What Does It Mean To Be A Sustainable Fashion Brand?
What is sustainability?
The sustainable fashion movement suggests both eco-friendly and ethical practices from a fashion brand. Recently, this has become a buzzword that is commonly used by both high fashion and fast fashion brands as it becomes a must for a company’s corporate social responsibility. Nowadays, brands have pledged to stop using fur, use recycled materials for their products, and even switching to carbon neutral production processes. In theory, sustainability in the fashion industry is a good thing. Currently, 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are from the fashion industry. By 2050, this number is predicted to increase to 49%. As well as that, most clothes are thrown away after seven to eight wears. So, recycling these fabrics and reducing greenhouse gas emission should be sustainable and create a greener fashion industry.
The problem with sustainability
Sustainability is a vague term, with no set definition. Similar phrases like ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ also remain vaguely defined. Unlike the term ‘organic’, for a fashion brand to be considered sustainable, there are no certifications to prove that the company has sustainable practices. Even more so, for a company to be considered ‘sustainable’ they should have both eco-friendly and ethical practices in all areas of their production. However, this is difficult to confirm because of the finer details needed to make clothes, such as threads and buttons. In the case of fast fashion brands, it is common that they would advertise using organic or recycled materials but have unethical practices in their factories for example paying below minimum wage. This makes the company unsustainable, but consumers would think otherwise because they advertise the sustainable materials that they use for their clothing.
Because of this, it is hard for consumers to understand whether the clothes they are buying are actually sustainably produced. Consumers are likely to assume that the company is telling the truth, which could make them fall victim to greenwashing.
What is greenwashing?
As sustainability rises in the fashion industry, so does greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company advertises misleading information about their company, suggesting that they use eco-friendly, ethical practices in production. A report by the Changing Market Foundation found that 60% of brands in the fashion industry use sustainability claims about their company, however this turned out to be greenwashing. Although brands claimed to be a sustainable fashion brand, for some brands the recycled materials were only a small percentage of the fabric, and the majority was still synthetic material. Synthetic materials lead to microplastic pollution in the ocean, making them harmful to the environment.
Responsible fashion brands are aware that by being a fashion brand, it is impossible to be completely sustainable in every practice. Even by creating new clothing, pollution and the creation of new waste is involved. But responsible fashion brands focus on creating ethical and eco-friendly products where possible and to the best of their abilities.
Our brand is called TET Responsible Wear because we acknowledge the environmental impact of the fashion industry and the creation of new clothing. However, we are transparent and use sustainable and ethical practices where possible. At TET, we also work as a slow fashion brand. The clothing we design are made to last.