When one thinks about fashion, words like glamour, style, trend, etc. immediately strike the mind rather than words like sustainable, eco-friendly or ethical. However, in the coming ten to fifty years the most important question the fashion industry needs to ask is how sustainable it is? Ethical and sustainable fashion has been gathering momentum globally in the past decade.
Ethical and sustainable fashion is an approach towards sourcing, manufacturing and designing clothes which maximizes the benefits to the industry and society at large, at the same time minimizes the impacts on the environment. Ethical means something that is morally right and acceptable. Therefore, ethical and sustainable fashion does not start from manufacturing clothes. It starts from the cotton fields and ends in consumer's wardrobe. Therefore, conventional cotton farming cannot be termed as ethical and sustainable as harmful pesticides are used.
Today, sustainability is a way of doing business rather than just a concept. Brands like Stella McCartney and NOIR are the pioneers of ethical and sustainable fashion. Now many companies have embraced the concept of sustainability and have implemented it in the business. These companies have understood that integrating social and environmental issues with business will yield long term benefits to the company.
Nowadays, fashion exhibitions, Ethical fashion forum and blogs all focus on the concept of sustainable fashion. Going green is also about business and profits. It is important that brands which practice ethical and sustainable fashion must stay true to their commitment. This way they can win the trust of the consumers and uphold the company's ethical values.
There should be transparency in sourcing, manufacturing, designing and other processes, so that the consumers can know whether the brands are delivering what they have promised. To make sustainability saleable in fashion industry it must have desirability. Consumers are attracted to good designs, colors and fabrics. When a consumer spends on fashionable apparels, he first considers the above mentioned aspects. Environmental or ethical concerns come later.
The brands which respond to the consumers unending demands can combine sustainable principles with fashion and flourish in this green business. The time has come when the relationship of consumer and clothing has to be changed. Sustainability is not limited to environment but the entire fashion business, from production to the retail stores.
When the fashion industry ensures fair wages, no forced or child labor, workers get their basic human rights, health and safety measures are followed in the workplace, biodiversity, organic cultivation, clothes are manufactured in eco-friendly ways, etc. all these steps will make the fashion industry ethical and sustainable in true sense.