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Fashion Industry Struts Toward Sustainable Style

March 27, 2018

Forget astrology — our prediction is that 2018 will be the year of sustainable fashion.

Last week, WSJ explored the fashion industry’s shift towards sustainability through the lens of a role that’s quickly becoming ubiquitous at brands looking to improve their production practices: Sustainability Director.

Fashion industry expert Vanessa Friedman’s weekly New York Times Open Thread newsletter answered its second sustainability question in 6 months, a strong indicator of industry-wide strides in the right direction, and the consumer desires fueling them.

Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, for Haaretz

The first came last September, when Vanessa Friedman was asked for her opinion on the fashion industry’s outspoken stance on various social issues, but relative silence when it comes to matters of the environment.

Her response? “No one in fashion…disputes the idea that the industry could be more responsible. Both Kering and LVMH, the two biggest conglomerates, have been taking major steps to address the issue, going public about reducing carbon emissions, developing new leather treatment techniques, even changing the concrete they use in their stores. Stella McCartney just hooked up with a company that creates entirely compostable packaging.”

Louis Vuitton’s warehouse near Paris pioneered LVMH’s commitment to conscious construction

She goes on to note that this past fall also saw Milan’s first Green Carpet Awards, “the Oscars of sustainable fashion.” Fast forward to this March, and Open Thread is once again fielding a question from a responsibly-minded reader: how to go about curating an affordable and sustainable wardrobe?

“Fashion is grappling with the question of sustainability and its responsibility to improve its practices, given the scope of its production and distribution…often, shopping sustainably means paying more (which is likely one reason it hasn’t yet been broadly adopted).”

Everlane’s sustainable denim air drying

The piece goes on to cite Everlane and companies like H&M as examples of brands with “conscious” options that won’t break the bank, ending with a final, cheeky acknowledgement that vintage is the greenest option of all.

Girlfriend Collective

If you’ve got the same questions dancing through your head, look no further for answers — we’ve got you covered. On the super-sustainable-but-more-affordable side of things, there’s Lorraine & Co., Groovy Globe, and Girlfriend Collective. Companies like Better World Fashion and MUD Jeans operate on circular pricing models, which makes for great long-term value. Or take Patagonia, which has an entire section devoted to previously owned and repaired items; it’s a sustainable brand making something even more sustainable, at a great price.

All of which is to say, keep asking the right questions: the powers that be are starting to listen.