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Updated: Jan 12

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What is sustainable fashion and why is it important?

Sustainable fashion is about meeting today’s needs while ensuring that the way we go about meeting those needs meet future needs as well.

If you dig down a little deeper, sustainable fashion is also about benefitting the people involved throughout the fashion supply chain – from farmers to consumers to everyone working in end-of-life facilities such as recycling factories.

Why is it so important? It literally is as simple as it’s a matter of life or death. I know that sounds intense but fashion has such a significant impact on communities around the world.

It also has a huge climate change footprint, and if we’re going to tackle the existential threat of climate change, the fashion industry needs to urgently address its unsustainable practices.

If we don’t start to address the negative impacts of the fashion industry soon, we’re not going to have an industry in the future.

The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting in the world, however, some brands have recently announced that they are aiming to become 100 per cent ‘circular’ by 2030. Do you think it is possible to achieve a zero-waste fashion industry?

Cotton, for example, requires a huge amount of water and synthetic materials like polyester are made from non-renewable resources such as oil. Then there are other materials, like viscose, which on a massive scale is leading to deforestation and is therefore affecting the habitats of endangered species and ancient trees. So it’s crucial that we move towards researching and developing more sustainable materials because it’s critical to the future of the fashion industry as well as the planet.

Climate change is here – and it’s accelerating. Over 100 billion products are being pumped out of factories every year and many of those products are made from synthetic materials that frankly take hundreds of years to biodegrade. But we don’t have hundreds of years to address climate change so we need to tackle unsustainability in the fashion industry now.

We are starting to see sustainable fashion being discussed at the talking tables of decision-makers in many countries. There are a lot of leaders investing in innovation but there are also a lot of laggards. Unfortunately, I think the only thing that is going to get the laggards to act is to introduce regulation, although governments move a lot slower than businesses, which could prove a challenge.

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