Fashion Fashion Editor Muse

Fashion Fight: Is Eco-Fashion The Way Forward?

Peter Jacobs and Janan Jama throw down about where eco-fashion belongs in the future of the fashion scene.

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Oh for more space to wax lyrical about eco-fashion; I'd give a lot.

Eco-fashion is, for many reasons, the way forward. If fashion wants to remain the dynamic force that it has always been then it needs to welcome this movement, not join with the dinosaurs of our world who vehemently deny any evidence of global warming.

Children are suffering. In countries like Benin, Uzbekistan and India, regulatory states are so underdeveloped that they cannot regulate to prevent child labour from producing our cut-price clothes. This means that children are not only being forced to stunt their development to cater to our desire for cheap hoodies but are suffering or even dying because of awful workplace conditions. The eco-fashion movement is as much about these kids as it is about helping the planet.

Consider the planet. One cotton t-shirt requires at least 357 gallons of water to make. That's the equivalent of seven bathtubs of water. The Institute of Sustainable Communication ranked the clothing industry as the second highest polluter of clean water. Over 150 billion pieces of clothing are produced each year and this creates pollution in attainment of product, manufacture, and distribution to name but a few. This has led Forbes to credit the apparel industry as responsible for 10 per cent of carbon emissions globally.

Thus, the movement against global warming cannot be confined to the cars we drive or the food we eat. Clothing is everyday and we must be brave in welcoming the eco-fashion movement. PJ


The ultimate argument regarding eco-fashion is whether fashion can ever be absolutely sustainable and ethical. Does the use and manufacturing consider broader environmental/socio-economic aspects and does the process truly honour the people, skills, time and elements involved in the process? Well, let's be realistic...

If you want to be a morally principled consumer, I agree, you must acknowledge the manpower behind your maxi dress and the labour behind your leather jacket. But we must recognise that the gradual rollout of eco-fashion is a micro approach in a goliath industry.

The intention itself is of course well-meaning: to simply not contribute to harm. However, in the fashion industry, it's important to consider how this interferes with individual consumers and personal aesthetics. The beauty of fashion is that it is the most basic form of expression. Placing a specific framework of sustainable consumption on this very concept counters that ideal entirely and stomps on the aforementioned freedom of self-expression.

Asserting a realist perception of whether true sustainability in fashion can ever be achieved demonstrates the unattainability of it. Fast fashion solely relies on accelerated consumption, which results in bad quality and then inevitably, waste. We also need to recognise that ethics interferes with individual aesthetics and perhaps going green isn't for everyone.

Although conscious branding is a well-meaning sentiment, a small-scale method is not the most effective way to mend the morality in fashion. JJ



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