The fashion industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, which makes it both very bad and very good. Bad, because its negative impact on the society and environment is tremendous. For instance, the apparel industry is considered to be the second largest industrial polluter in the world. But, looking at the brighter side, there is a huge room for improvement and if the majority of the companies turn “green”, they can have a tremendous reverse effect – not only can they stop exploiting the shrinking resources and using child labour, but they can also help out the small local businesses and recycle materials to reduce the waste.
Many stakeholders are becoming more and more aware, of the garment industry’s catastrophic effects on the planet. Hence there is an increasing amount of initiatives and projects promoting sustainable fashion in many different ways. University of the Arts London is promoting many of them. Those initiatives have a slightly different goal – either to promote local ecological brands or to explore the interrelations of garments, people, and place and in Berlin, we can attend an Ethical Fashion Show, however, the ultimate goal remains the same – broadening awareness of the customers and designers.
Additionally, one of the world top retail chains, H&M, gives a perfect example for other international fashion companies of how to gradually change towards more and more “green” activities throughout the whole supply chain. One of them calls for bringing unwanted garments, to help to deal with exploiting the shrinking resources. So far they managed to collect more than 40,000 tonnes of garments and by 2020 they hope to get all of the cotton from sustainable sources.
However, I believe that the most crucial stakeholder is US – the customers. In the end, it is all up to us. We decide whether we’re buying five $1 tops from Primark or whether we want to allocate a comparable amount of money on a shirt made by a UK brand using recycled materials and devoted to transparent and fully ethical supply chain.
I am not saying we should get rid of all our clothes from retail chains and never shop in one again, however, what might be a solution is taking little steps into being a more aware customer, devoting a second or two to think where did our pretty, shiny dress or top come from and why does it cost this little. Fashion, whether we like it or not, is to some extent part of everybody’s life. We all wear clothes, every single day, and while possessing clothes is inevitable whether we like it or not, it is important to be aware the “history” of the product.