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Introduction to Sustainable Fashion
Abir Banerjee

As we all become more aware of the serious environmental impact of our clothes — with the fashion industry accounting for a startling four to ten percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions every year — the term "sustainable fashion" is becoming increasingly popular.

Sustainable fashion refers to a more ecologically responsible approach to clothing design, manufacture, and consumption, ensuring that we do not hurt our planet and do not deplete its natural resources. Sustainable fashion also emphasizes prolonging the life of clothing, as well as the utilization of recycled materials and general recycling. In a nutshell, it's a catch-all word for clothing that are made and consumed in such a manner that they may be literally sustained while also preserving the environment and people who make them. Given the amount of variables at play, there are still far too few companies addressing all of these complicated concerns, and even those that do say there's always scope for change. This means that merely purchasing products labelled as "sustainable" is insufficient; we must totally reassess our purchasing patterns and how we use clothing.

Fashion is about a lot more than just clothing and covering up the naked body. Fashion is a powerful cultural construct with international recognition that is deeply ingrained in the collective psyche, contributing to a feeling of individual identity and giving a method of personal or communal expression. People have decorated their bodies to exercise power, influence, and generate attraction since the dawn of time, and current stylish clothes follow this trend, expressing qualities and meaning that go beyond traditional conceptions of rank and money. Fashion can serve as a social catalyst or a communication medium; it can function in both private and public realms, simultaneously inward and outward-facing; it can express belonging or differ based on personal preference; and it can promote well-being in a variety of professional settings, whereas inappropriate clothing can stigmatize.

Fast Fashion is a term that comes from the phrase "fast food" and refers to clothing that is manufactured rapidly and cheaply to match the newest trends, generally immediately off the runway. Fast Fashion businesses are notorious for their low prices and have been linked to overproduction, waste, poor working conditions, and a negative impact on the environment. To put it another way, they're not exactly ethical or sustainable. H&M, Zara, and TopShop are examples of fast fashion pioneers.

Rules for smart buying

Fashion manufacturing currently makes for a significant percentage of the gross domestic product and export profits of several South Asian nations as a result of trade globalization. Clothing and footwear manufacturing has become a major source of employment in developing nations such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, accounting for up to 80% of export revenue. However, the fast development of low-cost fashion has come at a high human and environmental cost, with pressures felt most acutely by offshore manufacturers, garment workers, and subsistence farmers farming cotton or cashmere. The Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, which claimed the lives of 1,134 garment workers, was a watershed moment for the global fashion industry's responsibility and transparency, establishing an uncompromising agenda for action on workers' circumstances.

Everyone is affected by the tough challenges inherent in this endemically unsustainable and complicated system, whether they are involved in the development, manufacturing, communication, or depiction of fashion or merely as consumers. However, in the fashion sector, holistic thinking and life cycle approaches to sustainability are giving incentive and developing momentum for fundamental system transformation, which includes both local and global solutions.  According to research, a sustainable fashion system necessitates an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to environmental, social, and economic issues, as well as a critical education program for those working in the fashion industry, prospective actors, and consumers in general, so that they can make more informed decisions and choices and raise a collective hurdle to the status quo. Sustainable fashion does not mean the end of fashion. Fashion brings joy while also being a source of income, and sustainable fashion must continue to combine personal and symbolic demands with the economic and societal advantages that fashion brings, all while creating new paradigms and narratives. We're also starting to see how damaging our consumerist culture has been to people and the environment, thanks to a number of campaigns and initiatives. The sustainable fashion movement is gaining traction, and an increasing number of customers are decreasing and modifying their fashion consumption habits. In recent years, we've seen a resurgence of counter-movements. Slow Fashion is a rising movement that advocates for a more holistic approach to fashion and a slower rate of production and consumption. As people become more conscious of the lifespan of clothing, vintage clothing is becoming increasingly acceptable and trendy. 

Linen saree designed and manufactured by Color Ashram

Recycling and recycled clothing, as well as up-cycling and circular economy activities that encourage techniques to add value to discarded garments, have become increasingly popular.

Fashion may appear to be frivolous at times, but it is one of the most important economic actors on the market, having a huge influence on people and the environment all over the world. To alter the fashion business and ethical movement for the better, it's critical to understand their history, how they function, and how they evolved.

Adopt Sustainable Fashion to your lifestyle

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Written by
Abir Banerjee
Art enthusiast from Kolkata
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