Needless to say, the fashion industry is the second leading sector in the world that’s contributing pollution. Increasing demand for clothes means greater consumption of water, use of pesticides, chemicals, and petroleum in the production of textiles, all of which puts a strain on the environment. Exacerbating the problem, our growing appetite for new clothes means a continuation to produce, consume and waste, resulting in environmental degradations seen in the coastal and marine systems. An alarming 80% of the degradation to these places is due to plastic waste and wastewater pollution.
If you have seen the much-talked about documentary, Seaspiracy, you would have known that the visible plastic junks floating in the ocean only represents a small fraction of the actual problem. The spotlight should be placed on microfibres (another form of microplastics), tiny threads that are shed by clothes during manufacturing and when they are washed. Studies have shown that one machine load of washing can release more than 700,000 of these fibres. These microfibres are not biodegradable and can act as sponges that harmful chemical pollutant, including carcinogenic dyes, can attach to.
Upon entering the water system, these microfibres enter the food chain and slowly accumulate until it reaches humans as we consumer seafood. Acknowledging the detrimental effects, there is now a clarion call for fashion brands to be more responsible for their production.
“Sustainability is not an option; it is a necessity. And it demands definitive action from the fashion industry and beyond” — Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs at Kering Group
Our oceans are the lungs of the Earth, capable of producing more than half the world’s oxygen as well as regulating our weather. Not to mention, these vast water bodies are also the source of food for many of us, therefore, it is paramount that we change the way we do our purchases; make more informed choices and opt for companies that are advocates for sustainable practices.
In scouring the internet, we have shortlisted 5 brands that sit right at the top for shifting perceptions of the polluting nature of the fashion industry.
Re-nylon is Prada’s new sustainable line that makes bags and accessories from recycled plastics collected from oceans and fishing nets.
Stella McCartney built a successful fashion empire based on ethical practices, ensuring that minimum impact is made on the environment through its continuous push for a circular economy. In 2014, the brand has partnered with H&M and Ginetex to launch Clevercare, an initiative that helps to educating consumers of the environmental impact of washing and caring for clothing.
Burberry announced that it will stop using unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025 where all its packages will be reusable, recyclable or compostable. Ever since Riccardo Tisci has taken the helm as the creative director of the luxury brand, he has made sustainability a priority to focus on. In 2020, it has announced that it will partner with fibre manufacturer Aquafil to launch a collection of heritage items and “new icons” using “the sustainable nylon yarn made from regenerated fishing nets, fabric scraps and industrial plastic”.
By increasing sustainable materials and sourcing new eco-friendly productions, Gucci aimed to decrease its environmental footprint by 40% and greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. For its pre-fall 2020/21 collection, it will debut Gucci Off The Grid under the Gucci Circular Lines. The collection features ready-to-wear and other accessories made with 100% regenerated polyamide created from Econyl.
The iconic crescent moon motif is seen on A-listers such as Beyonce, Kendall Jenner and Cardi B, but Marine Serre is more than just a favourite amongst celebrities and models, the winner of the 2017 LVMH Prize has made it a point of incorporating sustainability from the off-set. Using deadstock creatively to create new designs for each season, this brand represents a new generation of designers who have made sustainability a core part of their business.