Updated: Apr 10
What IS It, exactly?
According to the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (a Research Centre based at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London):
Fashion is a global industry worth $2.5 trillion dollars (1), which employs around 60 million people (2), and is said to be one of the world’s most polluting industries. Modern Day Slavery is an endemic part of fashion’s business (3), and a lack of transparency and traceability across fashion supply chains is a major challenge.
We know these things to be true - but how often do we catch ourselves clicking BUY on Amazon because it arrives in one-day. I know I've fallen culprit to this.
Before I dive into the “sustainable fashion/clothing” or “clean beauty” world with you, we need to understand what that means exactly. There is no official definition, nor certification labels for clean beauty products. Clean beauty is more of a global concept that defines the future of the beauty sector. Therefore, we need to understand what each ingredient does and means to understand what level of “clean” the brand truly is due to no standards. This makes it harder to really be “clean” with your beauty. Sustainable fashion is MUCH easier to define and understand as it does have set standards.
OVERVIEW OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION TERMS
The United Nations provides one of the best definitions of sustainable practices. To paraphrase, sustainability is about promoting energy and resource efficiency: advocating for sustainable infrastructure, better work conditions, and improved quality of life. The following are the goals that sustainable companies adhere to:
Gender equality: equal wages, status, and rights for men and women within an organization.
Affordable and clean energy: the use of alternative energy sources to cut consumption and optimize production processes.
Decent work and economic growth: this refers to both the company and the country or countries it operates in.
Industry, innovation, and infrastructure: adoption of cutting-edge technologies and business practices to improve efficiency.
Responsible consumption and production: reducing the consumption of water, energy, and other resources to streamline business processes.
Partnership for the goals: companies often work closely with local communities and administration to reach a higher level of sustainability.
Having the label “sustainable” means they adhere to the goals above, also that the brand sources organic or recycled materials, and makes sure suppliers follow sustainable business practices. There will be no use of chemicals and other harmful substances. At the same time, the company should also be actively striving to reduce waste, its physical footprint, and its overall energy/resource consumption. If the organization does all of these things, the brand becomes eligible for a sustainable certificate. There are numerous certificates and some of them can be misleading. But these signal a brand or a company is doing the right thing.
Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS)
Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
Global Recycle Standard
Organic Content Standard
Oeko-Tex 100 and Bluesign (Chemical control standards)
Cradle to Cradle
EXAMPLE: 337 Brand
To start, our clothing is made from sustainable materials that consist of recycled, certified organic and natural fibers with a low environmental impact. We source from mills and distributors located in USA and Canada. Our products are produced ethically with local factories which enables us to have a lower carbon footprint, support American businesses and be hands-on every step of the way. It is important for us to only work with manufacturers that have ethical and sustainable practices. This includes no child labor, no forced labor, no harassment or abuse, fair living wage, legal working hours, nondiscrimination, health and safety, and environmental practices.
Sizing: I guessed true to size and (I also always go up if its cotton), but I'm wondering if I should have sized down.
Ethical sourcing is the process of ensuring the products being sourced are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way, that the workers involved in making them are safe and treated fairly and that environmental and social impacts are taken into consideration during the sourcing process. In the fashion industry, this involves both the farmers who grow organic cotton, for example, and brand executives responsible for the final product. According to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), ethical sourcing also means the procurement process respects international standards against criminal conduct and human rights abuses and responds to these issues immediately if identified. A few of these ethical standards are below:
Ethical Trading Initiative: focuses on high labor standards
Soil Association Organic Air Freight: Introduced new standards of organic transport
GlobalGAP: All-encompassing, involves agricultural, environmental, and worker welfare standards.
EXAMPLE: Paneros Clothing
One of our manufacturing partners in Indonesia is a company that has been around since 1988, has some of the latest in technology standards and provides a safe and responsible work environment for their employees.The factory has placed a significant emphasis both environmental sustainability as well as social responsibility, the type of things we care about deeply at Paneros. Among numerous other recognitions, the factories have earned the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Program certification dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane, and ethical manufacturing around the world, as well as a Business Social Compliance Initiative certification, a leading business-driven initiative for companies committed to improving working conditions in the global supply chain.
Sizing: Size down for this Olivia mini dress.
Its main goal is to provide support for sustainable business practices and empower communities to grow without damaging the environment. Fair-trade standards have a clear product classification and their geographic scope primarily targets disadvantaged areas. Fair-trade encompasses worker empowerment, health and safety, as well as fair work conditions. To obtain the Fair-trade Textile Standard, a brand or a company also needs to meet zero-impact requirements. There is a list of prohibited substances that mustn’t be used in any of the production stages.
EXAMPLE: Deux Mains
is a Haitian and women - owned factory that proudly makes profit to reinvest into the economy of Haiti by:
provid[ing] great jobs for Haitian craftsman and women, and [by] ha[ving] a steadfast commitment to creating well-made, authentic products using repurposed and locally sourced materials.
Sizing: I'm normally an 8 1/2 but ordered a 9 in these sandals.
When there is no animal testing involved, it means the product is cruelty-free. This usually applies to beauty and cosmetics goods, but can apply to fashion.
Each one of the carefully selected European mills we work with guarantees sustainable and ethical practices, including the welfare of animals and no mulesing for the sheep that produce merino wool. All their products are of the highest quality, certified and of traceable origin. Since the beginning we’ve been and remain committed to never use fur, leather, angora, horn, or any other animal byproducts.
Sizing: True to Size
When there are no animal products or ingredients used in the production, the end-product is considered vegan. It is very relevant for cosmetics, apparel, shoes, and accessories.
EXAMPLE: Elie Tahari
makes this gorgeous pair of vegan leather pants and they are so luxe! These pair so well with a black pair of heels and can easily go from a work day to a night out with the gal pals. They're super fun and professional enough for work (most of the time!) at the same time. P.S. this pair of vegan leather pants are 25% off right now!
Sizing: True to Size
The Soraline Sweater is perfect for spring and comes in the sweetest pastel colors. GST is great for basics and loungewear. The company relies on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and is eco-friendly, ethical fashion.
The Sara Top and Sara Leggings make for THE most adorable butterfly set. The company makes the cutest and comfiest looking loungewear and activewear sets. Lezat is also a sustainable, ethical fashion brand.
These scarfs are 100% silk - thus biodegradable and good for Mother Earth. The Fuchsia Petite scarf is my favorite - being perfect for both purses and neckerchiefs.
Bags + Accessories
This Eva Clutch faux-snake skin clutch is made with vegan leather PU fabric from Italy and is lined with black recycled polyester made with plastic bottles combined with organic cotton. How chic is it?!?
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but - don't worry! All opinions are my own. :)