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In recent years, fast fashion conglomerates have been producing garments at record-breaking speeds, with major retailers such as Zara, H&M and Primark creating hundreds of collections per season to drive sales and capitalise from the insatiable demand for trendy and affordable clothing. While fashion lovers can now purchase clothing at a lower price point, questions of overconsumption loom over the unsustainable production practices of the industry and there are calls for a transparent sustainability reporting system for all phases of production which consumers then take into account when they choose what brands to purchase from.

The mountain of disposed garments in the Atacama Desert in Chile

Credit: National Geographic is a website that rates clothing brands on their sustainability performance and environmental impact, the website aims to educate the public on their purchases and allow those who are environmentally conscious to shop according to their preferences. The three main parameters on which Goodonyou measures sustainability are people, planet and animals, producing scores on a scale of 5, as well as an overall rating. As the brands are graded on their scale of environmental impact, the website covers brands of various price points and genres. A high-end brand that had recently been found to have exploited Peruvian wool manufacturers for the past decade, scored 2 out of 5 and gained a “Not good enough” rating, while Story mfg., an ethical and vegan brand, scored a 4 out of 5.

Overall, mass-production brands produce lower scores while small-scale artisanal companies perform better, as they can afford to implement more stringent measures to be sustainable, such as maintaining ethical procedures, paying living wages, reducing animal-derived components and using sustainable materials in their products.

Handbag made from Amazonian Fish Skin, a sustainable leather alternative.

Credit: Osklen

There are many ways to dress stylishly, another approach to shop sustainably includes shopping vintage or reworked pieces, which along with the Y2K fashion trends, saw a revival among Generation Z. As shoppers grow to be more environmentally conscious, clothing brands may move towards fulfilling their sustainability goals in their hopes of retaining their customers and growing their market. 

Author: Arthur Ip, ICSD UK Chapter Youth Ambassador


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