Conscious fashion is also popularly known as sustainable fashion, eco-friendly fashion or ethical fashion. Conscious fashion is a movement that is revolutionising the fashion industry and the rhythms fast fashion in particular have set in the past three decades by exploring and constantly improving the entire process and supply chain through which the fashion industry functions. It aims to create changes within the demand and supply side of the fashion industry in order to ensure that conscious fashion becomes the norm or benchmark of the industry.
There are multiple aspects of conscious fashion to explore, read on to find out more.
Before deep-diving into conscious fashion, it is important to understand how it came about and why it is necessary for the fashion industry. The fashion industry is a global industry worth billions of dollars where various brands produce, market and sell clothing. Before the birth of the fashion industry, clothing was handmade by tailors and dressmakers and customised based on the preferences and measurements of individuals.
Technological developments such as the introduction of the sewing machine and the expansion of a factory-based manufacturing system eventually lead to mass-production of clothing and apparels. Traditionally, the industry was split into two main categories: high fashion where companies produced exquisite garments with a design-focused; and mass fashion where companies produced practical apparel with a focus on comfort and cost-cutting approach.
However, over the years the lines between these two categories have blurred and there is no clear distinction between them anymore. Various traditionally high fashion brands can be found producing a practical or minimalistic collection and contrastingly many brands that mass-produce clothing can be seen releasing designer or high street collections. Therefore, in recent times, the fashion industry includes designing, producing, distributing, marketing and advertising, retailing, and promotion of apparels of all types and categories.
In the last decade, we have seen the rise of a concept known as fast fashion. The core strategy of fast fashion brands is take inspiration from the trends seen in social media and looks showcased at the seasonal runway events of Fashion Week and mass produce these looks for their own collection. These collections are often cycled through very quickly and some are even on shelves for just over a month. The apparels in these collections are often produced inexpensively from low-quality materials as their only purpose is to be worn for that particular trend or season.
The fashion industry has very strong environmental, ethical and social impacts that have eventually lead to the development of conscious fashion. The environmental impact of fast fashion begins with an unreasonable amount of waste generated through production processes. This waste contributes to the high amounts of pollution, leading to emissions and a large carbon footprint.
Large amounts of waste is also generated when fast fashion clothing is worn for short periods of time and disposed off in time for the next season or trend. These negative impact of fast fashion industry lead to the acceleration of global warming and climate change. In the ethical and social aspects, issues include as workers safety, unsafe working conditions, child labour, unfair wages and animal cruelty. Additionally, there is an overall lack of transparency among the fast fashion industry that creates a barrier for consumers who wish to find out more about fashion brands.
The purpose of conscious fashion is to change the fashion industry through evaluating and constantly upgrading the various processes involved in order to reduce the negative impacts discussed above. It aims to set a new benchmark or create a new normal for fashion brands to become sustainable and eco-friendly. Conscious fashion brands attempt to reduce the environmental, ethical and social impacts of the fashion industry through developing solutions to address negative aspects and issues. They often participate in research and development to combine technology and innovation for upgrading processes within the industry.
Sustainable fashion brands provide more transparency and share information about various aspects of their processes including sourcing of materials, production location and processes and also how they are upgrading moving forward. Various conscious fashion brands have tackled issues such as high wastage and consumerism through reduction of the amount of times a new collection is launched per year. Through growing their own brands, conscious fashion brands actually grow a strong market and customer base for this new sustainable idea of fashion which will lead to this becoming the new normal in the future.
Steele, V., & Major, J. S. (2019, June 6). Fashion industry. Retrieved June 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/art/fashion-industry