What does sustainable fashion actually mean?

As conscious consumers, we must do our best to make sustainable choices—from the packaging to the product itself—including food and beverage, beauty products, cleaning products, and of course, the clothes we wear.

It's easy to fall for greenwashing or be tempted to buy from clothing lines that say they are sustainable, but in reality, aren’t. Some fashion brands may introduce a “conscious collection”, but putting dollars towards them is funding the rest of the company, which may also include unethical employment practices and fast fashion that is filled with microplastics, which pollutes our planet.

To help clarify what sustainable fashion actually looks like, Environment 911 consulted Vancouver-based fashion mogul Selina Ho for her thoughts. Selina is the founder of Recloseted, a brand that launches and scales slow-fashion brands and helps existing brands become more sustainable through business and sustainability consulting services and online programs. Selina’s mission with Recloseted is to disrupt the fast-fashion industry, empowering businesses and consumers to make more sustainable choices in fashion.

So what does sustainable fashion actually mean? Here are insights from fashion expert Selina Ho...

reclosetedVincent Le/@mrvincredible"The word “sustainability” has been used more and more as people are increasingly aware of changes in the environment and climate. But what does sustainability actually mean when it’s applied to fashion?

"Personally, I believe that the concept of sustainability means that we leave enough resources for future generations. Using that lens, when applied to fashion, it means that we rethink the garment industry so that there’s enough clean water, land, animals, etc. for generations to come.

"From a brand perspective, it means that fashion companies should be more intentional with their products at five key stages: 

  1. At the design stage: Instead of capitalizing on trends, brands should focus on solving a problem for their ideal customer and creating high-quality products that are needed and worn for years to come.
  2. At the sourcing stage: Instead of finding the cheapest fabric, consider other factors, such as quality and longevity, composition (is it full of synthetic materials that will leech microplastics into our waters when washed), etc.
  3. At the production stage: Partner with ethical production companies that pay their garment workers a living wage and treat them with respect. Brands should share a code of conduct and establish a good working relationship with their production partners.  
  4. At the marketing and sales stage: When brands intentionally design and create products that solve a problem and a consumer’s need, it makes the marketing and sales process much easier! Instead of discounting products to sell inventory and struggling to grow and scale your brand, ensure you create intentional products that are needed. 
  5. At the end of life: Rethink what the “end of life” looks like for garments and accessories that are created. Instead of turning a blind eye, implement initiatives like take-back programs or explain to consumers how their pieces can be upcycled or downcycled.

There are many other aspects when it comes to sustainable fashion, but it’s important to rethink the current linear fashion economy that consists of taking, making, consuming and discarding—and challenge it to become a more circular economy that has regeneration in mind."

For more information about sustainable fashion and how you can make more informed choices for our planet, please visit Recloseted.