Article in brief: author observes the growing impact of eco-friendly fashion.
With the mounting awareness of global warming, the fashion industry took its own stand for sustainability. For example, brands are formulating new ways of design by incorporating recycled materials into their garments. The designers combined effort is characterized by their willingness to “go green”, but for some it’s a marketing attempt to attract eco-friendly consumers.
Consumers that follow trends may commit to the movement and join in for the sake of the hype, motivating corporations and brands alike to fabricate sustainable products. For some brands, production of such goods is not considered as a sincere move from the management, with most of them being pressured into manufacturing them. Despite this fact, is it profitable for such brands to offer these products that publicize energy-preserving garments?
In terms of profitability, many designers have maximized revenue due to their eco-friendly garments. A prime example is Stella McCartney, who has made a name for herself in the industry in the past decade or so for successfully manufacturing products that are vegan and cruelty-free, even going as far as avoiding real leather. For bags, McCartney uses faux-leather and does not include PVC in any of her designs.
According to Kering Group, the process of making actual leather can greatly damage the environment including forests, while also intensifying the usage of water, cotton, and heavy metal in order to make designer bags. Not to mention the unethical ways of creating exotic bags, which mostly require skinning animals including crocodiles, snakes, and African ostriches. Most of the time, brands face ethical issues resulting from the ways in which the bags are created.
Recently Hermès encountered legal problems from acclaimed actress Jane Birkin, in which she asked the French brand to rename the “Birkin” bag, which was named after her. Following the release of a PETA documentary in which the organization explores how crocodiles were savagely butchered in order to make these bags, the actress refused to be associated with this item, which maximized Hermès’ profits.
Accordingly, Swedish retailer H&M released two collections titled the “Conscious Collection” that was aimed at producing clothes that were produced ethically and in no way harmed the environment. With the assistance from Ever Manifesto founders Elizabeth von Guttman and Alexia Niedzielski, H&M was not only able to create a sustainable collection, but clothes that were fashionable and immediately sold out upon sale.
H&M had accomplished this by collecting 7,600 tones of garments that were not wanted by customers i.e. almost 38 million shirts. It took 8,500 liters (2,245 gallons) of water to raise 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of cotton lint; this is estimated by The World Wildlife Fund to make one pair of blue jeans. The price-point was also considerably reasonable (taking into account its exclusivity), ranging from AED 65.93 to AED 2016.48.
In addition, another worldwide fashion retailer that took part in the movement, Armani Jeans, have been experimenting with incorporating eco fabrics into design since the mid 90’s. Their first eco project was the process of recycling denim, which was new to people and the jeans were displayed at the Science and Technology Museum of Milan, the first of its kind. During the same year Armani Jeans integrated new materials into their line using 60% recycled wool, cross-dyed cotton, and introduced hemp eco washes.
In the end it comes down to how the products are made, and whether it’s goodwill oozing from designers or just another way to maximize profit. Either way – it’s a milestone for fashion and its designers, and a positive note for our planet. Sometimes, faux can be as good as the real thing.
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)
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