The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, because the supply chain involves a series of unethical practices, from obtaining raw materials, manufacturing the textiles, garment production/construction, shipping and retail, to use and disposal. Apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63%, further expanding the true cost at which fashion comes, where 80 billion new pieces of clothing are produced each year, 400% more than what was consumed two decades ago. One pair of jeans produces 25kg of carbon dioxide and utilises 7k litres of water. 60 billion square metres of cut-off material is discarded on factory floors every year. A high-consumption, low-value model means that 3 in 4 garments out of the 80 billion produced each year, end up in a landfill (Thiruchelvam, 2017). Watch The True Cost documentary to learn more.
Sustainability is defined as the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”, and sustainable development is one where “the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable fashion is better for the people, better for the planet and needs to operate on a “slow” model rather than the traditional fast-fashion model. Globally, brands are working on the awareness of sustainable fashion and understanding the need of becoming more environmentally conscious. The rise in technological advancements and innovation has led to newer, more eco-friendly alternatives to textiles including recycled plastic, pineapple or bio-fabricated leather, orange silk & many more.
In Pakistan, lawn is a mainstream fashion textile and one of the faces of fast fashion currently. The production of several seasonal collections is destructive to the environment. Brands producing Pret garments in economical price ranges has led to a change in consumer behaviour, where most purchases are done at a discount, encouraging the consumption of trend-oriented fast-fashion. The key to living a sustainable lifestyle is to “buy less, choose well and make it last” as said by Vivienne Westwood. The responsibility also lies on the producers, designers to follow a circular fashion system of sustainable fashion which will create options and awareness for the consumer, as we all have the power to make a conscious choice which will help in making this planet a better place to live in for ourselves and future generations.