Fashion has always been utilized as a means of self-expression. For decades people have developed their own unique style and identity using clothing, shoes, and accessories. However, fashion is not just a way to showcase your style; it’s also a way to present yourself in a certain way or dress the part required of a particular situation — professional, sporty, black-tie, etc.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry also carries with it some negative implications. For example, fast fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of clothing-related waste being incinerated or ending up in landfills every year. Furthermore, the fashion industry has also been known in the past to be quite narrow-minded and exclusionary, resulting in harmful ideals that lead to poor body image and a lack of inclusivity.
In this article, we’ll dig a bit more into these negative implications of fashion as well as how fashion is changing for the better.
Environmental sustainability is nothing new. For years now, scientists and environmentalists have examined the effects of climate change and the necessity of more sustainable practices to ensure our future. Fashion, however, is just starting to catch up.
Sustainable fashion is now a movement or a process that involves developing and distributing clothing and accessories in a way that aims to reduce pollution, waste, and other harmful effects that the fashion industry has on the environment. These processes involve practices such as local sourcing for materials, reducing resource consumption, and using more eco-friendly materials and techniques.
Essentially, sustainable fashion is an all-encompassing term used to describe anything fashion industry-related that aims to reduce carbon emissions. It also often includes using more ethical practices that support equality, social justice, and animal welfare.
To start, sustainable fashion isn’t only important; it’s necessary. As mentioned above, the fashion industry dumps a significant amount of clothing waste every year, which is detrimental to natural environments. The production and distribution of clothing items and accessories also produce high amounts of carbon dioxide, more than the aviation and maritime industries combined, and carbon emissions are one of the primary contributors to climate change.
Fashion garments are also often designed using cheap materials made of microplastics, which are extremely harmful to marine life but also clog up sewage systems and can even end up in tap water. Textile dyeing is another issue as it uses 93 billion cubic meters of water and contributes to 20% of all global wastewater.
Without sustainable fashion, these issues and many more would only continue to get worse. Sustainable fashion practices are necessary if we want to reverse the effects of climate change and contribute to a brighter and healthier future.
Today, we are seeing numerous trends pop up involving sustainable fashion. Fashion brands are continually finding new ways to make their clothing, accessories, processes, and practices more sustainable and ethical.
Some examples of sustainable fashion trends include:
- Fair-trade fashion – obtaining materials and creating fashion items in a more ethical way that improves wages, work conditions, and fair trade practices.
- Vegan fashion – fashion items made without harming animals or using animal byproducts.
- Slow fashion – otherwise known as artisanal fashion, are items made on a smaller scale by expert artisans to reduce the effects on the environment.
- Upcycled fashion – repurposing items to use for clothing and accessories. Thrifting is also another form of upcycled fashion.
- Green fashion – clothing and accessories made from eco-friendly or compostable materials.
For many, fashion is a major part of the identity they convey to the world. However, in the past, fashion was sometimes used in a way that created stereotypes and identities that had a negative effect on people’s sense of self and body image.
For example, using only thin models or creating notions that women need to dress feminine to be sexy and men need to dress masculine — these ideals perpetuated by the fashion industry were extremely harmful and damaging. However, as our society becomes more mindful, the fashion industry as well is changing to become more inclusive and gender-fluid.
Gender-fluid fashion is the creation of clothing that aims to break down gender stereotypes. It does not adhere to the gender binary of women or men and instead aims to be neutral or non-binary. Gender-neutral clothing often seeks to avoid traditional elements of femininity and masculinity, which makes it more inclusive of all people no matter how they identify.
The notion of gender-fluid clothing has actually been around for decades and dates as far back as ancient Greece. However, it has only recently become popular as society becomes more accepting and aware of changing gender norms. For years fashion that perpetuated limited gender stereotypes was hurtful and damaging for those who identified outside of traditional gender norms.
But now, as younger generations are fighting for awareness and inclusivity, fashion is following suit and becoming more gender fluid. This rise in gender-fluid fashion is important because it promotes inclusivity, healthy body image, and helps push society forward to show that everyone is diverse and unique and there is nothing wrong with someone being exactly who they are.
Though the fashion industry hasn’t always been a beacon of sustainability and inclusivity, it has shown that it is willing to do better and change. There will always be beliefs and systems from the past that were not ideal. The important thing to focus on is whether or not these systems are willing to change and do better going forward. And the fashion industry has always changed with the times and, as such, will likely only continue to become more sustainable, ethical, and inclusive as we move forward.