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Sustainable Fashion

Change for the Better

Sustainable fashion is a hot topic at the moment, with established brands from high street to luxury having to try align themselves with their customers growing expectation of supply chain transparency. Not only do we as customers want to know where and how our products are being made, we are increasingly questioning the ethical and environmental issues surrounding the fast fashion model of mass producing low quality product. This shake up in the fashion industry is well overdue. Fashion giants, most notably the fast fashion brands, are quickly discovering that green washing is not going to cut it. We as customers are increasingly woke to the veil thin marketing tricks, and a token gesture will no longer be enough to show the level of commitment towards sustainability that we are demanding. The exploitation of workers, unsafe working environments and unliveable wages are becoming harder to hide thanks to the efforts of exploratory journalists and our more connected world.

The topic of sustainability is being increasingly covered across industry titles, including VogueBusiness of Fashion, Cosmopolitan Magazine, The Telegraph, The Stylist, Grazia Daily to name a few, fashion bloggers and Instagram pages such as EcoAge. A huge credit is due to these fashion bibles and influencers for helping to spearhead this movement, in which we are pausing for a moment to rethink and evaluate the brands we choose to support. They are also playing a huge part in introducing us to new emerging and lesser known sustainable brands, brands built on a foundation of sustainability.

Building a Sustainable Company

Whilst it is a huge challenge for smaller and emerging brands to have a voice in a very busy market place, what we do have is the opportunity to build our companies from the start to be sustainable brands of the future. To be sustainable is to build a company that is both ethical and eco-friendly. With these values at our core, we are building a family of local British makers and suppliers, choosing to source our leather locally, craft locally in response to customer demand, and to make our branded boxes locally. We know where and who is making every single Padfield accessory. What we have discovered along this journey is that once you start down the sustainable path, you start making decisions that are just better. When we sat down to design our packaging we decided to be a plastic free company, and when choosing our UK courier we selected to go with the CO2 neutral option. By choosing to not cut corners, or value profit above all else, Padfield has naturally evolved to be a sustainable company. This is something that we are incredibly proud of.

Ultimately, it is down to every company to choose to seek out sustainable practices (and to find a way to make these often more costly practices work), and it is down to us as customers to keep the pressure on. To demand transparency and to actively engage with brands to learn about their values before we invest in their products. To ask the big question before purchasing: Does this brand care?

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Defining Sustainability

Sustainability is a hot topic in fashion at the moment (bravo!). When a term is frequently used (much like the word luxury) it is easy to loose sight of what it truly means. Wikipedia defines sustainable fashion as ‘a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion.’

Simply put, sustainability is a 360 view. The where, the how, the who, the why, must all be considered together to give a full picture. What I find most interesting to consider, is that fashion is a man-made system. A system in which we the end users are integral, the system can not operate without us. This insight is two-faced, it means we are in-part (mostly unwittingly, fast fashion brands have lots of clever tricks to keep us buying) responsible for the current ethical and environmental issue in the fashion industry. But, it also means that we have the immense power required to force a system change. We can be the game changers.

With help from industry leaders, such as the British Fashion Council who have introduced the Positive Fashion initiative and the Sustainable Fashion Show, we can be. But this is only the start, the system needs a major overhaul.

Is Fashion Sustainably Achievable?

Firstly, I think we have to think about every brand on a case-by-case basis. Cotton is not simply cotton. Where it is sourced, how it is produced, where the cotton is ultimately turned in to a final product, the authenticity of the marketing message behind that product, and how that product reaches the end user, means that not all cotton is equal. It is the full cycle that is fundamental to whether or not the final product has been sustainably made.

To come back to the question, is fashion sustainability achievable? Living an entirely sustainable life is a hard practice to implement overnight. One that on a personal level, I am still working at. What we can start to do immediately is make the best informed choices possible. Specifically looking at fashion, we can start buying less from brands that perhaps we once coveted for their fast pace collections and easier prices, and make a conscious effort to Buy Less, Buy Better. Personally, I am weeding out the fast or questionable ‘luxury’ fashion from my wardrobe and not replacing it. A rule of thumb for me is, if a brand is not clearly marketing where they are sourcing and making their products (this goes for luxury brands too) or their pricing is suspiciously cheap… I ask myself the question: Why? When making a considered purchase, I spend more time looking behind the marketing to see what the brand truly stands for. Do they really care.

At Padfield, being as sustainable as possible by choosing to work with a natural material and crafting locally in England has been a huge driver for me. I wanted to be in a position to state our provenance clearly, so that our customers never have to ask.

The take away note, I would be hard stretched to think of anyone who is living a 100% sustainable lifestyle 24/7. But perhaps if we all start making firm steps towards living this way, our future generations will not have to ask this question of themselves.

With love

 

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