It pays to give back to the world - at least, that's the mantra that many fashion designers are now trying to implement. For years, the fashion industry has been a scourge on the environment, with "fast fashion" leading to excessive waste, and unethical material sourcing leaving the earth worse for wear (if you'll pardon the pun). In fact, the fashion industry is second only to the oil industry in terms of its negative environmental impact! However, industry leaders are taking note and changing their practices to reflect the idea that sustainability should be a crucial aspect of the fashion world. This year's Fashion Week will feature some of the designers that are making a green dent in the clothing industry, which may even encourage other designers to follow suit.
Stella McCartney's business isn't entirely sustainable, as achieving total sustainability is an incredibly slow and difficult process for large businesses. However, McCartney has made more than a few positive changes to her company in an attempt to bring green back to the fashion world. Her offices and studios utilize wind and other renewable energy sources to reduce their environmental impact, and as far as the clothing goes, she uses organic cotton whenever possible, ethically sourced wool, recycled materials for handbag linings and refuses to utilize any fur in her designs. You can see her cutting-edge and environmentally friendly designs at Paris Fashion Week on October 3rd.
Another heavy-hitter in the fashion world, Vivienne Westwood has been an advocate of the green initiative for many years, with an emphasis on buying quality over quantity to reduce waste. Because of her desire to prevent ecological damage from over-consumption, she frequently uses recycled material for her clothing and handbags. She's even created a line of recycled handbags which are crafted by impoverished women in Africa, which helps these women provide for their needy families. Her styles will be exhibited at Paris Fashion Week on October 1st.
She may be an up-and-comer, but Minan Wong's eco-friendly practices are hard to ignore. Her line, which will be featured at New York Fashion Week's "Ones to Watch" show on September 12th, consists largely of recycled textiles and organic cotton, all ethically and locally sourced in the United States. Wong's business even ensures that the workers who are manufacturing her textiles are all paid a fair and decent wage. Her styles are meant to be long-lasting so that the wearer can repurpose the clothing for years to come and thus reduce their environmental footprint further. So not only is her line created responsibly, but it also encourages the buyers to be responsible, too!
The Green Culture Change
Designers like these show just how achievable sustainability can be. When an environmental mindset permeates the culture of a company, green initiatives become simply a way of doing business and not a radical counter-cultural shift. And with the ever-growing technological advances that can help recycle clothing fibers, the next step is for fashion designers to implement more practices that encourage recycling as well as ethical sourcing.
These changes are critical to the survival of the planet and to the people on it. Green, environmentally friendly fashion and beauty companies like AHAVA can become the new norm if people take note and advocate for a healthier, more conscientious approach to business.