What is Sustainable Fashion?

Have you ever experienced falling asleep during a lecture, then eventually waking up to realize that the lecture has progressed to the point where you no longer have any idea what the lecturer is talking about and if you were to ask any questions, everyone would find out how lost you are?

Well, that’s exactly how I’m feeling when it comes to sustainable fashion.

I have been running a fashion and lifestyle blog for over a year now and I am deeply ashamed to admit that I know barely anything about sustainable fashion. Even though I feel that sustainability is one of the most important subjects when it comes to the future of the fashion industry, I have felt extremely hesitant about handling it on my blog because of my very limited knowledge of the actual facts surrounding it.

I wrote my Bachelors’ Thesis on the subject of corporate social responsibility reporting and while conducting my research I was overwhelmed by how broad the concept of sustainability really is and how many areas have to be taken into consideration when the whole life cycle of an individual product is assessed.

At this point I’m so confused that it is impossible for me to make any kind of informed decisions as a consumer. Sustainability is being discussed on every media platform but I feel that the information being given to people is often unclear, misleading and sometimes even entirely false. I guess I just have to accept that we are living in a world were people are being led astray by fake news and deliberately inaccurate publications even when it comes to the most serious of subjects.

I have so many questions that I want to find answers to before I begin my fashion studies at Solent University. What materials should I favour? Are recycled, synthetic materials better than organic, natural fibres? Is it better to buy a pre-owned/second-hand ”non-sustainably” produced product rather than buying a new sustainably produced product? What charities or research related to sustainability should or could I support? Which brands can be considered to be sustainable at the moment and on what grounds? What is the difference between sustainable and responsible? How should I look after my clothes so that I can make them last as long as possible? How, with what and how often should I wash my clothes in order to keep the environmental effects of laundry to a minimum? What should I do with the garments I no longer want to keep? Is recycling a ”better” option than donating to charity? 

I’m sure the answers to these questions are very straightforward and obvious to some of you reading this post. To be honest, I have been afraid to even bring up this topic before now because of all the eco-shaming going on especially on social media. I understand that there are a lot of people out there who undoubtedly have a much deeper and broader understanding of these themes than the average consumer but in my opinion shaming other people NEVER helps. Sharing your knowledge and insights in a compassionate and positive way is what helps.

Fashion is and will continue to be a huge part of my day-to-day life as a consumer as well as a fashion student and blogger. I also hope to be working in the fashion industry in the future. While I fully agree with Geoffrey B. Small’s statement of fashion being “a massive human, social and environmental disgrace in need of a paradigm shift,” I still believe that fashion can also be the cure and that 2019 is the year that fashion begins to clean up its act. During the next few months I will be writing about everything I find out about this extremely complex and diverse issue. I realize that this subject, like all important subjects, can never be stripped down to a simple right and wrong way to go about things - there’s always numerous contrasting ways to look at and reach the same goals. This being said, I want to build an understanding that I can base my personal decisions on and hopefully be able to positively contribute through my own consumer behaviour. You are very welcome to join me on this journey into the labyrinthine world of sustainable fashion.