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As fashion month takes center stage with the release of Vogue’s September issue and New York Fashion Week, the industry finds itself at a crossroads between fast fashion and sustainability. While some brands, such as Patagonia, are wholeheartedly embracing climate change activism, others like fast-fashion giant Boohoo are cautiously stepping into the world of sustainability, often with the help of celebrity endorsements. This shift towards sustainability in fashion is evident on both ends of the spectrum, from established luxury brands reinventing their classic pieces to emerging labels utilizing high-fashion leftovers. Here, we explore how fashion is evolving towards sustainability.
Legacy Brands Embrace Sustainability:
Fashion’s relentless push for innovative collections each season can lead to excessive waste. In response, some fashion houses are revisiting their archives and bringing back iconic pieces. Brands like Fendi and Kate Spade are reintroducing past handbag collections with a sustainable twist. Kate Spade’s recent New York Fashion Week presentation featured the re-release of the 1993 Sam bag, upgraded with sustainable materials. The move towards revisiting classic designs and making them relevant for 2022 reflects an important shift towards sustainability in the fashion industry.
Sustainable Fashion Brand ‘Able’ Sets an Example:
Sustainable fashion brand Able emphasizes the importance of making thoughtful choices to become more sustainable. CEO Barrett Ward highlights that sustainability is a journey that involves making one sustainable choice at a time. The brand not only offers sustainable products but also ensures fair wages for garment workers, contributing to the slow fashion movement. This commitment to paying a livable wage may result in higher clothing prices but aligns with the brand’s mission to promote ethical practices.
Emerging brands like Vavvoune are redefining luxury by utilizing high-end fashion’s leftovers, known as deadstock. Vavvoune’s founder, Valerie Blaise, creates luxury handbags and leather goods from unused materials discarded by luxury brands like Gucci and Jil Sander. By repurposing these materials, Blaise introduces a new tier of luxury that combines sustainability with exclusivity.
Leather as Sustainable Material:
Blaise challenges the perception that leather cannot be sustainable, emphasizing that leather is a byproduct of the meat industry. She argues that not using leather would result in massive waste of animal skins. While some alternative materials are plant-based, Blaise is concerned about the environmental impact of synthetic vegan leather made from plastic.
The Role of the Consumer:
Fashion’s journey toward sustainability requires a thoughtful and progressive approach. Blaise believes that consumers also play a crucial role in driving change by making informed choices. Sustainability is not about perfection but about making sustainable choices that align with individual values.
Fashion is undergoing a significant transformation towards sustainability, with brands embracing various approaches to reduce waste and promote ethical practices. From legacy brands reinventing classics to emerging labels using high-fashion leftovers, the industry is redefining luxury and sustainability. As consumers become more conscious of their choices, they have the power to accelerate this evolution toward a more sustainable fashion future. Ultimately, fashion’s journey toward sustainability is a collective effort involving brands, designers, and consumers alike.