So, I've had some thoughts lately on sustainability in fashion. I felt the need to take a breather from F&H’s social media for this reason, because Flora & Honey doesn’t exist for content’s sake. Flora & Honey exists to serve people like you. And if I’ve been shook by something so much that it affects the content and makes it less purposeful, I’m not gonna waste your time. That’s just the bare-bones, honest-to-god truth. So! Curious about my thoughts? Here’s why I’ve taken a hiatus from the blog and social media. I think the term “sustainable fashion” is bullshit. Here’s why:
The “sustainable fashion” industry is growing.
I will say that, yes, using recycled fibers vs. new is a good thing. But are all these new brands popping up really necessary? No matter how you frame it, it is wasteful to buy from sustainable fashion brands unless you need—and I really mean NEED—what you’re buying. I’m guilty of this. You’re guilty of this. We’re all guilty of this. Furthermore, because brands are switching over to “sustainable” methods but not changing the pace at which they are producing, it is equally or more damaging because now conscious consumers will be subtly encouraged to believe that it is acceptable to shop in excess.
Greenwashing is taking over the “sustainable fashion” industry.
Fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara throw around the word “green” and “organic” like they’re a Saturday morning produce market. They take these phrases meant for good, throw it on their tags, and endanger the movement in doing so. We’ve known about this, but it still stands as a threat to sustainability in fashion. Why? Because they’re determining the tone for brands who actually practice sustainability and their influence hasn’t proven beneficial.
A conversation was started on Instagram after Everlane dropped their “Truth.” collaboration with NYT. I have not been able to get this out of my head, guys. If you want to hear what a lot of people are saying, you can see the OG post here, but the TLDR version is this: Everlane is profiting off of a green washed product that’s lifecycle will end in a landfill. It isn’t sustainable, it negates the purpose of sustainability in fashion, and has me questioning the brand in entirety. Which brought me to my very next thought and the purpose of this blog . . .
There is no such thing as “sustainable fashion”.
Oh, the drama! No, but seriously. We can slap the word “sustainable” onto something, but that doesn’t mean its entire existence is sustainable. The clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world (right after oil.) America alone exports more than ONE BILLION POUNDS of second-hand clothing every year.
If we are buying anything—even from “sustainable” brands—we’re buying into the overarching issue: consumerism and waste. So much waste! The only way to really shop sustainably is second-hand, but there are holes in that argument as well (a blog for another time.) All of that to say, “sustainable fashion” is, and I cannot stress this enough, a fraud. It is bullshit, à la carte.
The reality of where we’re really at, in terms of sustainable fashion, is this: there are methods of sustainability being woven throughout the fabric of the fashion industry, but it does not alter its true identity. If we think that buying mass-quantities of clothing every year from a “sustainable” brand is somehow sustainable, we’ve missed the point. There is sustainability, there is fashion, and there is some sustainability in fashion, but there is not sustainable fashion. The industry just isn’t there yet. At least, not in a way that we can truly, honestly, in good faith, label it that way.
And that’s the tea!
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are immense changes happening in the fashion industry. Sustainability is making huge waves. There are incredible people changing the entire conversation around fashion, so much so that I believe our very perception of clothing will be different within the next 20 years. (A few of my favorite voices in fashion are Céline Semaan, Sarah Jane Spellings, and Whitney Bauck.)
But sustainability isn’t just up to the few brands who practice sustainability, or a few loud voices. And it certainly isn’t up to large fast-fashion conglomerates (H&M, Zara, F21) who throw a “green” line on their floors. Sustainability comes by recognizing that there’s almost no way to create “zero-waste” yourself, but to do your best.
By minimizing (or eliminating) the areas of your life that have become excessively wasteful, by being content with less (recently wrote a blog on this), and by choosing each piece in your wardrobe to keep and wear for years and years to come, you can make sustainable fashion a reality.
Bottom line, and to turn a bummer blog into an empowering one, even if a brand isn’t practicing sustainable standards, you sure as hell can. So go get em, sis.