Many brands are now bending towards terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ to lend themselves an eco-friendly image. However, as more and more brands use the term, the line between what is sustainable and what is simply a publicity act has blurred. Even worse, saturated. The question here is: what does it take for a brand to truly call itself sustainable?
Being a sustainable label at heart transcends way beyond adapting one practice that can be safely deemed as ethical. When viewed from a fashion lens, the terms encompass all three—economical, environmental and social aspects. While one can employ local artisans and others can rely on organic cotton, both are sustainable, to begin with. However, for a brand to be truly sustainable, the making of the garment to its end life needs to be considered in detail. Both the brand and its patrons need to look out for pointers like whether the fabric is sustainable or made from recycled content, the water usage and carbon emissions, whether the product can be recycled at the end, and more.
According to a report published by Forbes, there are three pillars that both emerging and well-established labels can begin their sustainable journey with: constantly developing sustainable products and services, creating positions like Chief Sustainability Officer and publishing sustainability reports. We can acknowledge the harm done to the oceans and read reports about the repercussions of plastic, but there will no change until we connect with the emotional core of the concept.
Today, millennials capture a significant percentage of the market with their purchasing power. Their risk-averse nature towards spending is a catalyst for brands to sell themselves as sustainable. And the rise in such labels comes as no surprise. When pitted against the previous generations, millennials seek companies that preach pro-social messages, follow sustainable manufacturing processes and lay down ethical business standards.
With such a stark rise in sustainable brands, there’s a need to absorb the basic crux of the matter. And that is: being sustainable goes way beyond just caring for the planet. When there is an amalgamation of economic, environmental and social aspects in the ethos, a brand has pioneered sustainability at its core. If this can be achieved before marketing with the glorified label, not only the market defeat saturation, but the term ‘sustainable’ will actually make sense as a whole.
Photographs: Instagram (@thesustainablefashionforum), Unsplash