What is Sustainable Fashion?
Americans buy nearly 20 billion items of clothing annually. And over fifty percent of all clothing produced ends up in the incinerator or landfills. Yikes! With stats like that, one thing is for sure: the fashion industry isn’t doing our planet any favors. The good news is that we can stop (or at least slow down) the vicious cycle of fast fashion by choosing ethical brands with sustainable business practices. So what is sustainable fashion? Keep reading to find out!
Sustainable Fashion: A Definition
Sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes, and accessories that are manufactured, marketed, and distributed in the most sustainable way possible. When it comes to fashion, sustainability has three main components:
1. Manufacturing & Materials – Where do the materials for the products come from, and how do the materials affect the environment? For example, if a shirt is made out of cotton, how much water is used to grow the cotton? What effect does the manufacturing process have on the environment? Is the garment manufactured in a factory that causes pollution, or in a carbon neutral facility?
2. Social Impact – What are the working conditions of the people manufacturing and distributing the fashion items? Are they paid a fair wage?
3. Reusability – How long will the item last? What happens when the item is no longer worn? Can it be reused or recycled in some way?
Luckily, you don’t need to do all the research on your favorite fashion brands before your next shopping trip. No one expects you to investigate your favorite store’s supply chain! If want to shop with sustainable fashion brands but you’re not sure where to start, try Good on You, a directory that investigates and rates fashion brands on sustainability. They do all the research for you!
Fashion for Good: Why Bespoke Southerly is an Ethical Brand
If you’re in the market for a sustainable cocktail dress or gown, look no further than Bespoke Southerly. Our founder, Sheri Turnbow, has a background in conservation and sustainability. From the beginning, it has been her goal to embed sustainability into all aspects of Bespoke Southerly’s operations. Here are some ways that we implement sustainability in our fashion brand:
● We use a made-to-order model, which means our manufacturing partners cut just one garment at a time. This ensures that we produce as little waste as possible, and we don’t have any excess inventory that could end up in a landfill.
● We choose our fabrics carefully. We buy existing fabrics, and we only use natural fibers (like silk), which have less of an environmental impact. No petroleum-based fabrics for us!
● We are also researching other fabric options that minimize water use, ensure quality of life for silkworms, and eliminate toxic dyes. We aim to continually improve our business, choosing both the highest quality and lowest impact textiles.
● We’ve teamed up with an online reseller of deadstock and unused fabric pieces to sell leftover fabric that we can’t use in the future. Someone can put the pieces to good use and they won’t end up in the garbage.
● We manufacture our dresses right here in the United States to ensure good working conditions and a living wage.
● And since we manufacture in the US, our garments don’t need to travel as far to reach our customers. Thus, we have less of a carbon footprint when it comes to shipping to our stateside customers.
● We create timeless pieces that are made to last, which is the opposite of throwaway fast fashion. Our classic styles are created using couture pattern makers and seamstresses to ensure the best fit and construction. These garments are meant to be staples in your closet for years to come!
In reality, being a 100% sustainable fashion brand is very difficult, particularly for small, boutique brands like Bespoke Southerly. All brands have areas for improvement, but we embrace an attitude of continually bettering our business. Another part of our mission is educating consumers on why investment dressing is so important. For more on that, check out our blog post “Why You Should Ditch Fast Fashion and Start Investing in Your Clothes”. And, check out our recent press that highlights our commitment to sustainability in Forbes and Sublime Magazine.