What do you think of when some says the phrase “sustainable fashion”? Hemp? Bamboo? Beige asymmetrical tunics that your high-school art teacher would have worn?
Well, unfortunately the buzz-word that is sustainability is thrown around all too often. While those stereotypically ‘sustainable’ fabrics or garments do perhaps have a small footprint they surely don't draw a full and well rounded picture of what sustainability is and what it means to lovers of all things chic.
In relation to fashion, sustainability refers to a process that can economically, environmentally and socially sustained. That is to say you could continue said process time after time, year after year and it would not leave its mark. It relates to all aspects of fashion not -as often assumed- only to the fabric. For example many man-made fabrics like nylon while they uses minimal water in their manufacture, can only be disposed of in land fill and do not biodegrade making them unsustainable. Whereas cotton will biodegrade over time but uses a very large amount of water to produce it often times leaving the areas where it is produced contaminated by chemical-rich run-off water.
Fear not however O fashion loving eco conscious friends, for with the growing knowledge and transparency of the fashion industry's dangerous practices comes innovation and a determination for change. More and more wildly talented people are inventing or reworking practices to make them as sustainable as possible. Some of these practices are already in use, and by increasingly larger companies.* So the day when Chloé announces that it's following in Patagonias footsteps and introducing its own "earth tax" can't be too far off.
My point being that every man and woman could and one day hopefully will have a good overall understanding of what buying sustainable fashion means and how it really and truly affects us all and that it has very little to do with hemp... Most of the time.
*To list these progressive companies and their practice here would take far too long and no one likes a drawn out blog post, but if you want to learn more about them I suggest you drop by http://katefletcher.com a visionary of sustainable design with ever increasing knowledge of current industry practices.