Brands started to care about sustainability. This doesn’t mean you do too

The interest in sustainable fashion increases for buyers as well as for brands. In 2018 big names from the fashion industry started to work toward becoming sustainable, but this doesn’t make us sustainable buyers.

I believe in a sustainable lifestyle. I am also a hypocrite for saying that after buying a pair of lavender pants from Zara.

Why? Because I never thought at the story behind those pants. What kind of brand I am supporting? Are we (me and the brand) believing in the same values? Are the rights of the people who made those pants respected?

Fortunately, Zara is one of the brands who started to take action in doing less harm to the planet. For example, they are using 100% renewable energy in their offices, as they stated on their official website. Zara, also, took the initiative of installing collection bins across all stores in China, in order to recycle the unwanted clothes, according to the State of Fashion 2018 by Business of Fashion (BoF).

During the London Fashion Week 2018, the importance of sustainability was highlighted by Stella McCartney, who is already known for not using animal leather or fur. This year, McCartney is making one more step in becoming more sustainable. She is choosing to work just with fibers produced in an ecological process, because some synthetic fibers are produce in harmful way for the planet, according to Vogue UK.

Another representative brand for the fashion industry, Gucci, decided that it would no longer use mink, fox, rabbit, Karakul lamb, and raccoon dog, as part of its new 10-year Culture of Purpose sustainability plan, this according to Refinery 29. On the same page with the influential brands and no animal fur is also, Versace. According to Vogue, Donatella Versace stated that starting with this year the brand will no longer use animal fur. Which was a bold move from a brand who didn’t make statements about sustainability, but rather avoided this topic along the years.

So, the changing is slowly happening, from the more affordable brands to the luxurious ones. Millennials should be thrilled, right? Since, they are well-known for their interest in sustainability.

Actually, their interest is one of the reasons which drives the brands to do these changes, millennials being the biggest sector of buyers as Luna Atamian Han-Petersen argues in an article for the Business of Fashion. She also stated the fact that because of a lack of affordable products and a lack of clear marketing, this interest in suitability is not seen, as expected,  in the purchases of millennials.

So, we want sustainable fashion. Brands started to do something in that direction, but we do not inform about this aspect before buying something. Can we just blame the price or that there are no tags that say how the clothes were made?

Wishing to have everything deliver under our noses is one of the reasons why everything is moving so slow.

Fashion revolution is a global movement fighting for a transparent, sustainable and ethical fashion industry. They encourage people to use the hashtag #whomademycltothes, to post on Instagram pictures of what brands they wear, tagging them and asking them #whomademyclothes? Other than that, people are encouraged to send an email to their favorite brand in order to find out about who and how made the clothes. There is a standard sample on the website, you just have to choose the brand, to write your name and your e-mail address and press send. This is a way in which as buyers we can try to persuade brands to become sustainable. Asking for information with platforms like this is very simple and an easy way to get involved. I am sending my e-mail to Zara right now.

Until all the brands will introduce labels with the ethical aspects of producing the clothes, Rank a Brand is a way to find out about how sustainable some brands are. According to their website “each brand is assessed on climate impact, environmental impact, labor conditions and transparency”, and based on several criteria the brand gets a label from A (the best, 75-100% of maximum score) to E (the worst, less than 15% of maximum score). For example, Zara received a C, which means is reasonable, but could do better, presenting all the brand’s actions such as having a policy for the brand to minimize, reduce or compensate carbon emissions. New Yorker, on the other hand received an E because they have zero transparency when it comes to sustainability, any kind of information or policy in this direction not being available, except one safety policy for workers.

rank a brand
Rank a Brand labeling system

So, am I still a hypocrite? For sure.

Just because it happens that the brand that I like to take steps into becoming sustainable, does not mean I live in a sustainable way. When the reasons for buying from there will be that I know about their sustainable policy and I know they do less harm to the environment than other brands from which I don’t buy, then I will be less hypocrite.

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