"Sustainable fashion", that is, ethical fashion production, attentive to the environment and guaranteeing humane and fair working conditions, until recently it seemed a rarity, supported by a narrow audience. However, he was quickly picked up by completely different designers and brands: today H&M are calling for the singer MIA to advertise their collection program, Karl Lagerfeld launches an eco-couture collection, adidas makes sneakers from garbage raised from the bottom of the ocean, Emma Watson appears on the red carpet in a Calvin Klein and Eco-Age dress made from recycled plastic bottles. The new trend, unlike most others, is not going anywhere.
The capitals of the responsible steel movement are Stockholm and Copenhagen: in Sweden, the H&M team awards grants to eco-designers and biologists, and Crown Princess Victoria speaks at the H&M Global Change Awards. Denmark hosts the Copenhagen Fashion Summit on ethical fashion, bringing together dozens of industry professionals, from glossy fashion directors to denim manufacturers. The latter, by the way, are perhaps the most active environmental pollutants. The fashion industry ranks second in the list of the most harmful industries, behind only the oil industry.
There is some irony that mass-market giant H&M has suddenly become the face of ethical manufacturing today. After all, it is the companies in this segment that produce the most cheap things, oversaturation of the market and encouraging consumers to buy more and more often. H&M alone produces about 600 million pieces of clothing a year. Eco-friendly lines Conscious and Conscious Exclusive, awards for scientists, a collection program - all these and other brand initiatives cannot yet fully compensate for the harm caused.
Providing a wider range of responsibly produced items is one of the main challenges for those industry players who truly care about the ethics of fashion. Everyone is talking about it, from model Amber Valletta to fashion director of The New York Times Vanessa Friedman. 74% of British consumers are willing to pay a little more for an item if they know that it was produced in accordance with all ethical standards. Another thing is that appearance and quality are still much more important factors for buyers.
This is where we come to the question of the responsibility not only of manufacturers, but also of buyers. More and more people adhere to the concept of responsible consumption. Because, although we cannot change fashion globally and immediately, we can change our own consumer habits to begin with, and the industry will eventually have to react to this. So what can you do to become a conscious buyer?
The counter-offer “just produce less” may sound rational, but, as we have already found out, none of the brands are ready to do this. But we, for our part, can still buy less. According to a study by WRAP, the total value of items not worn for at least a year in the wardrobe of British buyers is 30 billion pounds. And although this impressive figure is already four years old (the study was carried out in 2012), we do not think that something has changed dramatically during this time. On the contrary, given how fast the clothing market is growing, this figure could only increase. People are buying 400 percent more clothes today, as one movie, The True Cost, says than they did twenty years ago.
Before you buy something, think about whether you really need it? Especially insidious in this sense is the mass market with its constant promotions and funny T-shirts for 300 rubles, which very convincingly shout from the shelves: “Buy me! Buy it! " It is important to learn to drown out these "voices" in your own head, buying one instead of a dozen unnecessary things - but such that it is special just for you. And would have lived longer than one season.
Wear things for a long time
The very fact that you have worn a thing for several years, in a sense, redeems the harm that was caused to the environment during its production. A great example would be jeans made from virgin cotton.According to various estimates, up to 10 thousand liters of water is spent on growing cotton, which will be used for a single pair. In addition, about 25% of the pesticides used in the world are used in cotton plantations.
Good jeans are durable. And over the years, unlike sweaters or shirts, they only become more interesting: they finally sit on the figure, dry themselves beautifully and even fade with dignity. So new ones, if you do not live in a constant race for trends, will definitely be needed very, very not soon.
Don't throw things away
The average American, according to The True Cost, throws away about 40 kilograms of clothing a year, and the total weight of “clothing” garbage collected over the same period by residents of the United States is estimated at about 11 million tons. And a very small percentage of this huge load consists of tissues that decompose on their own, without additional intervention. Polyester, the most popular material among mass-market brands, can lie in the ground for up to 200 years.
Instead of just throwing things away, no matter how presentable they look, try giving them new life. The easiest way to do this, again, is with H&M. Their program for collecting old things, already mentioned more than once in this text, has been in operation since 2013. Things - not only clothes, but also bed linen and in general any other textiles - can be returned in any of the brand's stores, of which there are about 4 thousand around the world. There they will be dealt with without your participation: some will be sent to second-hand stores, some will be recycled. This is perhaps the simplest thing you can do.
There are other options too: what you don't need may well be useful to someone else. Maybe as a child, you were annoyed by the need to wear your older brother's stupid shorts, because your parents were sorry to throw them away, but in fact it was a very wise decision - not only financially, but also in terms of responsible consumption. In the absence of younger sisters, you can turn to your girlfriends - it's not for nothing that everyone is so fond of swaps. Or place an ad in one of the many groups "I will give it for free" (or not for nothing), where there will definitely be a hunter for your things. And, finally, something can always be donated to charity - this option, as the most obvious, we put off for last.
Choose ethical brands
It is not necessary to limit yourself exclusively to “green” brands, if such a deep dive still scares you. To get started, you can familiarize yourself with the rating of the most responsible brands, which is compiled by Corporate Knights every year. Only adidas, H&M and Marks & Spencer represent the fashion industry here in the first half. Or with a recent Greenpeace listing. In such ratings, there will definitely not be unfamiliar names. At first, following the new rules will not require excessive efforts - you will have time to figure everything out thoroughly later, since there is a lot of information on the Internet.
Of the Russian brands, both "green" and visually cool at the same time, we single out one - Go by Olya Glagoleva. Olya releases collections only in conjunction with companies or people who share the same values. You can find everything from her sweatshirts made from recycled plastic bottles to hemp dresses with outstanding hand-embroidered embroidery and seashell buttons.
Support local producers
First, keep track of in what conditions and from what materials the things that you buy are sewn. This is easier to deal with when it comes to a small local brand, rather than a multi-million dollar corporation. By the way, the conditions in which the craftsmen work are also a very important criterion in assessing the ethics of a brand - to be sure of this, look, for example, the eerie documentary "Blue China".
Secondly, local brands are less harmful to the environment, if only because their products do not need to be transported over long distances. And finally, thirdly, this is how you invest in slow fashion - a fashion focused on quality, handicraft and almost piece production in small volumes.
Go to second-hand shops
Many of us already love second-hand and vintage shops simply because there is always something cool to find there that no one else will have. And designers from season to season, looking for inspiration, look back at the fashion of different decades and scour the same clothes ruins. The famous Moscow "MEGastil" is almost officially called the storehouse of ideas Vetements. So why encourage overproduction with your own wallet, if there are so many things that have already been produced that will last for at least a couple more lives?
From second-hand shops, which is nice, you can take things out of even the most creepy fabrics without remorse: for example, something polyester and leopard. Anyway, buying something there, you give the old thing a new life - and that's good. We will also write upcycling designers in the same item - those who sew their collections from things that have already been in use. Olya Glagoleva, mentioned above, and, for example, the wonderful Ukrainian woman Yasya Khomenko, also have such ones - we also advise you to pay special attention to her brand RCR Khomenko.
Photos: H&M Conscious Exclusive, Ports 1961, Ji Oh, Circle of Unity