Sustainable fashion; the next big trend
Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil. Frustratingly, many large brands seem to be moving very slowly towards a more sustainable approach. However, recent announcements, prompted by consumer demand, are looking more promising.
A recent interview with the celebrity environmentalist designer Stella McCartney, saw her calling for people to wash their clothes less in order to reduce energy use and maintain the quality of clothes. She talked about her experiences on Savile Row and the fact that tailors try to not wash suits as much as possible to maintain the structure of the fabric. Stella’s comments caused lots of discussion about how often we should be washing our smalls!
Washing clothes is just one element of how fashion can harm the environment. Problems range from poorly paid staff, polluting factories and recently we have also seen the rise and rise of throw-away fashion.
Stella says that the new increase in the popularity of sustainable fashion as an alternative, is consumer driven rather than by the industry and will hopefully create more of a level playing field for designers and businesses that want to work in a sustainable way.
Zara have recently announced that they will be using 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025, going further to say that stores will be using renewable energy and phasing out single-use plastics. They already use paper bags rather than plastic bags in the UK for their customers.
Online brands have also started to spring up, sourcing high-end luxury brands with eco-credentials. One such brand is Rev-en-vert they call themselves the “destination for sustainable style” and look at four elements of the brands that they include to be organic, re-made, local and fair.
With the Marie Kondokonmari approach and prompt to ask ourselves if something “sparks joy, this is yet another influence on consumers to place more value on individual items that they own, empowering them to buy less and treasure the things that they do own.
This investment in sustainable fashion is a positive statement on the direction that British fashion is going as we move into the second half of 2019.
At the other end of the spectrum, it feels like there are just as many stories about fast fashion. Scary statistics about consumers wearing their clothing items for just 5 occasions before they get sent to landfill or are at least recycled. How can it be possible that clothes can cost less than £10, other than by using cheap fibres and low-paid labour? I am hopeful that some of the messages that are now coming out of the larger brands will start to filter down through the supply chain.
What does this mean for small artisan producers?
As the founder of the Indigowares, I have worked in the fashion industry since I graduated. My ethical policy is at the heart of everything I do and I am very transparent about my approach. My aim is to create high-quality luxury products with as little impact on the environment as possible.
With increased awareness about the need to invest in sustainable fashion so that we reduce our impact on the environment, I hope that artisan designers and producers like myself will be able to capture the imagination of our clients. All of my products are handmade and dyed using sustainable methods and this makes them all unique, original and high quality.
Hopefully this trend will continue to grow and develop. It allows people like myself to work with craftspeople and artisans in their own communities so that they can be more economically independent and recognised fairly for their work.
Indigowares collaborating with other artisan creators
For my natural indigo dyed leather products, I enjoy collaborating with leather artist Paula Kirkwood to create our shibori dyed leather collection. By working with other individual craftspeople, we can create a sustainable luxury item that won’t be found anywhere else and will last for years.