Ethical fashion means different things to different people. Sometimes, it means paying attention to the working conditions in garment factories, looking for fair trade certifications, and advocating for fair wages for garment workers. Other times, it means shopping secondhand on Depop and extending the life cycle of a pair of jeans.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of new clothes. How can we support our natural resources while also finding cute new sneakers for our next Pinterest shoot?
Climate change and its negative impact on our planet are concerns that loom over all of our minds. Pollution and excess waste have completely infiltrated natural environments, and it often feels like people in positions of power do nothing to reverse this tragic damage.
The fashion industry is a key contributor to global pollution, fossil fuels, and carbon emissions. As we all continue to learn more about how fashion and the production processes used to create clothes contribute to the climate crisis, an important fashion revolution is taking place: the rise of sustainable fashion.
Retail companies worldwide are making it their mission to produce clothes in a way that’s more environmentally sound (and sustainable!) to minimize the massive negative environmental impacts caused by traditional fashion production. We’re ditching harmful chemicals, microplastics, and unethical supply chains for manufacturing processes we can be proud to support.
Sustainable fashion is a relatively new phenomenon, and companies are still working out some of the kinks. Overall, it’s a step in the right direction towards creating a healthier planet and reducing the impacts of climate change.
There are many ways brands are innovating within the sustainable fashion space, so there’s a lot to unpack. Keep reading to learn about the routes fashion brands like KOKOLU take to ensure sustainability and the benefits of shopping sustainably!
How Is Sustainable Fashion Produced?
Plenty of fashion companies mass-produce garments in textile factories, which uses excessive amounts of energy and explains why the fashion industry is responsible for nearly 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. (These business models also avoid paying their workers a living wage — yet another way that mass-produced fashion is a total sartorial “don’t.”)
Now that we know about the massive environmental impacts of clothing production, companies are working to fix the way we produce clothes. It takes a lot of time and effort, but companies like KOKOLU are changing the way clothing is being produced so that the environmental impacts are significantly less devastating.
Instead of mass-producing clothing in these large textile factories, brands are focusing on new technologies to create cute, fashionable clothes in a sustainable way.
What Is 3D Knitting Technology?
A new sustainable way to create clothes is using 3D knitting technology.
This form of clothing production takes images, 3D-prints them, and creates replicas of those virtual designs. It’s a clever way to create stylish clothes that can use breathable (and sustainable) fibers to create the clothes. These are some ways brands like KOKOLU set themselves apart while producing eco-friendly looks.
Using this kind of technology to produce clothing is innovative and helps lead to a significant decrease in oil production, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste. So, basically, say buh-bye to that carbon footprint. It’s an all-around effective and sustainable means to create fun styles.
What Is Sustainable Packaging?
Aside from actually making and producing clothes, another problem with the fashion industry is its methods for packaging products. Online shopping is NOT going anywhere, so it can seem impossible to imagine an eco-friendly way for clothing brands to ship and package their products.
Thankfully, there actually are ways to ensure that clothes are being packaged and transported in ways that are sustainable and less wasteful!
Several methods are used in the fashion industry to promote environmentally-friendly packaging solutions, such as recycled cardboard and compostable packages.
The easiest way to ship items is in cardboard boxes and containers, but that can be wasteful if it isn’t done properly. What many brands are doing to solve this issue (KOKOLU included) is reusing cardboard and shipping products in recycled cardboard.
Instead of cardboard being wasted and ending up in landfills, it goes through continuous recycling and is constantly in use. This means less waste, less production of new cardboard, and convenient packaging!
The worst thing fashion brands can do is include unnecessary plastic in their shipping containers. Too often, clothes are wrapped in plastic or even shipped in plastic containers, which ultimately end up in landfills or polluting bodies of water.
The worst part is that plastic isn’t necessary — like, even a little. Now that we know that fashion brands can go without, eliminating plastic usage is a simple and impactful step towards sustainability.
A really exciting method for packaging and shipping products is using compostable packaging materials. Brands know that it can be hard for consumers to remember to recycle our packages, which is partially why so much waste is produced. Oops!
Thankfully, sustainable fashion brands have found a loophole by using compostable packaging material. Composting is an ideal solution that’s super environmentally friendly. The packaging materials can return to the soil, help enrich the environment, and promote overall better plant health!
These changes might seem small, but brands switching to more sustainable methods of packaging materials makes a huge difference. Sustainable packaging leads to less waste, more composting, and more recycling. It creates a more sustainable fashion industry overall while getting consumers in the habit of making more environmentally conscious choices.
Sounds like a win-win to us.
What Are Sustainable Materials?
One of the most important aspects of sustainable fashion is the use of sustainable, natural materials to create garments. To be frank, companies often take the easy way out when choosing which fibers and materials to use because of cost. It is very cheap to mass-produce clothes made out of, say, poly-cotton, instead of organic cotton.
However, eco-friendly brands understand that the environmental impacts of using non-sustainable materials ultimately cost us way more than springing for the more expensive, but more sustainable organic materials.
There are quite a few options that fashion brands can use to create sustainable clothing, so let’s run through a couple of the key players when it comes to organic materials used for fashion.
Out of all the sustainable fabrics, organic cotton is probably the most well-known in sustainable fashion practices, and for good reason!
Organic cotton is so much better for the environment, mainly because it is organic. No pesticide for us, thanks.
The synthetic fabrics that are often used to mass-produce clothing are inorganic and not biodegradable, whether that’s conventional cotton or viscose. This means that when inorganic materials are used, once they end up in a landfill they will remain there for years and years.
Plus, the processes to make their dyes and the fabrics themselves can unleash toxic chemicals on our trees and threaten the biodiversity of our planet. All that for a t-shirt? Pass.
Natural fibers like organic cotton and some other raw materials are biodegradable, so they will break down more quickly and return to the Earth instead of taking up space and polluting it.
Many sustainable fashion brands use organic cotton. The environmental benefits of using friendly materials aside, organic cotton is just a high-quality fabric in general. Clothes look and feel better when they are made from organic cotton (and sustainable materials in general).
Clothes made from eco-friendly materials are more durable and attractive, which is also conducive to sustainability since you’ll likely keep your clothes for longer!
Organic cotton, though sturdy and reliable, is not the only sustainable material to keep your eye on.
Recycled Plastic Fibers
There is so much plastic waste contributing to the ongoing environmental crisis, but sustainable fashion brands have created innovative methods to recycle plastics and use them in their garments, minimizing the amount of plastics in landfills and oceans.
This method of upcycling is important (and incredible for the environment). There is no escaping the massive amount of plastic waste on this planet, but repurposing that waste to produce high-quality clothing is an ingenious take on sustainable slow fashion.
KOKOLU is a key player in this method of producing sustainable clothing. Every bag and every pair of shoes sold is made out of upcycled, post-consumer plastic from East China.
Using recycled materials like this is a huge step forward in the sustainable fashion industry. It finds a way to make use of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or polluting water, and it also refrains from taking even more resources from Mother Earth. Ultimately, this leads to reduced carbon emissions and a reduced carbon footprint.
Sustainable fashion would not exist without the clever use of these sustainable materials. Creating clothes in this way is redefining the fashion industry and creating a healthier planet!
What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Fashion?
Now that we understand the complexities of sustainable fashion, let’s unpack the benefits of this evolving, eco-friendly industry!
Cute, High-Quality Clothing
Obviously, shopping through sustainable fashion brands is great for environmental purposes. Putting that aside, the clothes produced by sustainable brands are simply top-notch.
There’s no point in buying eco-friendly clothing if you’re never going to wear it. At the end of the day, finding clothes that are cute and comfortable are shoppers’ top priorities. Thankfully, sustainable fashion makes style and comfort easy.
The materials used to produce these garments are organic and high-quality, so the clothes are high quality, too. You will be doing your part to make the world a better, more sustainable place, while also stepping out in stylish, high-quality pieces.
Since sustainable brands make their clothing out of organic and upcycled materials, the clothes themselves are durable and will last longer in your closet!
Everyone knows the frustration of finding holes, pulls, and tears in their favorite shirt. When you shop sustainably, the products are so high quality that it’s much harder to damage them. You will find yourself replacing pieces less and less when you shop through sustainable brands.
A common misconception about sustainable fashion is that it is too expensive. Of course, there are some eco-friendly brands that are on the pricey side, but sustainability is not only for the elite!
Companies like KOKOLU make it a part of our mission to create garments that are not only sustainable but also accessible. For example, KOKOLU tote bags and sneakers are sustainable, on-trend, and extremely affordable — they’re around the same price as fast fashion bags and shoes, without all of the damage to our planet!
Newer brands are coming to the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement to provide stylishly sustainable pieces at a reasonable price.
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
The brands creating sustainable fashion are important players in reducing those pesky negative environmental impacts — but the buyer’s important, too. When you shop sustainably, you decrease your carbon footprint by supporting brands that use sustainable practices like biodegradable packaging, renewable energy, or even creating pieces from deadstock materials.
We all know that old habits die hard, and changing your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint can be difficult. Shopping for sustainable clothing is a great way to do your part to help the planet and reduce the carbon emissions and pollution that plague our Earth.
Sustainable Fashion Is the Future
We are constantly learning more about how industries negatively impact the environment, and fashion is certainly a contributor. Still, knowledge is power. Brands are taking this information and changing the fashion industry entirely by committing to sustainable practices — and some are just “greenwashing” their messaging to look cool.
To us, sustainability isn’t a trend. Brands like KOKOLU are actually committed to innovating the fashion industry by changing the way clothing is produced and shipped. We all want to do our part to try to reduce some of the harm that has been done to our planet, and incorporating pieces from sustainable fashion brands into your wardrobe is a great place to start!