Not because I hate the concept but because I hate the association. Eco-fashion has been dominated by natural looking colours and fibres and haven’t reflected the real world. Just because I care about the environment doesn’t mean I want to look like it. Eco-chic became a simplistic reaction to perceptions of McFashion; natural is ‘good’ and ‘artificial is ‘bad’. These ideas are so simplistic that the real message of sustainable fashion has been lost in the visual message. In many ways eco-chic is such as unsustainable as McFashion because its trying to become a trend. Sustainable fashion is a life-style choice not a trend.
To understand what ‘eco-chic’ is we should strip it back to basic and call it sustainable fashion.
Sustainability, what is it?
With over 70 definitions of sustainability, no wonder we don’t really know what sustainable fashion is.
Sustainability has become associated with with recycling and the environment although the original rationale was to focus on social changes. Although in my opinion sustainability should cover both. After all the world we live in is so closely linked, sustainability might not be child’s play but the Lion King taught me a lot. That song “the circle of life” taught be how everything is in place and how we need to give back just as much as we take. With so many companies hijacking the word ‘sustainable fashion’ for commercial purposes it has made the word even harder to define.
I think the following quote is easiest definition of sustainability to understand:
“Sustainable development is developments that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland, 1987)
And how can fashion be sustainable?
When you put the words fashion and sustainable side-by-side it can seem a bit of a paradox. Today consumption is a word that rolls of the tongue while at the check-out in primark. With fast fashion and trends that change every week it can be difficult to get the balance of being a fashion player and sustainable. Fashion is associated with the new and the innovative; and I just as much as anyone likes to keep up with the game. But I also have a conscience.
Many different things need to be tackled to make fashion sustainable from manufacturing, textiles and dyes used, transportation. Today “eco-fashion” is based on both ecological and ethical with concept innovation and a high level of design aesthetic. Eco-fashion is no longer for the hippies but for everyone. Its about not just taking pride in how you look but where your cloths come from. In truth we are very far away from creating 100% sustainable fashion (some say impossible) but if we can get even half way there we are making progress.
Fashion can be sustainable and one thing we can do as consumers is slow down the fashion cycle.
I look forward to the day when its no longer referred to as eco-fashion or even sustainable fashion but simply ‘fashion’ (that happens to be sustainable!)