In an ever-changing world today, fashion is one of the most critical industries in the world today. With every new year, new trends and styles are prominent across all demographics. From online retailers to physical stores to magazines, there’s inspiration everywhere. The amalgamation of fast fashion along with technology has transformed fashion from being a mere way to cover our bodies to a form of self-expression, each unique to every individual.
We all love fashion just as much as the next person: quirky outfits, snazzy accessories, statement shoes, expressing one’s individuality! What’s not to love?
However, we live in a world today where artisan coffee costs more than a T-shirt. This is the world of Fast Fashion and it’s a major problem. The fashion industry contributes to 10% of the annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry itself would be responsible for 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Not just that, but devastating physical environment damage and severe human rights abuse are some of the consequences of fashion, especially fast fashion.
That’s when the realm of eco-fashion was born. Eco is short for ecology, or the concept of interactions of organisms with the environment. An eco-fashion brand is one that attempts to minimise their impact on the environment and often, the health of the consumers and the working conditions of those making the clothes. Theoretically, eco-fashion sounds great!
However, it is impossible to achieve any garment that is 100% eco-friendly since all clothing items require energy, water and other resources to be manufactured.
There is also a significant constant threat of brands using greenwashing. Greenwashing occurs when a brand markets itself or displays its brand image to be a lot more ethical and eco-conscious than it actually is. This is a controversy that follows many prominent fast fashion brands today who have ‘sustainable’ or ‘conscious’ lines which produce the same volumes of carbon footprint as regular clothing. Such brands easily brainwash consumers into believing they are buying clothing that is not harmful to the environment. Thus, now, more than ever, it is crucial that globally, each individual is aware and takes a stride in the right direction to live a more sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. Here are a few commonly used eco fashion terms:
Fair trade: An arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade. Members of the fairtrade movement add the payment of higher prices to exporters as well as improved social and environmental standards
Traceability: The capability to trace something. In some cases, it is interpreted as the ability to verify the history, location or application of an item by means of documented recorded identification. Traceability is an important part of circular fashion.
Organic clothing: Organic clothing is clothing made from materials raised in or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. Organic clothing may be composed of Cotton, Jute, Silk, Ramie or Wool. Textiles do not need to be 100% organic to use the organic label.
A textile product carrying the GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibers whereas a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’ must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fibers.
Vegan clothing: Clothing made from natural, plant-based fabrics like cotton, linen and hemp. Synthetics are also animal-friendly alternatives to materials like leather, wool and silk.
Circular economy: refers to the entire lifecycle of a product and centers on a circle of “create, use, recycle”, rather than the linear “create, use, dispose”. It looks at products beyond their original function and timespan and focuses on how their materials can be consistently utilized and repurposed. Circular fashion takes into consideration everything including the design, sourcing, transportation, storage, marketing, sale and disposal of the product.
Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It’s a movement started by small independent brands that decided to oppose the fast pace of the conventional fashion calendar. Slow fashion brands don’t design to seasons or release seasonal collections. They create products that are long-lasting in terms of design, style, wearability, and quality. They might or might not be sustainable. Even if using synthetic materials, as offer and demand are meeting and adjusting, there is less waste. Slow-fashion brands tend to avoid being trend-driven and instead focus on classic pieces that will stand the test of time.
Kosha is a brand whose ethos is driven by the concept of slow fashion and our mission for slow immersive travel through our durable and technical clothing is something that is reflected in each garment. It is a great start for eco-conscious shoppers looking for clothing made in India.
Swap parties are meetings or get-togethers where participants exchange pieces of clothing. It is a fantastic way to renew your closet and save quite a lot of money!
Transparency: credible, comprehensive and comparable public disclosure of data and information about fashion’s supply chains, business practices and the impacts of these practices on workers, communities and the environment.
These days, it often becomes quite hard to distinguish between eco-friendly and just fashion. However, to be conscious at all times takes a bit of practice! Here are a few tips to be eco-consciously fashionable:
– Buying fewer, higher quality clothing- Reduce is the first step towards achieving sustainability. You may be spending more at first, but if you break it down to cost-per-wear, it’s worth it. The fit will be better and the clothes will last longer than three washes of a fast fashion skirt.
– Repair loved garments. Greenpeace suggests that it may be better to repair your garments instead of recycling them and continuing the buying-purging cycle. The Waste and Resource Action Program (or WARP) agrees, estimating that extending the life of your clothes for just three months will lead to a 5-10% reduction in the carbon, water and waste footprints caused by an unsustainable rate of fashion production and consumption. Thus, at Kosha we offer a lifetime of free repair and service for any garment purchased!
– Buy from your neighbours and friends: A lot of cities now have Facebook buy and sell and various Instagram shops have clothing groups you can join.
– Shop from sustainable or eco-conscious clothing brands: Such brands take into consideration their environmental impact and most often, one garment will last you way longer. Kosha is your go to for #noleathernofeather winter wear in India.
– Organize a clothing swap with your friends or coworkers. It is a fun way to socialize and recycle/upcycle loved garments. It brings about a wardrobe change at no cost!
This list is an ever evolving one, with new terms being introduced as the fashion & consumer products’ industry becomes more sustainable. The journey has just begun. To know more about your garments, check out our Know Your Garments Introductory Guide and learn about Technical Textiles.
This article is written by Team Kosha member: Hithika Panjabi
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