There is a huge shift today in how consumers purchase fashion. It seems as though the idea of fast fashion is being flipped on its head as consumers are looking deeper than just the price tag into what clothes and brands they purchase. One of the biggest (and hotly debated) trends we see in fashion today is the idea of “sustainable” fashion. Even with the growing awareness, it can be tricky to define the movement. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that consumers are demanding brands be more environmentally and socio-economically aware as they design and produce their products. The term “sustainability” is such a huge and murky concept that it can be overwhelming to new brands that are looking to incorporate some aspect of it in to their new business.
When starting a clothing line, here are 5 ways to add sustainable practices to your fashion brand:
Production in the USA - Manufacturing your products in the USA not only lowers your carbon footprint, but helps you manage control of the quality of your items since you can travel to the factory more easily. In most instances, USA factories will have lower minimums than overseas factories so you can keep your inventory much lower and only produce what you need which will result in less waste.
Transparent ethical production - Sometimes your price point just doesn’t allow you to produce in the USA. No problem! Just because you need to produce overseas doesn’t mean you cannot find an ethical factory. Do your research and travel to create relationships with the people that are sewing your garments. Go to the factory and check out the working conditions. Try to take photos (if the factory allows) to show your customers who is sewing their garments. You are still providing jobs and stimulating the economy even if it is a different country!
Zero waste - There can be a lot of fabric waste during the cutting process in manufacturing and all of those leftover pieces make their way into landfills. To avoid this, you can work with your factory to review markers and confirm that the fabric is being utilized in the most efficient way before anything is cut. You can also find a creative way to utilize the extra fabric through smaller accessories such as headbands or keychains. This would increase your product offerings, maximize your fabric efficiency and help the planet.
Eco-friendly fabrics - this one is the trickiest. Sometimes a fiber might be eco-friendly, but the dye used or the way the fabric is manufactured can be detrimental to the environment. We suggest picking one aspect to focus on depending on the particular product line you carry. For instance, if you design yoga pants it will be hard to use a natural fiber as most compression fabric is polyester or nylon. However, you could focus on using polyester that is recycled from plastic bottles and you will still have a sustainable twist.
Being a “green” office space - Even focusing on your own office space can add to the sustainability of your brand. Maybe you are a paperless office or you all ride your bikes to work or all of the furniture is second hand. Sustainability can start at the ground level!
Those are just a few ways to add sustainability into your business. We want to hear from you! How do you incorporate sustainability?