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Sustainable Fashion

June 29, 2011

‘Sustainable’, a word that immediately recalls words like ‘eco friendly’; ‘green,’; ‘organic’; etc. Literally speaking, it’s basically something that is viable for the longest term without causing significant damage to the humans or other living organisms of any sort. With the advent of awareness amongst us regarding the various environmental issues, the need for having sustainability in everything we use has become imperative. Apart from the giant strides made in all fields, sustainability is a major concern in the fashion industry also. Although no concrete bit is done of any sort by the UN, everybody is doing their own share. Various fashion shows are being held, numerous communities have come forward to bring forth the idea of sustainable fashion and also various brands have opened up in the recent times that make only environmental friendly garments.

But the question still arises- What is actually sustainable fashion? Is it using the clothes for a longer duration of time or using materials that are eco-friendly in nature?

The answer still remains elusive.

I still would try to highlight what opinions various people hold, materials that come under sustainable fashion, the different fashion shows held serving the same purpose and also the brands that incorporate sustainability.

The Materials:

The materials that come under sustainable fashion are usually organic cotton, unbleached cotton, synthetic fibers with the least amount of water or regenerated fibers.

Some also believe that the materials that are locally available and do not cause any kind of threat to the environment are also part of sustainable fashion as they both save the cost and do not pollute the nature.

Eco friendly or green cotton

The Fashion Shows:

A very marked event took place at the London Fashion Week at Autumn Winter 2011 featuring ‘Estethica’ which was founded by the British Fashion Council and showcases the growing movement of of cutting edge designers committed to working eco sustainably.

A newspaper dress at Estethica Exhibition


The Vancouver Fashion Week called the Eco-Fashion week which was held in the month of September 2010 had three primary motives- First, to promote environmentally conscious trends in fashion and to applaud and support national and international designers, manufacturers and retailers who are shaping these trends.

Second, to provide opportunities for consumer education about environmentally sustainable practices in the fashion industry, explain the global and personal benefits of adopting these practices, and demonstrate ways in which individuals can make conscious changes in their wardrobe choices and reduce their environmental impact of “waste couture” on our planet.

And third, to generate direct economic benefits for the region

and environmentally friendly businesses in the fashion industry. With this mandate, EFW will establish Vancouver as a world-wide destination for environmentally friendly fashion and couture, and strengthen its image as a green, progressive, and trend-setting city. (quoted from – Vancouver Fashion Week by Jasmine Malik Chua)

A dress from Vancouver Fashion Week September 2010



The Brands:

H&M believe that not only does sustainable fashion a right thing to do but also it brings good business. Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive officer of H&M, said being responsible and using the planet’s resources wisely will encourage both employees and customers, and will eventually lead to higher sales and lower costs.

“We are already beginning to see a trend where consumers choose more responsible brands over less responsible ones. So we need to keep our ear to the ground and find ways to meet or even exceed our customers’ expectations of us,” he said at H&M’s Style and Substance Sustainability Report 2009.

“If we do the right things, we should be able to increase sales and cut costs,” he added.


Edun is another brand launched in 2005 expanded its horizons by 2009 and stepped into sustainable fashion because Christian Kemp Griffin believe that it’s very important for them to know the source of their cotton, not only the manufacturing but also the farming.

The Organizations:

National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers, founded in the year in 2008-2010, states its mission as – to create social change through design and fashion related businesses by providing education, training and programs that are transformative to the industry and cultivate collaboration, sustainability and economic growth. 

(Courtesy: NASFD Facebook page)

Another renowned organization called The Stanford Sustainable Fashion Collective (SSFC) hosted a sustainable fashion show on Earth Day, 2011, as part of the Vision Earth Festival.


Refashion is a term which draws one’s attention. It’s basically recycling of used garments in our own way. Various garments that have been discarded or out of fashion can be mixed and matched together to form garments with an entirely new look.

RecyCouture is another term which used handmade techniques on garments and time consuming details.

Catalytic Clothing is an idea from Helen Storey and chemist Tony Ryan. It suggests that apart from not damaging the environment further, there can be certain fabrics developed that help in purifying the air.


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