In the last few years, sustainability has been a pressing issue for many industries in determining how to incorporate it as a part of their production plan.
Many fashion manufacturers in particular have been scratching their heads, speculating on the best methods to use to go green without reducing the amount of production.
In the globalized economy, fast fashion retailers, such as H&M and Forever 21, are playing with various methods to show consumers that sustainability will become integral to the future of fashion.
Carefully selecting the sources and materials that these retail giants use is only a miniscule factor in efficient production. Realistically, it is difficult to produce clothing out of recyclable textiles because only a few companies are collecting them.
Additionally, the process of converting fibers into textiles is heavily chemically induced with pesticides and insecticides. Additionally, the process uses tons of water to grow fibers to make the mass production of apparel possible.
Also, with the global push for sustainability, the fashion industry has to balance their objective of being concurrent with trends, while meeting sales goals and maintaining resources.
H&M created a program using the “old is new” concept to encourage consumers to recycle their clothing in order to reduce the amount of natural resources used in creating new apparel every season.
According to the Guardian, customers are encouraged to bring in their used or never worn clothing and are offered an incentive of 15 percent off of every 30-dollar purchase.
Although this program only started in participating European stores, project manager Cecilia Brannsten is pushing to make it a globalized effort throughout all chains. She also acknowledged that there are still several flaws in her plan because the uptake of recycled textiles is rare.
Besides reusing resources and converting textiles back into fibers, the fashion industry has seen cellulosic cotton (non-chemically processed cotton) and other natural fibers prove themselves as the way to go.
But, without the prevention of pesticides and insecticides to protect crops, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain mass production of apparel for huge corporations such as H&M.
In the past, consumers have been hesitantly cooperative with the initiative, seeing how designers have failed at making sustainable fashion desirable to wear.
Luckily, sustainability has not been problematic for every designer.
Stella McCartney is well known for her success in the fashion industry and her involvement in environmentalism. The company’s mission statement clearly shows the effort in sponsoring affluent environmental organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Her website states that the company does not use any leather or fur in production of their garments or accessories. The mission statement also provides the percentages of organic cotton used in production of each clothing line in combination with recycling efforts.
However, on a larger scale, huge retailers still would have to rethink their production methods to include sustainability. As for now, each season has increasingly shown designers incorporating reusable resources in their lines, or upcoming designers with an entire green initiative.
Sustainability has considerable influence in the value of a company’s mission and as it is seemingly challenging.
The fashion industry is slowly but surely reaching a greener future.