Fashion: from trend to sustainability

Sustainability in fashion is a constantly recurring topic. More and more fashion companies are using eco-friendly textiles and remaking worn clothes instead of ‘fast fashion’. 

Text and photos by Julia Pulm and Robin Nguyen 

2,700 liters. This is the amount of water that is necessary for the manufacturing of one T-Shirt. Most of these T-Shirts are made out of a combination of cotton and polyester. The settlement of cotton needs chemical pesticide, while polyester is formed by non-renewable resources such as coal and petroleum. Factory employees are staining the clothes with the use of chemicals, before the finished T-Shirt will be mostly shipped from an Asian factory to a store or the customer’s house all over the world. All of those chemical interventions are straining the environment we are living in.  

The way of a T-Shirt and its production to the customer is shown in the museum ‘Fashion For Good’. The museum, opened in the city center of Amsterdam in 2019, aims at showing visitors the stories behind clothes and promote sustainability and ethics in fashion. The first floor of the exhibition houses a collection of recycled wedding dresses, including a lilac summer dress designed by Stella McCartney. The lilac colour is gained through color pigments from nature and was the idea of the British company ‘Colorifix’. 

According to the forecasting company ‘WGSN’, the zero waste movement will be one of the most growing trends in 2019. For instance, the new collection of ‘Zero + Maria Cornejo’ in collaboration with the car producer ‘Hyundai’. They turned car seat waste into an upcycled and exclusive fashion collection in September 2019. Also, ‘Dior’ dedicated his latest fashion week collection to sustainability. The fashion designer set up trees around the catwalk, which were taken because they needed care. Soon, these trees will be replanted at urban city projects.  

The implementation of sustainability in fashion shows a general change in the fashion industry itself. “With climate change, deforestation and stratospheric ozone loss, consumers start paying more attention to sustainability.” says Melanie Brown, the CEO of ByBrown, a premium Amsterdam-based rainwear brand. 

Most global trends impact businesses as it moves towards a more sustainable economy”

“You can observe the sustainable practice through the change in texture, garment, shape and the rise of a slow and eco-conscious brand.” Instead of using polyester, fashion companies are reaching for organic cotton and more eco-friendly textiles. Also, second hand shops have become more popular. Especially among the younger generation. “Fashion is not just about being trendy, it’s about the look and feelings clothes give. It’s a reflection of an individual and society. And sustainability is part of this reflection”, says Melanie Brown. 

The museum ‘Fashion For Good’.

Sustainability can be seen in different ways. It means partly the method of production and manufacturing, but it also includes remaking and recycling of clothing. In addition to that, good working conditions for factory employees play a role as well. 

Sustainable fashion is not cheap and it’s not for everyone but it guides the society to a more environmentally conscious place”

According to a statistic of the institution ‘Statista’ about sustainability in the fashion industry in Germany, the revenue of textiles with a Fairtrade sign is increasing each year. While in 2015 the revenue of clothing under fair trade production was 71,2 million euro, the revenue in 2018 was scaled at 146,07 million euro. So, even in the next few years consumers will make an effort to cut down waste as much as possible and focusing increasingly on the origin of a piece of clothing.  

More and more people are excited about the future of sustainable fashion. From small brands to giant fashion symbols, they all work towards an eco-conscious message. The future of sustainable fashion is considered to be bright and we can all contribute to it through our daily choices. Also, Melanie Brown takes up the cause of combining the environmental and socio-economic aspects of sustainable fashion.  “I’m happy that I can contribute to the movement and many other brands are heading toward that too.”