Sustainable fashion essentially stands for considerate, ethical manufacturing and compassion for the earth and people on it; traditionally defined by Planet, People, and Profits. Although we have come to realise that profit is not entirely sustainable as it promotes bad practices in terms of manufacturing and economic inequality. As the Sustainability Movement is at the forefront of the fashion industry, brands and consumers are faced with the challenge to reconsider their current views and approaches. People are now very aware of the negative impacts that fashion has on our planet; studies show that the younger generation cited more concern than any other, which shows that we are moving in the right direction regarding educating young people on how to create a sustainable fashion future.
UK Sustainable Fashion Pioneers
During Paris Fashion Week 2019 Stella McCartney called the fashion industry to ‘wake up’ and see that sustainability is not just a trend, it is in fact the future of fashion. With her creative initiatives and sustainable stories running through to her shoots, she is inspiring other brands to follow in her footsteps. In 2018 Stella partnered with Bolt Threads to create her famous ‘Mylo Mushroom Bags’ made from the roots of a mushroom to create an eco-friendly leather alternative, contributing to animal welfare. Not only did this encourage other brands to team up with sustainable mills but it also encouraged other mills to start experimenting with creating innovative fabrics from raw materials. In 2019 Boden released a capsule collection of regenerated swimwear with ECONYL, which scoop up plastic waste such as fishing nets from the ocean and generate it into luxurious nylon. Other brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Moncler have followed, using this material for jackets and skirts, and hats.
Amy Powney, Creative Director at Mother of Pearl believes that there is no handbook to sustainability. Sustainability has been a life-long passion of hers and since she has become the Creative Director of the company she has been on a mission to reduce fashion’s impact on the planet. She has journeyed to find the most ethical factories, supplies, and farmers who care about the planet as much as she does. Mother of Pearl source their wool from a company called Lanas in Trinidad who sends it over to weavers in Austria, this is all a fair-trade process that their fabric suppliers track; all their cotton is brought under the Global Organic Textile Standard, making sure that every worker is paid a living wage. Mother of pearl promotes clothing longevity; they post garment care & repair guides on their website to help consumers understand how to look after their fabrics – to increase the garment’s life span and help them buy less by supporting the idea of repair instead of replace. Other brands such as & Other Stories, Arket, and Mint Velvet also follow this practice.
Phoebe English has based her brand on being entirely sustainable. Since founding her brand in 2011 she has spent most of her time rejecting mass-made fashion; her priority is to have a close-knit team and a transparent production chain. A creative way that she recycles is to deconstruct garments and reuse the fabric, in which she comes up with original designs by following old seams and fabric panels. Phoebe believes that collaboration is key in making a change; she aims to re-educate the fashion world and promote the idea of sharing each other’s findings, rather than all competing against one another. She believes that if we all work together it would be a much smarter way to proceed, reducing the time that it would take for each brand to do its individual research. She has created a WhatsApp group named ‘Fashion on earth’, where designers, press, and selected committee members share ideas and swap tips. Phoebe also posts each stage of the production process on the brand’s social media account, so consumers can see behind the scene footage and feel involved in the process.
This article was written by Lucy Rodriguez
Lucy is a Fashion Designer from London. She is currently building a contemporary yet vintage-inspired womenswear brand. Her design aesthetic is utterly feminine and romantic. She is contributing to the sustainability movement by releasing small capsule collections committing to slow fashion and using fabrics that promote longevity. She has partnered with a small ethical manufacturing company in Europe.