Sustainability and Fashion: Stories From The Industry

Last week, we talked about what greenwashing is and what it means for you, the shopper. We’ve learned that eco-friendly fashion can be a trap. Sustainable fashion is a growing market, bound to attract both the good and the bad.

What is the industry doing (or not doing)? Here are three not-so-good examples.

No: Boohoo

Via Forbes

Boohoo is an online shopping platform dedicated to women. The website launched in 2006 and nine years later, Boohoo launched its app. In 2016, they started men’s collections and then started a skincare and beauty line.

One of their most controversial campaign was #forthefuture, meant to promote green fashion. Items are made with recycled polyester that is “created from plastic that has been directed away from landfills and repurposed to produce new yarn.” Except, the collection is only 95 percent recycled polyester, leaving that 5 percent to polluting plastic.

More controversy hit Boohoo when a New York Times article reported that “garment worker campaign group, that said that multiple garment factories in Leicester, including other Boohoo suppliers, “were putting workers at risk of infection,” with little or no social distancing or personal protective equipment requirements and low pay during lockdown.”

After these claims, Boohoo released a statement saying that an investigation is underway. Playing dumb, perhaps. Sustainable fashion is more than an hashtag and it is more than recycled garments. It is also fair wages and just workers’ treatment.

Maybe: Zara

Via The Fashion Law

Zara is another controversial brand, with a mix of long-term commitments and short-term vision. In 2019, Vogue reported that the Spanish brand agreed to: series of five-year strategic environmental plans; aligning itself with the development and use of responsibly and sustainably produced fabrics; transforming its stores and facilities so they’re eco-efficient; recycling packaging and using green alternatives for its packing materials; an in-store recycling donation program; and launching its eco-conscious Join Life collection.

Zara also committed to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals for its supply chain and by 2025, the collections will be created out of 100% sustainable cottons and linens and 100% recycled polyester. These goals are extended to Zara’s conglomerate other brands, such as Zara Home, Pull & Bear and Bershka.

Still, most of Zara’s clothes are made of viscose, a semi-synthetic fiber partially made from wood pulp and from endangered forests. Zara’s production has also risen steadily, which is the opposite of sustainable. The more product is out, the more pollution it causes.

Yes: Gucci

The Italian luxury brand is at the forefront of eco-friendly fashion. In 2018, it launched the portal “Equilibrium” to keep its customers and the public updated on the company’s social and environmental practices.

Gucci went fur-free, meaning it won’t use natural furs anymore. The luxury brand committed to using precious metals and precious stones that can ne traced every step of the process, up to the miner who extracted it. Each year of Equilibrium, Gucci released a “Modern Slavery Statement” to ensure human rights are respected both in the business and in the supply chain. All of the company’s operations, stores, offices and warehouses will run on renewable energy. Gucci has a 10-year sustainability plan focused on gender equality.

Transparency is the keyword for the brand, which is looking to set an example for the whole industry.

As Gucci states on its website, “Equilibrium unifies the principles we uphold and the actions we pursue to treat our world and each other better, for our collective future.”

While sustainability becomes a trend and a critic in the fashion industry, some brands are trying to be clever. They “greenwash” consumers into believing their are buying eco-friendly, when in reality their clothes are made of plastic and their workers suffer unfair conditions.

Still, some brands are trying to turn the fashion world upside down. They are thinking about the future, instead of profits. What is your favorite eco-friendly brand?

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