Why is sustainable fashion becoming synonymous with luxury?
Term sustainability, as well as sustainable fashion, can be heard almost everywhere nowadays. Almost everyone knows about pollution, overproduction, overconsumption and other factors that are threatening our ecological future. Every day we learn different options on how to live consciously and decrease a negative impact on environment. Some of this options are not very clear. For example why did luxury suddenly become eco friendly?
We got used to the idea that luxury is usually associated with excess, unavailability and whim and on the other hand sustainability deals with ethical and conscious consumption. Right now the sustainability topic is especially relevant in fashion for several reasons. Firstly, the fashion industry is the second, after the oil industry, in terms of environmental pollution. Secondly, according to the statistics, Americans throw out about 14 million tons of clothing each year, which is roughly 80lb per person.Numbers had dramatically increased over the last 30 years due to the fact that much more of affordable clothing became available. According to some reports, we buy 400% more clothes than a quarter of a century ago. Life-cycle of a garment is reduced to less than a season, leading us to buy more of cheaper clothes each year. Social networks and other streaming tools had a huge influence on fashion. The freedom of speech and expression, the spirit of rebellion and the availability of the latest innovations have stimulated us to purchase more and more.
In response to the negative impact, the Fashion Revolution movement was born. It is based on three core stones of sustainable fashion: way of production, materials and way of thinking. Sustainable fashion concentrates on conscious consumption, suggesting to use clothing swap, second hand and slow fashion. Also, sustainability has to deal with everything that makes the customer ask “Where has this garment been produced?” According to McKinsey, “sustainability is becoming an important factor in consumers purchasing decisions. For example, in emerging markets, more than 65% of consumers are actively looking for sustainable fashion”. If eco-friendly fashion, used to be a local phenomenon, the updated policies of Gucci, Stella McCartney, H&M and other companies show that now conscious fashion is a serious long-term tendency. By the way, it is one of the core values of luxury to provide absolute quality of products.
Some luxury brands have begun to look towards eco-problems making sustainability it’s top priority. Rebuilding a business model for companies, especially large ones, is a complex and long process. At the same time, only industry leaders have the means to invest in these development projects. A few years ago, the industry was not ready for manufacturers and retailers to use only recycled or organic materials. There were no suppliers, processes were not debugged, and it was expensive.
Today many cases show that the luxury industry moves forward to sustainable development. It is safe to say that luxury has always been sustainable, but has never positioned itself as such. The idea of new luxury is to produce stunning and stylish products of the fashion industry, cutting the effect on the ecological system to the minimum. At the same time, the production chain must be transparent and opened to the consumer, and the material used must be recycled. There is a clear tendency of the return to natural sources, awareness of nature values and the desire to preserve them. The sustainability path promises to be not fast, but interesting and eventful, requiring perseverance and patience.