Green Glossary: Sustainable Fashion Terms Explained
Green Glossary: Sustainable Fashion Terms Explained
Whether you’re an eco-fashion newbie or consider yourself a seasoned veteran in all things sustainable dressing, we can all agree that a lot of the terminology can feel confusing at times.
So, what do you need to know?
From fast fashion and greenwashing to the uber-technical GOTs and BSCI’s, we’re here to give you the rundown. An added bonus? We’re going to (hopefully) explain in the easiest way possible. Because at Gen Woo, we’re all about making sustainable fashion accessible, too.
We’ve put together a comprehensive glossary of our top 21 ethical and sustainable terms, to help you navigate your future green wardrobe with confidence.
Terms & Phrases You Need To Know
With a proven strategy to assist businesses in their people and planet missions, Amfori strives to enable organisations to enhance human prosperity, use natural resources responsibly and boost revenue. If your favourite brands have an Amfori membership, rest assured that they’re on track to doing their best sustainably!
To get a BSCI - or Business Social Compliance Initiative - recognition, a business (like Gen Woo!) must meet specific working condition criteria within their whole global supply chain. This non-profit organisation implements principal labour standards and conventions to ensure that workers are treated ethically and legally.
In a business/fashion sense, this usually means balancing or offsetting carbon dioxide emissions. For example: utilising solar panels, planting trees, forest conservation, etc.
Like some of Gen Woo’s past releases, a ‘capsule collection’ refers to a limited or condensed release of pieces emphasising timeless wardrobe staples. This reduces potential ‘deadstock’ (see below) waste whilst promoting more careful and considered shopping habits.
To manufacture products without the involvement of cruelty to animals, throughout the supply chain.
Clothes or fabric (usually brand-new!) left unsold by a company. ‘Vintage deadstock’ is also a term used by resellers to suggest that the product is no longer in production.
Fun Fact: Gen Woo actually started out by using deadstock fabric in all of our designs! We still utilise deadstock fabric in some of our collections, like the ‘City Girl’ capsule.
With social media influencing and ‘It’ girls at an all-time high, a new trend (or anti-trend?) has recently arisen: De-influencing. De-influencing shows content creators telling people precisely what they don’t need to buy, in a bid to reduce the hyper-consumerist habits usually promoted online.
A phrase often used to mean that something has no direct harm on the environment. For example, ‘eco-friendly’ products generally contribute very little/not at all to land, water and air pollution whilst conserving natural resources.
An umbrella term usually meaning that products have been in a people and planet-friendly, eco-conscious environment with an emphasis on processes such as carbon neutrality, equality, human and animal welfare, and supply chain transparency.
ETI (or Ethical Trading Initiative) promote premium practices of ethical trade, with all corporate members agreeing to uphold a strict labour code including: non-excessive working hours, liveable wages, strict child labour laws, non-discriminatory practices and more.
The fair trade movement provides companies in developing countries with fair pay to producers and exporters. A ‘Fair Trade’ badge on any product means that it is certified as meeting all fair pay standards, alongside basic social and environmental criteria.
A business model utitlised by (usually) inexpensive high-street brands involving rapidly manufactured, mass-market pieces in response to the latest trends. Approximately 92 million tonnes of fast fashion textile waste end in landfill every year!
GOTS (or Global Organic Textile Standard) certification is the worldwide leading standard for safe working conditions, equality, and child labour. (Gen Woo is GOTS certified, of course!)
Usually used as a form of marketing or PR, companies may convey misleading information about environmentalism or ‘greenwashing’ to falsely advertise their product/business as more eco-friendly than they truly are.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is a top global label for textiles tested against harmful substances. If a garment carried the ‘Standard 100’ label, you can guarantee that every component has been proven non-harmful for human health.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of artificial chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, or genetic modification. This means significantly less air and water pollution levels than non-organic cotton and far less negative impact on ecosystems.
A growing movement within the sustainable fashion industry, recycled fabrics and textiles both reduce energy outputs and ensure less waste in landfills. You’re most likely to see ‘Recycled cotton’ or ‘Recycled polyester’ labels in your day-to-day, but what do they mean?
Recycled cotton usually uses discarded cotton fabric and is converted back into cotton fibre, to be reused into new fabric.
Recycled polyester, or RPET, is a little more complicated. RPET is made from recycled plastic bottles, using a sorting, chopping and washing system that uses half as much energy to make as regular polyester.
Essentially the opposite of fast fashion: Slow fashion favours eco-friendly material, people and planet-friendly supply chains, and reduced consumption. Slow fashion is, essentially, the star of the sustainable fashion movement.
Another term for ‘ethical fashion’, ‘sustainable fashion’ covers the whole spectrum of environmentally friendly habits and practices within the industry.
A widely-used term often referred to when discussing ethical and sustainable fashion, ‘transparency’ implies openness, communication and accountability in the ethics of a company. This means total honesty throughout the supply chain, manufacturing processes and materials. Read more about why we advocate for supply chain transparency here!
Growing evermore popular across social media, ‘upcycling’ is the modification of ‘old’ or preowned clothing/material to give it a second life. This is usually preferred within the sustainable fashion world in favour of always buying new.
For more information on all things slow fashion, eco-transparency and more, check out our ‘Sustainability in Fashion’ focused blogs here on the Gen Woo website.
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Above all: remember that doing your best is always better than doing nothing at all when it comes to sustainability. Slow and steady wins the race!
GEN WOO x