Sustainable Fashion: How to Recognize Ecological Products

Sustainable Fashion: How to Recognize Ecological Products

January 27, 2020

Today we will talk about a key topic: how to recognize an eco-friendly, ethical, and cruelty-free product. We will be answering the most frequently asked questions, but we’ll be happy to address anything we have not covered here.

What is sustainable fashion?

We can define sustainable fashion as a movement around environmental and social issues of the industry.

Sustainable fashion was most of all a "reaction" to a particularly "ugly" fashion sector, a sector that aims to reduce production costs in order to launch more and more collections at an increasingly lower price.

Let's talk about the big retail chains of Fast Fashion (or low cost fashion). Just think about the fact that these retailers can manufacture more than 50 collections in a single year.  Compare this to the classic spring/summer and autumn/winter collections we were used to.

It’s utterly senseless and is certainly linked to a much wider discussion: overconsumption.

Fast Fashion

Even before we just mentioned the term Fast Fashion, you’d probably already heard about it, but we'll explain what it is anyway. So, what exactly is Fast Fashion?

In this case we are not talking about a social movement, but about "mass production" or rather "exaggerated" scale of manufacturing. The worst thing is that this scourge of the planet was born of, and depends on, our compulsive shopping habits.

At a certain point in history we have chosen to buy dozens of clothes, dozens of shoes, dozens of bags. How many times are these items used? 2-3 times? What is your experience?

In the best case, we will give these garments away to someone who will make better use of them, otherwise we will deposit them in the appropriate clothing collection bins. But in most of the cases these items will end up in the landfill.

A huge waste of resources and energy. A devastating environmental impact. An underestimated social impact.

Do we really need to buy all these products? The Slow Fashion movement is therefore against Fast Fashion.

Slow Fashion

Unlike Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion is considered a movement of people whose goals are very much in line with those of sustainable fashion.

In short, we can define Slow Fashion in this way: a few high quality products, mostly artisan or semi-artisan, with classic bi-annual collections.

Very different from industrial Fast Fashion with 50 collections per year.

What distinguishes sustainable fashion from Slow Fashion? Certainly the materials that are used, since Slow Fashion is seen as a movement of traditional craftspeople who aim to reduce the number of clothes produced in favour of higher quality. While sustainable fashion - in addition to having the same goals - also aims to use environmentally friendly fabrics that further reduce the environmental impact of textile production.

Therefore, the ideal garment is the one created by craftspeople (not industries) using eco-friendly materials.

When fashion is sustainable

Fashion is sustainable when the product is not only made and certified to have a small environmental footprint, but is also ethical from a social point of view; when it is made without exploiting cheap labour and respects workers' rights.

Find out more by reading our article on Textile Certifications

We know how difficult it is to find "the sustainable product par excellence", but to help you out, we want to explain some concepts that you will often hear about if you are fascinated by this sector.

Eco-Friendly Clothing

Clothing is eco-friendly when it has textile certifications to ensure it is produced in a way that leaves a small environmental footprint. Usually, when talking about ecological clothing, you start with certified textile fibres...but it is not always so simple.

Let's suppose that an Italian company buys cotton to process and create t-shirts in its own factories. The same company has an environmental certification that guarantees no toxic substances harmful to the environment are used during the manufacturing of these t-shirts.

This is a big step forward, but we know that most cotton comes from developing countries in Asia, where large multinationals exploit cheap labour, pollute aquifers, occupy land and often cause unchecked deforestation.

In this case the t-shirt might seem environmentally friendly, but what do we know about where the cotton comes from?

Organic Clothing

This is what changes it. Organic clothing requires certification of the textile fibre, so, assuming it is cotton, we can be sure that the organic label means it was grown following organic farming standards.

Therefore, we can call organic textile an eco-friendly material and also ethical in most cases (however, it depends on the type of certification given to the fibre). However, we can call the final garment sustainable only it was manufactured (dyed, printed, cut, sewn, packaged) in eco-friendly and ethical manner.

Fairtrade Clothing

Ethically sound, but with no guarantee that it is eco-friendly. That’s unless the product in question has more than one certification. For example, it may be certified Fair trade and environmentally friendly, that is not uncommon.

Usually, purchasing Fair trade clothing helps rural/local communities in developing countries.

Ethical Clothing

Very similar to Fair trade, but more generic. In this case it means products made by craftspeople, or even by companies, that demonstrate a concrete action commitment to solving social problems that afflict humanity (fair pay, respecting worker's rights, .

Vegan Clothing

Vegan clothing does not use animal-based materials and also does not exploit animals.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers though have been spotted to 'greenwash' around the concept of Vegan. 

Why sustainable fashion is important

We believe that the answer to this question lies in every line of this article - sustainable fashion is important to safeguard the future of our planet.

Over the last twenty years we have literally consumed it, and the textile sector is largely responsible for the environmental and social damage.

Today we are all more aware about the damage of fashion industry, but not all of us are willing to say 'no' to fast fashion..

So would you like to buy ethical and eco-friendly products? Slow Nature is the right place to come because it offers an exclusive online collection of sustainable fashion.

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