The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of the world. It affects our environment in very different ways, so its actual impact on our planet is very hard to calculate. The pesticides used for the crops, the enormous amounts of dye that pollute our water systems, the carbon dioxide emissions from transport, the microfibers that end up in the ocean everytime we wash our clothes made out of synthetic fabrics, are just a few of the many ways the industry harms our ecosystem.
People are becoming aware of these problems, so well hidden by an industry that has changed the way we consume clothing. The last decade has seen the rise of a new generation of designers, artisans, manufacturers and brands that are willing to change things at their level, hoping to have a positive impact. Everyone is tackling the problem with the resources they have available and there is a certain beauty in it, because there’s no perfect answer.
On February 12th, I had the luck of participating at a Youth.We.Can event about sustainable fashion in Paris. Three different brands presented their project and how they are trying to be a part of the solution. The most interesting thing was that each one saw the same problem differently and each one had a different approach as to how to solve it.
For one brand, the main issue was the quality of the clothes we buy. If we buy low quality clothes, then we are forced to keep on buying more and more stuff. So, for them, the best way to reduce the impacts of the fast fashion industry on our environment was to produce better quality clothes, which would last longer and this would inevitably reduce the amounts of clothes produced.
The second one identified another problem, most people wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses once or twice for fear of repeating the same outfit. So they created a platform where you can rent clothes for a few days at an affordable price. By doing this they help people to not buy an outfit that would have been worn just a few times and they give many lives to the same outfit that multiple people can wear.
The last brand had yet another approach, they’re trying to tackle two problems at once. They are producing local to reduce the transport of each garment and with natural, locally grown fibers. By reducing the distance between where the materials are grown and the factories, they are reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport and by using natural fibers instead of synthetic ones, they are moving away from the plastic industry. For a long time synthetic fibers have replaced natural ones, because they are cheaper and easier to produce but they have left a trail of microfibers behind them.
I believe that the most valuable lesson that night taught me, is not the techniques each one used but the fact that they are all different. There’s no miracle solution, the problem is so big and has so many layers, that it is almost impossible to find an answer that solves everything. However, if brands all over the world start answering the problem in the best way they can, little by little the fashion industry will change. This is our mission, what onfootprint is doing is regrouping different initiatives and putting the spotlight on them. In sustainable terms, we can find faults in each practice. To move forward, we need to focus on the positive things and applaud the efforts so many are making every day.
At onfootprint, we present a selection of articles that are all sustainable for different reasons, some are made from natural fibers, others from organic fibers, others from recycled or upcycled ones. We believe that every initiative, towards a more sustainable fashion industry, needs to be put forward. The fast fashion industry problem is huge and there are many different solutions to face it. We don’t all have the same vision about the problem and we don’t all prioritize the same things. This is why at onfootprint we are completely transparent and you are free to choose the articles you identify with the most, not only in style but also on how and what they are made of. The beauty of sustainable fashion is that it exists in many forms and it can easily be adopted by everyone who shops at onfootprint.com.