Recycled, Upcycled, Biodegradable, Fairtrade, Sustainable and Thoughtful not words I instantly associate with fashion or style. The words sustainable fashion used to send shivers down the spines of the most discerning shopper and yes me included. Second hand, someone elses clothes – Really? there was nothing to bridge the gap between responsiblity and style. Thankfully established brands are catching on and upcycled shops or boutiques (to make them sound that little bit fancier) are becoming more and more popular with the snobbiest of shoppers.

The concept of ‘sustainability’ is inherently at odds with the world of fashion.

An industry that makes a living by providing its fans with the very newest trends that haven’t been seen or used before is surely one of the most unsustainable imaginable. And that’s exactly what it is.

The world’s second most polluting industry after oil, the very nature of fast fashion’s quick trend turnover renders it so damaging that it has become one of the most environmentally crippling industries on the planet. And, according to a recent report, it’s only getting worse, with the textile industry emitting more greenhouse gas emissions than international shipping and aviation combined.

New beautiful lines are being created and brands are embracing sustainability, such as H&M’s Conscious Collection, Mother of Pearls No Frills and Sezanes committed and Arkets recycled nylon swimsuits (going to be honest not sure I fancy a recycled swimsuit). Now there are new designers weaving sustainability into their brand’s DNA.

One of my personal favourites in this trend are the VEJA trainers, almost good enough to eat. The upper is made from recycled waste, while the soles are made from WWF approved rubber, sourced from trees in the amazon (hence the price tag) £115.

Many people confuse ‘sustainable fashion’ with ‘ethical fashion’, and while the two are unquestionably linked, the concept of sustainability in the industry refers to the effects of the production of clothing on the environment (ethical fashion concerns the way clothing is made – encompassing everything from how the cotton was grown to whether and how animals are used, and how the garment workers are treated).

The very basic aim of fashion sustainability is to ensure that clothing is manufactured in such a way that the product’s life cycle minimises any undesirable environmental effect. Hear Hear!

While the on-going detrimental effects of the fashion industry are drilled into us, there are a number of brands acknowledging the issues and adapting their businesses to create change. Not because they need to look “good” but because it makes long-term economic sense.

Every year, thousands of tonnes of clothes are thrown away with household waste and as much as 95% of those clothes could be recycled. Buying new materials doesn’t make business sense when a brand could reuse what they have already. Waste doesn’t make business sense.

In 2013, H&M were the first fashion brand in the world to launch a global garment collection initiative, allowing customers to hand in any unwanted clothes or materials to any H&M store regardless of the brand or the condition of them in return for a £5 voucher to spend in-store. Additionally, each year H&M launch the Conscious Exclusive collection. The collection comprises of “high-end environmentally friendly pieces, aiming to move H&M’s fashion and sustainability development towards a more sustainable fashion future.”

The digital fashion world is also leading the way, with eBay one of the biggest backers of pre-loved fashion. Offering up the opportunity to both buy and sell pre-worn items in over 190 countries, it is the very epitome of a sustainable fashion cycle.

How can I champion sustainability?

For such an important question, the answer is very simple – shop from labels and collections that support sustainability. That way you can fuel your love for new trends without supporting the production of damaging, unrecyclable materials.

Other ways would be to adopt a charity shop habit and buy pre-loved clothing (a great way to snap up ‘vintage’ pieces without the price tag of London’s edgiest vintage stores).

So now your fully clued up about what this means and where to buy, lets go shopping!
Or if your wardrobe needs detoxing and all those unwanted clothes need sorting and donating to charity you know where to find me.