"What does that REALLY mean?" is a Sh*t That I Knit blog series that offers insights into things that you feel like you should know about, but are afraid to ask. Don't want to get into a heated argument about something semi-controversial? Feel like you should know what it means when someone talks about annuities? These are the types of topics that we'll cover in this series...okay, maybe not annuities; apparently those are super boring...
So what does "sustainable fashion" really mean...In order to understand "sustainable fashion", it might be easier to start with some context for why this term has become so popular as of late.
The reality is that the fashion industry has not historically been known for being environmentally conscious. And as brands deal with the mounting pressures to lower costs and speed up production times, things like social and environmental impact have dropped on the priority list, resulting in a trend commonly referred to as "Fast Fashion". In their article, "What is Fast Fashion", our friends at GoodOnYou explain the history of fast fashion and the negative impact that some of these learned behaviors are now having on a global scale. (We highly recommend reading this for more details on this topic.)
Sadly, there are lots of scary statistics about the negative social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry. One that stood out to us? According to the World Resources Institute, "making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles." That's only 1 PAIR!
BUT, there is good news - the industry is becoming more and more aware of these facts and many companies, brands, and business owners are dedicated to making a change. In August, leaders representing over 30 companies and 150 brands signed on to a new climate change commitment, referred to as the "Fashion Pact." The goal is to ensure that these brands are reporting annually on their progress when it comes to sustainability and the climate.
Consumers are becoming more educated on these topics as well. According to the Global Fashion Report Pulse Report, "for the first time [in 2019] most consumers include sustainability considerations in their decision-making framework." That's huge! If consumers are more educated on this topic, then more companies will have to change their ways.
From our perspective, the term "sustainable fashion" can be used to describe practices within the fashion industry that are focused on improving the environmental footprint, the processes and materials used to make garments, the sheer number of styles within a collection, and/or the treatment of workers that are part of the production process. Everyone is worried about the environment, and it's no secret that the fashion industry is a huge player in our declining situation. But the good news it that there are SO MANY companies and brands out there who are trying to make things better.
Whether it's using higher quality materials, paying higher wages to garment workers, or simply just making better products that will last longer, there are so many fashion brands challenging the old ways of thinking and trying to be better. What are a few of our favs? So glad you asked...
- Stella McCartney: I consider Stella one of the founding fathers of sustainable fashion. She's made it a personal and corporate mission to change the way her company and the industry looks at their environmental footprint.
- Everlane: Everlane's tag line is "Modern Basics. Radical Transparency" and, man, do they deliver on this. The materials they use are ethically sourced, and since day one, they are incredibly transparent about how their products are priced. They do release products regularly, but with this level of honesty, it's something we can get behind. (Also, I personally own several Everlane products and they really do stand the test of time.)
- Reformation: Reformation has sustainability at the center of their business. They recognize that there is a lot to be done, but they've identified "Product, People, Planet, + Progress" as their four main areas of focus. They've even built out a 5-year sustainability framework that basically walks you through their plans and goals for each of these categories. To be honest, I didn't know about this until I was doing research for this blog, so now I cannot wait to support this brand.
- Rothy's: Another brand that I'm a consumer of and their shoes are amazing, but the impact they're having on the environment is even better. All of their shoes are made using recycled, single use plastic bottles. As of September 2019, they've taken over 30 million plastic bottles and repurposed them for their collection. The shoes are super comfortable too (which is always a plus in my book.)
- Sh*t That I Knit: I'd be remiss if I left ourselves out of this list since all STIK products are made using sustainable materials - ie. merino wool and alpaca. Both of these materials are considered sustainable because of the way they are sourced, and not to mention, the quality of these materials is top-notch. In addition to our products, we also take care of our people. We employ over 170 women to handcraft our products. These women are able to knit from home AND earn a livable wage for their work. (Plus, the beanies are cute!)
While the realities of the environment can be pretty scary, I like to stay hopeful by making small efforts to be more sustainable. No one is going to be perfect, but by being more cognizant of our buying habits, we, as consumers, can have an impact on how companies produce and sell their products. So, in future when you're at a dinner party and someone is talking about sustainable fashion, you now officially can speak for at least 30 seconds on the topic. Yay!
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