For conscious customers, fashion is not only a medium to express themselves, but also expressing what’s good for the planet. With more awareness about fast fashion being a huge contributor to the climate crisis, we’re seeing many sustainable alternatives emerge for customers to make more responsible choices. With slow fashion on the rise, here are the top five sustainable fashion trends to look out for:
Low Impact Materials
A fabric is said to have a low impact when it’s made from materials that are as natural, durable, and mendable; produced without pesticides or other toxins; made locally, and with locally-produced materials, and dyed with non-toxic, natural dyes.
For example, Lyocellfiber (produced under the trade name Tencel) is biodegradable and compostable and the production process has a low environmental footprint. Conscious designers also use hemp, cork, bamboo, and even seaweed to make ethical, vegan clothes.
Another example of a low-impact material would be Hemp. It’s made from the fibers of the flax plant. When grown in geographically suitable areas, such as Europe, there is no need for pesticides or fertilizers and it requires much less water than cotton and is good for soil health.
Sustainable Supply Chain
Fashion companies and labels need to look beyond just materials to truly make an impact on the health of the planet. For a company to have a sustainable supply chain means having to actively integrate environmentally, socially, and economically innovative practices into their manufacturing and distribution processes. This means procuring ethically sourced raw material, choosing quality over quantity, and keeping the production local. It would also entail exploring new inventory models that enable brands to predict demand better, for example: shipping small batches of experimental fashion, before quickly ramping up production if they prove popular.
Circular design as a concept is creating a garment or a product with the next use in mind. It means designing products with the notion of resource efficiency, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and recyclability in mind. They should also be sourced and produced with priority given to recyclable sources and ethical practices. When the products are not suitable for recycling, the material should be biodegradable and used as compost for plants and other organisms in the ecosystem. Circular fashion is enabled by re-using and up-cycling the garment, and enabling reselling and swapping of products that have not reached their end of life.
Fashion meets Tech
Embracing new technologies can help shape a sustainable future in fashion. An example of tech helping to reduce the eco-footprint would be 'on-demand design and manufacturing'. This entails solving size and fit issues to reduce the frequency of return, and increasing personalization whenever possible. Creating alternate fabrics which require less water for production, or converting fashion waste into compost are also technological practices that the brands should adopt to go the sustainable way.
Transparency over Greenwashing
What we need in 2022 is buying from brands that are accountable for the ecological impact of their production process. Instead of ‘greenwashing’ i.e. using PR tactics or marketing gimmicks to seem more sustainable than they really are, brands need to be transparent about their production process and the carbon footprint at every step of their supply chain.