Fashion is a booming industry and its transition from the catwalk to the store – also called “fast fashion” is becoming faster than ever, but its having a negative side effect of impacting the environment.
According to Fashionunited, an independent industry network and statistical platform, the fashion industry is now one of the biggest industries in the world worth some $3 trillion and growing. It’s also responsible for contributing a whopping two per cent to global GDP.
Fashion industry cleaning up its act
The industry is trying to clean itself up and that might be because of consumers who are now starting to demand more from the industry.
Annie Zhu is a Toronto resident with her own lifestyle blog called Terumah. She’s noticed a trend in that more and more of her readers want to know about sustainable fashion options.
“I find that the posts on ethical fashion are consistently the most popular because I do think that people are interested and are becoming more and more interested. Especially in the last year or so and they’re really looking for this information,” said Zhu.
Retailers are now starting to shift their operations to more environmentally friendly, ethical models.
That’s also meant the market has opened up to make room for new retailers with a different philosophy.
Frank and Oak is a prime example. The Canadian-born retailer offers customers all over the world more sustainable and ethical fashion. They’ve built the brand on a philosophy they call ‘good living.’
“From my perspective, when people buy things they’re also voting,” said Ethan Song the Co-founder and CEO of Frank and Oak. “So, it was very important for us to make sure that the values that the brand embodies, whether it’s respecting the environment or promoting inclusion were part of the product that we create and part of the experience.”
The company also recognizes the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment and works hard to ensure they are limiting the footprint on the environment and working with ethical manufacturers.
“We work with international organizations to create new standards for our manufacturers but, obviously, you know, we make choices in our own supply chain to work with the right manufacturers and encourage the right behaviours,” said Song.
Now some of the biggest fast fashion brands are starting to change their approach too.
“There are now a number of retailers that are beginning to look at this as being an issue that is their responsibility, beginning to change the way in which they are sourcing clothing,” said Santill. “And, actually, there are companies that are going much more progressively to make sure their producers, their manufacturers do not use a whole series of harmful chemicals in their production processes so that they can sell confidently to their consumers.”
As more and more consumers demand their clothing be both ethically sourced and sustainably made, the fashion industry is starting to change for the better.