If fashion has a season, then that season (or at least one of them) is now, and it’s being celebrated in some of the world’s most iconic cities. New York Fashion Week just officially ended, with events in London, Milan, and Paris also happening in September.
Fashion weeks are intended to give designers a platform for presenting their newest collections to the world — or more specifically, the press, retail buyers, and other influencers within the industry. But over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been thinking a lot about how our style choices (and purchases) impact the planet — regardless of the season or what’s supposedly “in.”
Take textile waste, for instance. The U.S. EPA estimates that, while the textile recycling industry recycles approximately 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) each year, this stills leaves 85 percent of PCTW in our landfills. Textile mills also generate 20 percent of all freshwater pollution — which isn’t that surprising when you learn that these mills use 20,000 chemicals (many of them carcinogenic) to make clothes. According to the NRDC, Chinese textile factories alone produce roughly three billion tons of soot by burning coal for energy. This byproduct, in turn, pollutes the air and is linked to respiratory and heart disease. Textile production is a dirty industry indeed.
And while there are a number of designers and major fashion brands that are taking steps to use recycled materials and otherwise prioritize sustainable practices, we’d argue that few are taking drastic enough steps to move the needle, especially when we consider the severe impact of fast fashion brands in particular.
So we’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorite clothing and apparel brands that are not only reducing their environmental footprint but integrating sustainable practices into their very business practices — all while maintaining their integrity in terms of quality and style. Here are three eco-conscious brands making the fashion industry more sustainable.
Zero Waste Daniel
A designer we LOVE is Zero Waste Daniel, a pioneer in his own right when it comes to the sustainable fashion movement. Each piece in his fashion line is one of a kind, and handmade exclusively from fabric scraps from other fashion designers and factories.
One of the many benefits of pursuing a minimalist lifestyle is that it takes less of a toll on our environment and its resources. When we purchase garments that are intended to last longer, we cut down on our consumption. And when we repair clothing items when they wear out and consign, recycle, or repurpose them when they’ve reached the end of their life, we also reduce our impact. Through its Worn Wear program, Patagonia is making it possible to buy used products online, trade in new items at one of its stores, or repair your clothing yourself by using one of its handy guides. The company also runs the largest clothing repair facility in North America — its Reno, Nevada service center employs 45 full-time repair technicians and completes about 40,000 repairs per year.
Watch the inspiring full film below “about the stories we wear.”
The Shoe That Grows
An organization that’s more cause-based than mainstream fashion brand — but is nonetheless making an environmental impact — is Because International, the nonprofit behind The Shoe That Grows. Most children outgrow shoes in a year, but a single pair is built to last five years, which both lengthens the lifecycle of footwear and reduces the number of shoes in landfills. Because International has donated almost 300,000 shoes to children in need all around the world and is now doing their part to address needs here in our own Treasure Valley community via its back in school campaign. Teachers may nominate a student in need and donations from the community help to address these needs.
There are, of course, other brands doing their part to reduce their environmental impact. If we missed one you think we should feature on our blog, drop us a line!