What is Sustainable Clothing? Why it is Important to Gen Woo
We all want to make a low impact on the planet, do our part while navigating the challenges of the modern day. When it comes to fashion and sustainability there is a lot of bad press. It’s not all doom and gloom. Driven in part by the younger generations of today but facilitated by their predecessors. There are companies doing very exciting things leading the fashion industry to a more sustainable future.
If you’d like to take a step in the right direction, consider shopping clothing brands that tout transparency, allowing customers and everyone along the way to see where all the items come from and the processes the clothing goes through, from the sourcing of the raw materials and ethical manufacturing practices to the final products hanging in the shop or delivered to your door.
Read on to learn what to look for when trying to shop green so you can make choices that make you feel and look great the next time you update your wardrobe. From trendy, seasonless staples that you can rock all year long to in-style accessories that are environmentally friendly, you’ll love learning about sustainable clothing and where you can find it.
What is Sustainable Clothing?
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is environmentally friendly in the ways that it is sourced, designed, manufactured, distributed, and used. Sustainable clothing has been made in a way that is mindful of the many environmental issues the fashion industry has encroached upon. Sustainability includes both the product and the people involved in production. Sustainable clothing and fashion have been at odds on several issues, including:
Water consumption and contamination
The issues that drive the need for sustainable clothing are deeply entrenched in protecting our environment and the people who work in manufacturing. The production of sustainable clothing also seeks to improve working conditions for the people in manufacturing by changing the materials that are used and eliminating chemical pollution.
What is Another Name for Sustainable Fashion?
The terms ethical and sustainable fashion are often used interchangeably. For some, the focus of the movement is more about the social impact on the fashion industry or what is “morally right.” This can include issues beyond living wages and working conditions and address the ethical dimensions of animal welfare and vegan fashion.
Why is Sustainable Fashion Important?
Sustainable clothing is specifically about reducing the environmental impacts of making, using, and disposing of clothing. Making clothing takes resources, some natural, and can lead to pollution if manufacturers aren’t careful. Recycling is key to sustainability and reducing the environmental impacts of clothing. This cuts down on resources and pollution and allows fabrics to live a second life as someone’s favourite shirt or a trendy streetwear outfit. This might seem like a small step but keeping textiles out of landfills and putting them to use to make something new has a big, positive impact on the environment, the industry, and your own personal wardrobe.
What are Some Examples of Sustainable Clothing?
Sustainable clothing can include circular fashion innovations. This includes “closed-loop” systems that recycle forms of polyester and other plastic-based materials and reuse them in fashion production. This is a manufacturing approach that aims to recover discarded materials and waste, putting them back to use rather than in landfills. Other more common examples of sustainable fashion in place today include second hand clothing, swapping, sharing, thrifting, and renting clothes.
3 Ways to Prioritize Sustainable Clothing in Your Wardrobe
- Purchase clothes made locally or manufactured with factories holding certifications that pledge to invest in better technologies that allow for reduction in water, increase use of renewable energy or can use or develop recycled materials.
- Purchase thrift or second hand clothing
- Take care of the clothes you have by mending, tailoring, and altering them to match current tastes
What Is Sustainable Material?
Sustainable material means eliminating the negative impact on natural resources. Raw materials can be produced in required volumes without depleting non-renewable resources. For example, Viscose is made from trees, if the fabric mill sources viscose from a supplier that pledges to replace the same amount of trees that it cuts down, it will become a sustainable source of the material. The goal is not to disrupt the natural equilibrium of the environment and keep biodiversity.
Additionally, renewable highly recyclable materials that can be reprocessed without needing additional raw materials would also be considered a sustainable material. Recycling any material natural or man-made is a sustainable practise because it takes away the need to source virgin materials.
Plant-based materials like wood and bamboo are quick to biodegrade which is good for a linear business model but if you want to recycle cellulose fibre it starts to lose its strength and is not the best for a circular business model. You would not be able to have a 100% recycled cotton t-shirt, it would need to be a blend of virgin and recycled cotton. Currently, we can achieve up to 30% of recycled cotton content before fabric starts to fail the quality audits needed for manufacturing.
It has become more and more important to check labels when choosing sustainable clothing. Plant-based doesn’t always mean better, and synthetic doesn’t always mean a product is bad. Lots of fabrics are being marketed as sustainable but determining what is actually green and what is greenwashed is a matter of research and reading the labels.
What Makes a Brand Sustainable?
A sustainable clothing brand looks beyond the company’s bottom line and prioritizes its environmental impact and ethical choices in supply chains equally. Companies that want to connect with their consumer bases will remain open and transparent about their efforts to become more sustainable. A brand that promotes sustainable clothing values a loyal customer base and looks for consumers who value eco-friendly materials, fair living wages, and reducing waste.
With today’s younger generations pushing green initiatives, a sustainable brand is more desirable. Brands that are promoting sustainable products and materials have increased visibility in a market saturated by fast fashion. A commitment to green practices keeps customers coming back and even caters to the 73% of millennials who are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.
Is Sustainable Clothing Important to Today’s Kids?
While millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, Gen Z is leading the charge on sustainability and climate change. Parents of Gen Z children have taken the opportunity to integrate conversations about responsible shopping and the consequences of behaviours into their upbringing. This education has formed a generation of Earth advocates looking for a better way to stay fashionable.
Which Generation is Leading the Charge on Sustainable Clothing?
Gen Z has strong beliefs on the environment and social justice, among other issues. In fact, 75% of Gen Z consumers say sustainability is more important than brand name, and the vast majority of this generation is willing to pay more for sustainable products. It appears that Gen Z plays an increasingly bigger role in driving the textile industry forward. In just a year, Gen X’s preference to purchase based on sustainability rather than brand grew by 24% to 67%.
And this generation is not just taking your word for it. Companies that are advertising with misleading claims about the sustainability of their products are starting to face the consequences. The topic of “Greenwashing” for Gen Z is still trending and does not look like it will slow down any time soon.
Why is Gen Z Important in the Sustainable Kids’ Clothing Movement?
Millennials represent the largest group of consumers, and Boomers may have the largest buying power, but Gen Z’s spending power is on the rise. Clothing brands are struggling to harness their collective spending power and understand how their buying habits are different from generations before them. Gen Z can love you or boycott you – and then take to social media to get their friends to do the same.
In case you are asking yourself, “How does Gen Z get to be so influential without the means to do so?” Do not count them out – they are the biggest generation globally with a $3 trillion indirect annual spending power, but spending money isn’t the only way to be impactful. While they commit to being socially and environmentally conscious, they are disrupting the fashion world. One sustainable shopping practice at a time.
Shopping second hand and reducing spending overall is an impactful part of the Gen Z agenda. Focusing on fewer clothing purchases with high-quality brands is in stronger alignment with their Earth advocacy. And not just any clothes – second hand clothes fall under the same scrutiny as new clothes, and the label must reflect sustainability.
How Do I Find Sustainable Kids’ Clothes?
Become an avid label-reader. Starting locally with small business providers is an excellent way to build up your skill at label reading. Develop a relationship with the shop owner and educate yourself on where they source their kids’ clothes and if the materials are responsibly produced. Beginning close to home is a good way to develop your knowledge and skill at identifying quality sustainable clothing and learn how to recognize when kids’ clothes brands are advertising in a misleading way.
When you can, opt to buy clothing made with natural fabric fibres. However, we understand that it’s not realistic to meet all your clothing needs with natural materials alone – what good is a pair of leggings without a little stretch, anyway? Synthetics are an important part of the fashion industry, and no, they’re not all bad. Remember, it’s not about rigid rules and an all-or-nothing approach, every little step in the right direction counts.
One way you can make a small step with a positive impact in your kids clothing purchases is to be mindful about the synthetic fabrics you’re consuming. A great way to do this is to shop companies that use recycled synthetics, like polyester. In the care label look for the term RPET, with the “R” standing for recycled and the ”PET” for polyethylene terephthalate. Another way would be to select garments with a higher natural content for example 70% cotton 30% RPET. Lastly you could opt to buy less synthetic or synthetic -blend garments thus building up your sustainable wardrobe.
What is Supply Train Transparency and Why is it Important for Sustainable Clothing?
Supply train transparency is where companies know where and how their goods are produced. As the world became more globalized supply chains became more complex. Transparency helps build working relationships with suppliers and improve manufacturing standards at every step. There can be a long chain of people stretching around the world that contribute to a final garment or product. From the grass root farmers to fabric manufacturers to designers and pattern makers before getting to the end consumer.
New technology can help businesses manage data, increase the traceability of materials and improve compliance. It makes it easier for clothing companies to keep track of their products which is a great benefit for supply train transparency.
Another benefit is that this can be shared with the consumer to build customer confidence in the product and show their brand values are more purpose driven.
Can I Find Sustainable Kids’ Clothes Online?
You can also explore online kids’ clothing alternatives. Research the clothing brand - look for supply train transparency and thoroughly and familiarize yourself with its goals and mission for sustainability. If its mission aligns with yours, order a few of their kids’ clothes and see how it goes. If they meet your standards for sustainable clothing, reward them with your loyalty.
The Latest Fashion Trends Made Sustainably
When you think of sustainable brands you may not be envisioning some of the trendy outfits kids enjoy today or think that fashion can play a part in it. But it does! There are growing numbers of fashion brands today that have sustainability interwoven into the core of their business model and increasingly green choices are taking place in the design process. Selecting greener fabrics, requesting to use better quality dye stuff, not adding unnecessary additional washes or better consideration to the animation on the garment. For example choosing yarn embroidery instead of a sequin embroidery or reducing the amount of colours in a print or choosing a pigment print over a plastersole print.
Gen Woo is a kids’ clothes brand that is all about sustainably produced clothing in seasonless styles that are always in fashion. Our collections are made with at least 70% provisional greige fabric and 10% deadstock. We also focus on natural fibres as well as recycled synthetics for high-quality clothing pieces you’ll feel comfortable in and proud to wear.
At Gen Woo, we are constantly exploring better ways to become more sustainable and improve our business model. We value our customers who also align with our brand values and are grateful for their support. We greatly appreciate the generations who are fighting for a healthier Earth and better clothing production practices, including those practices that affect the textile workers. We will continue our journey to reduce our carbon footprint annually and move each part of our design and textile manufacturing process toward increased sustainability.