What does eco-friendly fashion mean to you?
Is it vegan? Has a low carbon footprint? Fair Trade? Respects labor rights? Organic? Recycled? Upcycled? It seems that it’s rather difficult to pinpoint the term ‘eco-friendly fashion’ into one definition, as it can come in many different forms. So how do we know if something should be called eco-fashion, and more importantly, how do we know when something actually is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion? The consumer is faced with a dilemma in this situation: should you believe all the eco marketing touted by large name brands, and how do you support small brands without spending a fortune? There isn’t a simple answer to these questions, but making yourself more aware of the factors involved is the best way to make your own, educated decisions.
Eco-friendly fashion can mean different things to different people, and is certainly approached in different ways by different labels and designers. What really makes a fashion label eco-friendly is its commitment and motivation toward offering a collection of clothing or accessories that benefit as many beings as possible whilst treading on the earth as lightly as possible. This is not the easiest feat, since the production process involved in making fashion items is fragmented and hardly ever contained within the borders of one country. In a world where profit comes first, labels and designers with integrity may fall to the wayside because of their inability to offer items at competitive prices. But not if consumers recognize and support their efforts.
An honest fashion label shines through the crowd, and the passion for creating responsible, but beautiful, fashion is evident in every creation they offer. It’s when you know that what you’re wearing has really made a difference in the maker’s life, or is made with an awesome green technology that didn’t pollute the environment, or was beautifully crafted from clothes that would otherwise end up in landfill that you understand what eco-friendly fashion is. Although the term ‘eco’ refers to the environment, it also indicates the animals, people and resources involved, since they are all interconnected. So truly, the efforts of vegan, organic, recycled, and Fair Trade labels are aiming for the same goal, which is a fashion system that benefits the planet and all of its inhabitants.
When you find an eco-fashion label or designer whose work you love, take the initiative and find out about their processes and mission, so that you know where your next fashion find came from, and why you should feel so good about wearing it. Share the story with your friends and family, spreading what you love to those your care about. Find your definition of eco-fashion by exploring its numerous possibilities, and making yourself aware of all the amazing people working to make honest fashion a reality. The fashion industry won’t change overnight, but it’ll change more effectively and intelligently if we all collaborate to turn it into a system that enriches instead of destructing.
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