A peek into "sustainable" fashion

Why, how, and when the fashion will change because of water

Photo Taken by Me | NYC, B&J Fabrics, Summer 2018

Spoiler: Most of this fabric will go unsold and unused.

A couple of weeks back I asked folks to send me topics to dig into and write about. Here’s my first follow up to a colleague asking me to write about sustainable fashion.

This week’s blog is inspired by the topic Laila W. had
brought up last month.

That “fashion” thing you love is dying

Fashion, as you know it today and as you have known it for your entire lifetime, is going to die. The way we produce and look at fashionable clothing today will not be the same in 10 years—hell, maybe even 5.

The number one topic in fashion right now and most other industries is SUSTAINABILITY. Businesses are beginning to look at sustainability as not only a fad to sell more product, but as a means to a successful and hopefully much farther-out-in-the-future, end.

Some Good News?

In my very personal opinion, though, all of these efforts and the countless others from big brands are great, but it will simply not be enough on its own.

We need a shared understanding of “sustainable.”

Scoping “Sustainable” in Fashion

Here is Burberry’s idea of a sustainable ecosystem for manufacturing and delivering products to their customers.

I’ll admit, it’s well rounded and sound in logic. However, it has one fundamental flaw that many companies often overlook.

It doesn’t focus on businesses outside of itself.

When Apple created the iPhone and inevitably the iOS store back in 2007 they were well aware they were creating the future of all developer ecosystems. Apps and ecosystems and developer platforms were spun up out of nowhere now that they had a guiding light from Apple’s ecosystem.

Burberry, if they’re willing to take on the responsibility, needs to take Apple’s approach if they truly want to change the game.

My approach to a sustainability plan:

  • Fabrics that are produced in a ZNE environment

  • Regional manufacturing

  • Regional shipping

  • Clean energy and ZNE manufacturing centers

  • Pre-orders preceding mass-production

  • Sell fewer clothes

  • The production manufacturing process vertically integrated with fashion waste company, Fabscrap

  • Partner with low-carbon logistics companies and fund research in that domain

  • Invest in research and organizations focused on water conservation

  • Make our supply and logistics chain open source

I’ll admit that my plan is a non-exhaustive list. There are so many more factors to consider here. Many of which introduces the idea that certain parts of the manufacturing process have to become commoditized.

Changes that have to happen soon or else…

One of the biggest crises that fashion is facing and will face going forward will be centered around water.

Tanneries and dye houses around the world have faced scrutiny for decades for the amount of contamination and pollution they’ve caused on a global scale. They’ve ruined lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans at a level that is irreversible in most cases.

Those blue jeans and black t-shirts we all love so much…here’s what they’re doing to cities and villages around the world.

Image sourced via The Independent UK | Reuters

The big issues ⛔💧💧💧⛔

I’ll let these points sink in for a bit.

As water becomes the modern-day oil, we will all have to brace and reshift what we see as important. The fashion industry will have to rethink the entire supply chain, their yields, their product offerings, and especially their bottom line.

Pay attention to how many companies shift their “sustainability” strategies in the next 18-24 months.

Author’s Note

I am building a luxury fashion company and these issues are also top of mind for me, especially as a new business owner. There will be a separate article detailing our product development and production practices and I hope that you’ll be impressed with our efforts.

Thanks for reading.


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