© Reuters. Sustainable and elegant: fashion seeks an ecological alternative to fast fashion
The fashion industry is a behemoth from 2.8 trillion dollars ranging from clothing to bags, from shoes to sports clothing. But what generates profits is above all fast fashion: the rapid production of clothes sold at bargain prices.
Fast fashion has a high environmental cost The market is flooded with thousands of new models every day, making it a profitable segment. But all this has a high environmental cost. Among the most common fast fashion brands are Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Gap, Forever 21 and TopShop. According to a Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2017 reporta UK-based nonprofit working for a circular economy, the equivalent of a truckload of clothes is thrown into landfill or burned every second in the United States.
According to the report, 475 billion euros are lost each year due to poorly worn or not recycled clothing. In total, the industry discharges 92 million tons of textile waste every year and consumes 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the needs of five million people.
Ecological fabrics One of the most effective ways to create ethical clothing is the purchase of ecological fabrics: the Lenzing group has been operating in the fiber and textile sector for over 50 years: it is best known for the Tencel label. This is Lenzing’s main textile brand, produced with a view to circularity to minimize the impact on the environment.
Stephan Sielaff, CEO of the Lenzing Group, believes there is still a long way to go for the sustainability of the industry. “I think it’s always good to think in numbers: zero is obviously a goal when it comes to carbon neutrality – says Sielaff -. But think about where we are today. Today the fashion industry has a recycling rate of 1%. It’s an industry that has come a long way ahead of it, and that starts with consumers like you and me. We have to make the right decisions: buy less, buy good quality clothes, wash less. I mean the clothes. We have to go in that direction. Together we can ensure that the industry produces a very small amount of waste. “
To reduce waste in the fashion industry, therefore, both brands and consumers need to make informed choices.
Turning Plastic Bottles into Clothes In Qatar, sustainable fashion is gaining ground in an industry that is trying to transform Doha into the region’s fashion capital. There is a growing community of fashion enthusiasts who want to responsibly lead their way in comfortable, functional, stylish and sustainable clothing.
Rspr is Qatar’s first clothing brand with a collection made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Founder Rina Saleh first used an antimicrobial fabric to make masks at the start of the pandemic. Orders from the Qatari royal family popularized his brand.
Thousands of masks later, Rina launched the RSPR sportswear line, which hit the shelves of Harvey Nichols and Galéries Lafayette in Doha. “It is our responsibility to educate consumers on the benefits that come with it – says Saleh -. And to make them understand that making ecological and ethical fashion choices does not mean not being fashionable and not being cool”.
Finding an inexpensive way to turn bottles into dresses wasn’t easy, but Rina is ready to launch a second collection, earmarking the proceeds for social causes around the world. Sustainable fashion in Qatar is taking other forms as well. High school students run the Project Upcycle – their initiative recently won Thimun Qatar’s Global Impact Award for giving new life to old clothes. There is still a lot to do to finally eliminate fast fashion and they are proving to be up to the challenge.
Virtual clothing in the Metaverse As already happened in the world of art and investments, the NFT and the Metaverse are also gaining ground in the world of fashion. Brands and large retail companies have launched into this trend by offering exclusive clothing in the virtual world: clothes don’t exist in a physical sense, but shoppers can get images of themselves with virtual clothes. Digital platforms have been identified as key growth drivers, but can they also contribute to an end to fast fashion?
Achim Berg is Senior Partner of McKinsey and Company and co-editor of McKinsey’s annual State of Fashion report. According to him, the test of this new market will be sustainability. “What everyone avoids asking is whether growth and sustainability are compatible – says Berg -. I think the metaverse is very clear. It could be sustainable now because it’s digital. I think there is an opportunity for growth. Clearly on the digital side, but it has to be done in a sustainable way. And sustainability on the other hand has to come in a way that is appreciated by customers and represents a valid business opportunity for the brands. “
After a tough couple of years the fashion industry is well on its way to returning to pre-pandemic levels, which bodes well for overall sales. But the rapid rise of ultra-fast fashion isn’t just causing damage to the environment – it’s also widening wage gaps and worries shoppers more and more. Apparel brands need to start taking ethical practices seriously for the industry to grow sustainably.