Sustainable Fashion: It’s Time to Jump on This Next Trend


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Although some fashion retail companies have continued the “linear model of the past” that harms the environment, some have adapted to a more sustainable culture.

Angie Leung, Reporter

Now fair trade, designer brand, and fast fashion are not enough. Dresses that can charge your iPhone, fire-proof vests made from microorganisms, and clothes that can be grown — this is the next ‘big thing’ in the fashion industry.

Whereas the current apparel manufacturing and production process pollutes our natural resources and presents health hazards to consumers and workers alike, the fashion industry has gradually progressed from this “linear model of the past” in order to respond to modern era technological demands for sustainable fashion using renewable resources — which also comes with its perks. Although this innovation heavily relies on apparel corporations to redesign their manufacturing and marketing system, there are ways you can embrace sustainable fashion culture on the consumer level.


But what’s wrong with the current garment system?

Because the fast fashion system requires companies to respond quickly to customer demands for new trends, clothing is pushed through the production process, disregarding quality, duration and environmental impacts. Moreover, the linear system contributes to American throwaway culture. Every year, 14 million tons of non-biodegradable textiles are dumped into landfills and become nine percent of solid waste in the US.

At the manufacturing level, the textile dyeing process utilizes eight thousand toxic chemicals dangerous to the health of workers and animals exposed to them in the lab alike. Chemical runoff also pollutes waterways and deteriorates the air quality. And even in a time of the growing scarcity of water, many garments are water intensive.

To solve these environmental problems, fashion companies are looking toward sustainable fashion. According to Green Strategy, a consultancy firm assisting textile companies to develop sustainable systems, “sustainable fashion” is clothing and accessories whose manufacturing and marketing process takes into account environmental and socio-economic impacts as well as “consumption patterns.” This includes incorporating natural and renewable resources into fabrics, ensuring ethical working conditions in textile companies and fostering positive attitudes toward this type of fashion.

Sustainable fashion has not been a new idea. Since 2014, companies and designing teams such as Solar Fiber have combined energy-harvesting technology into clothing fabrics. Solar Fiber’s prototype, the solar shawl, weaves sunlight energy-absorbing fibers into fabric that allows the wearer to charge her smartphone from the fabric’s solar cells. Now, sustainable fashion items such as vegan leather handbags are growing in customer demand.

In addition, clothing retail companies have also upgraded production processes to be more recycling-friendly. For example, H&M has embraced sustainable culture by pursuing its 2018 Conscious Exclusive Collection that establishes a system of textile recycling. Thus, even former fast fashion contributors can help foster prudent attitudes towards our environment diminishing in natural resources.


How can I embrace the sustainable fashion culture?

Even if you don’t have access to a high-tech lab to grow alginate-based fibers, you can still contribute to the demand with consumer power to urge your favorite clothing retail companies to become more sustainable and search for certified textiles.

And although sustainable fashion will cost substantially more than the current garments at retail companies, consumers concerned with the environment degradation will be investing in the long-term solution to our environmental problem.