So, what are you wearing right now? No seriously.

What are you wearing right now?

More importantly, do you know where your clothes were made, how they were made and who they were made by?

After years spent drinking the kool-aid of fast fashion, we are largely ill-conditioned to consider the environmental and economic impacts of the clothes we buy. But increasingly, sartorial choices are a matter of ethics as well as fashion. People want to look good without doing bad. And a new wave of ethical retailers and eco-conscious consumers are driving exciting developments in sustainable fashion.

We live in an increasingly eco-conscious world

From halterneck tops and high heels to skinny jeans and suede jackets, ‘fashion’ is – for many people – largely about shaping and projecting identity. But the simple fact is that we buy too much. It’s estimated that EU consumers dump 5.8m tonnes of textiles into landfill each year. As consumers become more ecologically-minded, people are joining the dots between materialism and environmental challenges. Younger people especially are driven to do right by Mother Nature.

Every year around 80bn garments are produced using virgin resources. Many column inches have been devoted to complex issues such as the pollution caused by the production of denim, or poor working conditions in factories that produce garments for popular consumer labels. Slowly we can see consumer awareness turning into action as a new breed of ethically mobilised shopper marries their principles with their purchasing decisions.

The impact of Covid-19

Sustainable fashion was already a growing trend before the grim reports of a viral outbreak began surfacing. But it’s reasonable to assume that the effects of Covid-19 will accelerate a more widespread emergence of sustainable fashion. After all, there’s nothing like a global lockdown to bring unchecked consumerism to a shuddering halt and force people to consider the relationship between humanity and nature.

If the need for newness was habitual, lockdown will have forced many to go cold turkey – give or take the semi-incessant thrum of delivery vans busily bridging the gap between online retailers and Britain’s doorsteps. There’s also the fact that restrictions on our social lives have led to people treating clothes in a more functional way. Dressing to impress is much less of a thing when the highlight of your social life is the weekly food shop. Priorities have changed. People have realised they don’t need a constant supply of newness.

Worse for wear, better for repair

A culture of throwaway fashion has created generations of consumers who lack the knowledge to repair clothes. It’s a sharp contrast to the make-do-and-mend stoicism of the post-war years. Now the tide is beginning to turn. A simple search on YouTube will reveal how to repair most garments quickly and cheaply. And there are dozens of blogs with captive audiences – such as Fast Fashion Therapy, Worn Values and Sustainably Chic – that are teaching the practical skills needed to restore tired garms, while preaching the values of slow fashion.

The options are out there

Environmentally conscious options are out there at all price points and all demographics. From wallet-friendly offerings like Asos’s responsible edit and H&M’s Conscious range, through to high-end and luxury brands like Mother Of Pearl and Eileen Fisher. Then there’s the innovators and disruptors like Ecoalf, Alternative Apparel, Pact and ABLE.

Increased environmental awareness means there’s never been more choice for ethically-minded consumers. Everyone can shop in a way that fits their moral values as well as their measurements – without compromising style – for a look endorsed by Mother Nature herself.

The challenge for emerging brands

It’s a great time to launch a sustainable fashion brand. The challenge in an increasingly busy marketplace is getting your brand out there and your message heard. As experts in Fashion PR, we can help you. Here’s how.