“Sustainable” is a popular label these days. Understanding what sustainable means and what makes an item sustainable is an important step in working towards a greener planet. Sustainability is more than just the finished product – it is every step of the journey that an item takes to get to the retail space.
In fashion, sustainability isn’t just on the label. It starts with producing the materials in a way that cuts CO2 emissions, uses recycled materials, reduces pollution, supports biodiversity, and ensures safe working conditions and fair wages for garment workers. Sustainable isn’t an adjective – it’s a verb, and it demands action.
5 Questions About Sustainable Clothing
- What is Sustainable Clothing?
- Why is Sustainable Clothing Important?
- What Makes a Brand Sustainable?
- What are Sustainable Fabrics?
- How Do I Find Sustainable Clothing Brands?
1. Sustainable clothing is a popular buzzword right now.
Sustainable clothing is a growing trend addressing whether an item is ethically produced and sourced responsibly. In addition to clothing companies committing to environmentally aware designs, they have committed to educating consumers on a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle. A key piece of education is acknowledging cheap clothing that is worn only once and thrown away will stay in landfills for years to come.
Sustainability starts where the materials are harvested and produced into fabric. It includes the working conditions, the methods used to source the materials, and even the wages paid to the workers. Sustainability refers to the entire production cycle of an item and the attention paid to each step in the process.
2. Sustainable clothing is important for everyone.
When cheap clothing is mass-produced, worn a few times, and then thrown away, it ends up in landfills. Our environment cannot sustain this damage, and a commitment to sustainable practices is needed to change the cycle of treatment for our planet. Sustainable clothing practices, such as a circular economy, provide a better solution.
Circular Economy Practices
- Keep resources as long as possible
- Extract maximum value
- Re-use, repair, recycle
By introducing a new practice of circular economy, we create a manageable way to sustain clothing production that does not damage the environment. Beyond the production of materials, it speaks to the well-being of people, including work conditions and wages.
3. Making a brand sustainable requires looking at the bigger picture.
A sustainable brand is looking at the bigger picture, which lies beyond the bottom line and making a profit. A sustainable brand considers values such as environmental impact and ethical supply chains of equal importance in making production decisions. These decisions are what connect you to your customers. Customers decide if you align with their values, and if you don’t, they will look for another brand to support.
Criteria for Sustainable Fashion
- Natural and biodegradable fabrics
- Avoid plastic and packaging waste
- Natural dying methods
- Low resource consumption and green energy
- Fair production
- Carbon neutrality
Every step in the production process requires close attention. An environmental footprint should be minimized or neutralized by any means necessary. Take a close look at companies that refer to themselves as “sustainable” or as having a “conscious collection.” Sustainability is all about people, too, and we must take the time to look a little closer.
4. Sustainable fabrics make all the difference.
At Gen Woo, our Circular for All collection features clothing that is biodegradable and made of natural cellulose fabrics, cotton, and Tencel. Cotton fibers are the purest form of cellulose and are known as nature’s most abundant polymer. Organic or recycled cotton is the most sustainable way to wear cotton.
Our Favorite Circular for All Products:
Tencel is a type of rayon as well as a brand name for a set of fibers called lyocell and modal. Tencel fabric is made from wood, but the finished fiber is man-made with a soft, silky, breathable feel. Tencel is a very high-quality, sustainable product with cool fibers that are highly absorbent.
Our Favorite Organic Products:
5. Do your research to find a sustainable clothing brand.
The first sign that a brand is sustainable is written on its clothing label. Materials used by sustainable clothing brands should be made from recyclable, renewable materials like linen, hemp, Tencel, cotton, or other provisional greige fabric. Greige fabric is an unbleached, unfinished material that comes directly from a loom or knitting machine. Also, check to see if the label says their dyes are natural – textile dyes are very toxic to both your skin and the environment.
Truly sustainable brands are transparent about their supply chains, environmental impact, and ethical practices. Most will even include reports on their website and let you know their progress towards becoming more sustainable. Company websites are a wealth of knowledge for information, including a company’s mission, founders, shareholders, and certifications.
At Gen Woo, we are continually moving each part of our design and manufacturing process towards increased sustainability. Our collections are made with at least 70% of provisional greige fabric and 10% of deadstock. We also have annual targets to reduce our carbon footprint.
Our Favorite Deadstock Products:
If you are just becoming aware of the benefits of sustainably sourced clothing, we commend you on your desire to learn more! It can be overwhelming to see the number of brands claiming to be sustainable. Start close to home and look closer at the brands you already know and like.
Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, and learning how to identify the brands that support your values will take time. Your decision to place value on the environmental impact that clothing production has on our planet is a commitment to being more aware and making better choices. At Gen Woo, we are constantly on a journey to better methods of sustainability, and we will continue to work to ensure our brand stays aligned with the values of those who choose an environmentally aware approach to clothing production.