion industry.
Some notable fashion brands that actively use Tencel in clothes are Tradlands, People Tree, Madewell, Eileen Fisher, and Patagonia.
With TEG, Jennifer Evans ensures that she hires local Los Angeles clothing manufacturers rather than relying on factories of the Global South with ethically questionable working conditions. Couple these dubious labor laws with relaxed production regulations, and you have a recipe for disaster.
But by creating local jobs, Evans allows seamstresses, pattern makers, and fashion designers in Los Angeles the chance to be part of something that has a positive impact.
Final Thoughts on Sustainable Fashion
Launching that clothing brand you always wanted doesn’t mean you have to settle for a damaged environment. Let’s instead get creative, reducing our negative environmental impact, and crafting some memorable fashion.