As consumers increasingly reject “fast fashion”, favor quality over quantity and make eco-friendly purchases, the fashion industry is trying to act more responsibly for the sake of planet and future generations. Every brand talks about “sustainability” and many are making significant changes. And for international fashion showcases like Oslo Runway, sustainability is top of mind. CEO Elin Carlsen said, “As a national display platform, we are committed to contributing and shaping new mindsets and practices for a more sustainable industry.
Sustainable fashion brands use materials from natural or recycled fabrics that require less or even no chemical treatment, less water and energy. And linen, hemp, organic cotton and tencel (from wood) are biodegradable. But sustainability isn’t just about materials. It is about changing the ways of thinking and practices of fashion design, production, communication, wearing and appreciation. Here are some of the smart fashion brands embracing sustainability with actions, not just words.
Using recycled materials (think plastic from the oceans) continues to be a hot trend and good news for the environment, as clothing has the fourth highest environmental impact (after housing, transportation and food), according to the British non-profit organization WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Plan). More than 300,000 tonnes of clothing end up in UK landfills every year.
Fitflop’s shiny new sneaker, The Vitamin, sleek and super lightweight, isn’t just biomechanically designed for exercise and walking, it’s made from recycled polyester yarn from plastic waste and reclaimed reprocessed foam from factory waste.
Designed and manufactured in Italy, they will soon be launched. Balena slides are the first in the world to be made entirely of BioCir™, a unique material developed to enable the creation of fully compostable and biodegradable fashion items. BioCir™ products reach their end of life responsibly, including complete decomposition and biodegradation of the material to the soil safely. And they smell good too because the natural coloring in the blades is cinnamon.
Faldan, a brand of luxury eco-friendly handbags was founded by former UN climate negotiator Laura Hanning. The signature bag is the world’s first fully collapsible ethical luxury bag. Clever geometric markings in the fabric create a unique pattern and, most importantly, allow the bag to fold seamlessly into an iPhone-sized wallet. The brand only uses leather which is a by-product of the meat industry, thus having a smaller environmental footprint than newly manufactured materials. And they just launched a vegan, recycled nylon bag.
New handbag company Naru Studios creates luxury products from renewable, recycled and biodegradable materials. Designed in Oxford, the bags are handcrafted by leather artisans in London.
LuederStudio, a brand featured at London Fashion Week this month, uses recycled ocean plastic in a colorful range of unisex nylon jackets, each with plenty of handy pockets.
Sportswear brand ArmedAngels offers clothing made from 100% recycled polyamide and 58% recycled elastane. It also offers elegant and comfortable wooden (tencel) shirts.
2. Sustainable luxury jewelry
Well aware that real diamonds, gold and other precious materials used in jewelry can be mined with slave and child labor, online retailer Friendly Diamonds claims to deliver the same quality with its lab-grown diamonds as natural diamonds – at a fraction of the cost (up to 75% less) and without endangering human life. The company’s goal is to inspire a more transparent and eco-friendly jewelry industry. In an industry notorious for irresponsible mining practices, Friendly Diamonds’ vision is to minimize its impact on the environment and its ecosystems with diamonds made in laboratories powered by renewable energy. They work closely with major diamond producers in countries like the United States, Belgium and India, enabling them to offer some of the most competitive prices in the industry. Once purchased, the brand processes the diamonds to make jewelry at its in-house manufacturing center in Manhattan, New York. This is where each diamond, setting and the final piece goes through three rounds of quality checks.
Although lab-grown diamonds are growing in popularity and are considered a viable choice when purchasing a diamond engagement ring, they are sometimes met with skepticism. A professionally grown diamond in a lab may not be considered “romantic” or high quality. Consumers have long embraced the idea of a natural diamond as being the best. However, scientists can create diamonds that optically resemble earth-mined diamonds, contain the same chemical and physical attributes, and even receive certification by the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute. Lab grown diamonds are just as real as natural earth mined diamonds with the same shapes, sizes, colors and clarity grades. More importantly, lab and natural diamonds are visually identical with the same level of hardness and durability. The US Federal Trade Commission has recognized lab-grown diamonds as real since 2018.
3: Rental or Used
With the massive amount of wearables thrown away each year, it’s encouraging to see the growing popularity of online rental platforms like Rent the Runway, Hurr Collective and MyWardrobeHQ. And for consumers concerned about wearing eco-responsible fashion, a new subscription service has just been launched. The Devout is a sustainable fashion rental platform that offers everyday and special occasion clothing from £39 per month. You can rent three items a month for under £40 or try their ten item deluxe package for £99 a month.
Buying second-hand clothes isn’t a new idea, but as a fashion trend, its skyrocketing popularity is staggering. According to US online thrift store Thredup, the second-hand clothing market is expected to grow 127% by 2026, three times faster than the global clothing market as a whole.
Sign of the Times combines 45 years of experience in buying and selling second-hand luxury goods through Sign of the Times in London and Timpanys in Berkshire. They are experts in authenticating and evaluating designer products and have been selling online internationally since 2015. The online store lists the original price of each item so you can see how much you have saved by buying used. They also point out that compared to a new purchase, a second-hand purchase would save an average of 1 kg of waste, 3,040 liters of water (equivalent to taking 60 baths) and 22 kg of CO2. A gorgeous blue sleeveless halter jumpsuit from Roksanda is priced at £230.00 with an estimated value of £1390. A pair of black Kenzo trainers with an embroidered yellow tiger cost £76 instead of £180 new.