Fashionable sustainability

It’s been said that consumers are victims of advertising and marketing. However, after the previous lecture I started thinking that they are not just victims of that, but also victims of lack of knowledge and caring when it comes to the goods they consume. Some industries are also less transparent than others, like fashion industry let’s say. Continuously changing fashion trends allure people to consume more and more, but nobody really seems to know how our clothing is made. The only thing that most of us agree is that fashion industry is a bad industry. And yet, this does not seem to matter much as most of us still keep on buying clothing that we know that are manufactured in shady and unsustainable conditions. Maybe the reason for this is that so far the “bad” fashion has been dominating and steering the consumer behavior for a quite long, and the mainstream has not considered ecological textiles very fashionable yet. Only very few high fashion labels, such as Stella McCartney, has been able make eco-design fashionable, although on the other hand, only very few of us can actually afford buying these products.

Although there has been many environmental campaigns to improve people’s knowledge about the truth of fashion design, such as Cleaner Cotton Campaign and Greenpeace’s Detox campaign, the changes in the industry are still happening slowly. In my opinion, something bigger could be achieved if the biggest mainstream fashion houses, such as Hennes & Mauritz, Zara and Adidas, would start concentrating more on ethical and sustainable clothing lines. Although in my opinion, the consumers should carry their responsibility on the choices they make, also fashion houses should get a grip and start offering only good quality products that are fairly produced. Of course this option would probably mean higher prices, but after all, maybe that is the starting for the bigger change that the world needs; making people to consume less and making them to appreciate good quality and fairly produced goods.

-Elina

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1 comment
  1. annasofiah said:

    I was thinking about writing partly about the same subject, so decided to comment here instead… The group work we did got me thinking about big companies’ sustainaibility, both on construction and on fashion field. Although there are small and medium-sized enterprises doing business in a sustainable way in both of these industries (for example the Finnish clothing company Remake), it’s not enough to really make to a long-lasting difference on a larger scale.

    As long as it’s much easier and more profitable to produce “unsustainable” clothes and customers don’t question the background of the clothing, nothing will change. In my opinion one of the most hypocritical matters is the big fashion houses’, like H&M’s and Zara’s that Elina mentioned, use of “organic” cotton (there have been investigations done proving that not all the cotton claimed to be organic has actually been it). The companies make it seem like a big step toward sustainability, although the amount of organic cotton out all the cotton used is low (in H&M around 8%), but to me this is in many cases just greenwashing and window-dressing, and clearly I’m not the only one having this thought: e.g. ‘Is H&M the new home of ethical fashion?’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/apr/07/hennes-mauritz-h-and-m). In addition, there are of course very complex supply chains behind most of these big fashion houses, and although e.g H&M has 75 auditors for assessing social and environmental conditions in factories, they still don’t take the whole responsibility as they don’t own the factories.

    So I agree with Elina that big fashion houses should take care of their part and possibilities to make the fashion world a more sustainable place, but unfortunately I see it very unlikely to happen in the near future. However, I’m happy to see more social and sustainable SME’s (like the already mentioned Remake) doing their part on this issue, so there’s hope in this world as well.

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