Sustainability is becoming important for brands in the fashion industry as consumers become more mindful of impacts on the environment and their purchasing decisions. In order to meet consumer demands and remain relevant to changing trends, fashion brands need to take steps to make their operations more sustainable.
Sustainable fashion is an approach to the design, production and consumption of clothing that takes into account both social and environmental factors. It includes the use of materials that are sourced ethically and made with fewer resources, limiting impacts on the natural environment. It also looks at considerations such as fair wages for workers, safe working conditions and minimizing water and energy use.
Here are five ways fashion brands can transition into sustainability:
Reduce Waste Through Circular Design
One way fashion brands can become more sustainable is by adopting circular design principles. This means designing products with the intention of keeping them in use for as long as possible and finding ways to reuse, repair or recycle them when they reach the end of their useful life.
Companies can implement circular design is by using durable materials that can withstand wear and tear, as well as using repairable fastenings and finishes. Brands can also consider offering repair services or partnering with repair businesses to extend the life of their products.
Incorporating Closed-Loop Systems
This is where materials are recovered and reused in the production of new products. For example, a brand could collect used clothing from customers and use the materials to create new products, which can be stuffing for cushions or insulation for jackets.
Use Sustainable Materials
Through research, brands can explore materials that have a lower environmental impact, like organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, which are grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Companies can look into using recycled materials, namely plastic bottles, post-consumer waste and deadstock fabric.
Fashion companies may consider using recycled materials like polyester or recycled denim and this reduces the demand for virgin resources.
Implement Sustainable Production Practices
In addition to using sustainable materials, fashion brands can also adopt more sustainable production practices. This includes reducing water usage, conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
They can reduce water usage by using water-saving technologies in the production process, such as drip irrigation or water recycling systems. It is recommended for companies consider partnering with suppliers who have implemented water conservation measures.
To conserve energy, brands can invest in renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power. They can also implement energy-efficient technologies in their production facilities, such as LED lighting or energy-efficient machinery.
Companies can adopt more sustainable transportation methods, such as using electric vehicles or opting for more efficient shipping options, to be able to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. They can also offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits or investing in carbon reduction projects.
Transparent Supply Chain
This means disclosing information about where and how their products are made, as well as the materials and labor practices used.
Transparency helps consumers make informed decisions about the products they purchase and encourages brands to be more accountable for their environmental and social impacts. It also allows brands to identify and address any sustainability issues in their supply chain.
Collaborate With Other Stakeholders
Finally, fashion businesses can transition to sustainability by collaborating with other stakeholders, including government agencies, NGOs and industry groups. Collaboration allows brands to share knowledge and resources and leverage collective influence to drive change.
A brand could join a sustainability certification program, like the Global Organic Textile Standard or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which sets standards and benchmarks for sustainable production and helps brands track their progress. They can also work with NGOs to support sustainability initiatives. An example of this is through supporting reforestation projects or promoting fair labor practices.
Transitioning to sustainability is a journey, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Sustainable fashion can be achieved through a combination of methods. Achieving sustainability requires commitment from fashion businesses to create long-term change in the industry.