Sustainability is now a hot topic in the fashion industry with many brands claiming to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. But what does “sustainable” really mean when it comes to clothing and accessories? Fashion as an industry has had a notorious impact on the environment and communities where production occurs, from the overconsumption of resources to the exploitation of labour and human rights in developing countries. Globalisation and the internet have meant that consumers are now more aware of these issues and, subsequently, many are now demanding ethical practices from fashion brands. However, what one person considers sustainable may differ from another’s definition. When true sustainability encompasses social, environmental, and economic components, balancing all of these can be challenging and often times impossible.
Fashion Brands and Greenwashing
To meet these customer demands for more sustainability in fashion, many larger brands are now making claims of using “eco-friendly” and “recycled” materials. However, some fashion brands often make these claims while still overlooking the social implications of their supply change and compromising on quality to deliver cheaper fashion. In addition, there is very little transparency on the origins of these so-called sustainable materials. Therefore, in practice a large number brands are focused on the word sustainability only to gain traction with customers and only a few are genuinely committed to sustainable practices.
This is where the term “greenwashing” comes in. Greenwashing is when a business makes misleading or false claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service to attract environmentally conscious consumers. Fast fashion brands notoriously use vague claims, irrelevant certifications, and meaningless labels to give the appearance of ethical practices.
PLATFORM’s Commitment to Sustainability
To PLATFORM, truly sustainable fashion means not buying anything and wearing the pieces in you already own that are made from natural fibres. However, we also believe that fashion is a form of art and continual self-expression. To this end, we work with designers and artists striving towards sustainability to mitigate their impact on the environment and communities. Our brands emphasize durability and longevity in their product design, using natural materials like wool, organic/recycled cottons, silk, cashmere, linens, etc. We don’t have polyester dresses that will wash microplastics in to our water and fall apart after a few wears. Our designers are working towards a goal of reducing waste and encourage consumers to invest in high-quality pieces that are carefully crafted in London, New York, Europe, etc. to last a lifetime.