Fashion + Sustainability, Changing Trends?

by Kristen Wright, of BY DEFINITION

Is it worth the price? A controversial documentary called “The True Cost” came out in 2015 that finally exposed the behind-the-scenes of the fashion industry and waste. Yet still we continue to buy from the cheaply-made garments that are flooding our environment with toxic colors and waste. Just a few years ago, the data showed that 85 percent of textiles and clothing would eventually end up in a landfill with 95 percent of that 85 still being recyclable material. What can we do now? What habits can we form today that can make a change?  We at BY DEFINITION are working to reduce our impact on the environment by partnering with manufacturers that are making changes to their own processes.

The more we discuss and learn about this process and its effects on the environment, the more we can contribute to innovative strategies on manufacturing. One way in manufacturing printed shirts is by using water-based inks with corn-based solutions for screen-printing. Water-based inks can dissolve with water during the screening process rather than harsh chemicals and solvents needed for plastic-based screen inks. Using fewer chemicals is always the best choice for workers in manufacturing, for the planet, and for the consumer. There is further advancement needed for conservation in how screen printers dispose of ink waste and test products during their screen-printing process. Another way to incorporate sustainability in fashion is the disposing of garments and linen. All fabrics should be given to a recycling facility no matter how damaged. There is a huge market for selling used fabrics for recycling and that market itself is growing.

Another way we look at how we can manufacture and reduce our impact on the planet is by having designs on our clothes that can be worn in any season. We want to create fashion that lasts for many years, and that you can wash over and over again. Purchasing clothes to be worn for several seasons is a sustainable model.  Andrew Morgan, director of “The True Cost”, stated in an interview with the LA Times,  "You don't have to love fashion any less. Celebrate the beauty and artistry of clothing and invest in things you really love and will wear and take care of a long time. That in itself is sustainable."

Are we seeing the changes for a sustainable fashion industry in the near future? Yes and also no. The textile industry comes in second under the oil industry as a source of environmental pollution. Furthermore, we are learning from many sources, such as the film “The True Cost”, that the truth is that many garment workers across the globe are being exploited and underpaid. When purchasing clothes and researching companies, look for a WRAP certification. WRAP stands for a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, which is a globally-recognized third party company whose mission is to promote ethical work environments. We will continue to see articles being written as more discussions on this topic take place. For example, H&M will have all of its cotton sourced from sustainable manufacturers by 2020 according to their website. This is a great response to the life-changing film “The True Cost.”

At By Definition, we work to source from companies that are WRAP certified and have ethical work environments. We all need to push manufacturers to become more transparent and honest about their processes and waste. The online magazine, Business of Fashion, is constantly posting articles and bringing awareness to the fact that it is up to consumers to push the industry to become more transparent in their manufacturing process. Bear in mind this fact: up to 8,000 different chemicals are involved for turning raw materials into clothes and this includes all the dyeing and finishing. The fashion industry will become more sustainable if everyone becomes involved -  the designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Making sustainable garments the most desirable is the only way for the change to take place and to become the norm.

As  a start-up with a passion to make eco-friendly clothing, we are battling the trend for cheap goods and fast fashion. There is still a reluctance from the majority of consumers to buy the products that are eco-friendly and organic, as they tend to cost more. We can all help by promoting and sharing information listed in this article to friends and families to spread awareness. At the heart of our company is our foundation, which we donate five percent of our profits to organizations that are working to protect this sacred planet and advance towards more sustainable options. The more we talk about it and make others aware, the greater the tides will turn in changing how the industry runs. That process is ongoing. At BY DEFINITION, we are a part of this new change in fashion to make a difference.

This is a guest post by Kristen Wright.