There are more ethical fashion brands to choose from now than ever before. With both consumers and brands becoming more conscious of the impact that fashion has on our environment, animal welfare, worker welfare and our health, it’s now easier to make a conscious choice to buy ethical fashion. With many big brands such as ASOS making a pledge to sell and produce more ethical fashion, consumers are becoming more aware of the downsides to one of the largest global industries. A third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact.
Some facts about the fashion industry:
- Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world
- A €25 T-shirt would only be €1.35 more expensive if the wages of the worker making it were doubled
- Approximately 7,000 litres of water are needed to produce one pair of jeans
- Compared 2002, the average person buys 60% more clothing and keeps them for half as long
- Clothes made from polyester can take up to 200 years to break down
- 25% of the world’s chemicals are used for textile production
We spoke to Lara from Amaella, a sustainable lingerie company who are a tenant in the Allia Future Business Centre based in Cambridge, and have recently launched a campaign #LoveFashionHateWaste.
Their lingerie and nightwear is responsibly sourced. The women who create the products are paid a living wage, and the working conditions are closely monitored to ensure they are treated fairly. All items are free from toxic chemicals, and they use certified organic cotton. Their items are made to last, so that the impact on the environment is reduced.
What inspired Amaella to run the #LoveFashionHateWaste campaign?
£140 million pounds worth of unsold clothes end up on landfill each year in the UK. It is such a waste. Imagine all the social good we could do with that money. Julie and I could not stand still and watch this happening, we had to do something so we came up with the idea of #LoveFashionHateWaste campaign. It is all about enjoying fashion at the same time as trying to minimise waste.
It seems we are not the only ones concerned about fashion waste because we have received a very positive response.
Could you explain a bit about the Slow Lingerie Movement, and why you started it?
As we tell in our Slow Fashion blog, “slow fashion represents all things ‘eco’, ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ in one unified movement.”
It is about approaching fashion from a whole new perspective; appreciating the value behind a garment, how it has been made, the materials, and where it comes from. It is about nurturing the skills and artisans that we are losing at the expense of fast fashion.
Do Amaella think it’s important to consider other ethics in fashion outside of sustainability?
We believe every step towards a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry counts, no matter the magnitude. However, there is a certain amount of greenwashing (when a product or business spend more resources on making it appear that they are environmentally friendly, rather than actually putting it into practice).
If you look at the latest reports in the fashion industry, sustainability and workers’ rights are key issues. In our view, ensuring a living wage for textile workers is essential to end exploitation.
What do you think needs to change to encourage a slow fashion movement globally?
We believe the only way is to involve as many people as possible. This isn’t a one person or one brand task. It needs the involvement of everyone – governments, consumers, brands, retailers, and manufacturers; but everyone can do their bit, in their own way.
Do you have any suggestions to reduce fashion waste?
Try to become more sustainable gradually. Focus on the quality. A longer-lasting quality item is best, and a high price does not always mean better quality. Look at the composition of materials; for example, a 100% wool cardigan will likely be better quality than 20% wool and 80% polyester, and polyester is a pollutant. It is also a good idea to look at the details – the way the buttons are sewn, the zips, the linings, and the pockets for example.
Look to highstreets brands such as H&M who use organic cotton and have a conscious clothing range. The H&M group also doesn’t own any factories, and their products are made by independent suppliers, often in developing countries.
Both Zara and H&M have containers in store to recycle unwanted clothes, and H&M even reward you with a £5 vouchers to spend in store.
We also recommend taking a look in charity and vintage shops, and using pre-loved online markets like Ebay and ASOS marketplace to reduce fashion waste.
Allia aligns its work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This start-up supports: