Updated: Apr 19, 2019
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion, ethical production, conscious consumption — I’m sure these are terms you’ve been seeing and hearing a lot lately. They’re the buzz words around town, everyone wants to be a part of the “conscious trend”, and every fast fashion brand wants to put a “green” tag on their clothes to win their consumers’ hearts.
For those of you who aren’t aware, let us catch you up to speed.
Simply said, sustainable fashion lies under the umbrella of mindfulness and conscious consumption. It is linked to a range of global concerns within the fashion industry, including ethical methods of production, labor rights, fair trade, the environment, animal welfare, and humane working conditions.
The disaster that shook the world.
Why have consumers worldwide suddenly shifted their critical lens towards the fashion industry? On the 24th of April in 2013, the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh stumped the world and made everyone question what truly goes on behind closed factory doors, the hidden labor behind world-renowned fashion brands. The disaster killed at least 1,132 workers and injured more than 2,500 (1).
The Rana Plaza building, along with many other buildings across developing nations house outsourced labor for many fast fashion brands. Workers are paid below the minimum wage and are forced to work under inhumane conditions, including enduring extremely long working hours, receiving no health benefits nor any other form of basic labor protection, and signing up to be potential victims to inadequate or non-existent safety installations in the factory buildings. These are the conditions under which many of the clothes we don on our bodies were made and these are the conditions that have led to many deaths and injuries.
Fashion and planet earth
Labor conditions is not the only reason people are pointing fingers at the industry. The fashion industry is also one of the biggest polluters of our planet. It takes almost 3,000 litres of water to produce just one cotton t-shirt (2). To put this into perspective, that’s enough water for one person to stay hydrated for 1 and ½ years. Other atrocities include the use of animal fur, toxic colour dyes that pollute clean water, and contributing up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions from the intensive production and supply chain (3). We say it’s about time we start taking fashion more seriously than just to look good.
The wagon that welcomes you aboard
More and more companies are raising their voice against the malpractices of fast fashion brands, namely H&M, Forever 21, Zara, JC Penny, to name a few. Consumers worldwide are calling for effective implementation of labor rights, safety precautions in factory buildings, humane working conditions, and to be extra critical of wastage from the supply chain to stores.
Many emerging local businesses are loud and proud proponents of sustainable, if not recycled, textiles, timeless designs, ethical labor, proper methods of garment washing to ensure long-term use, and a more sustainable business model. More and more consumers are choosing quality over quantity, ageless over a 2-week trend, and long-term over wear and tear.
The threat to our people and our planet is real and we, as consumers, should try our best to embody positive change. MONOKEROM is proud to be a part of this movement. Slowly but surely, our aim is to forsake the excessive and disposable view of clothing that exists in our world today. We view clothes to be an integral part of our identity and we take self-expression, as well as our planet, very seriously. We enjoy creating the classics of tomorrow — universal, timeless, yet mindful of the future.
Sustainable and ethical fashion aren’t the only solutions to fix climate change, but it sure is a movement that many of us can get behind. It’s not about guilt-tripping consumers and it’s certainly not about shaming anyone to whom fast fashion is made more accessible. It’s a matter of choosing to be a mindful and influential consumer. A consumer who positively impacts the planet and embodies sustainability as a lifestyle, not a forced move.