#LearnTheLabel: Breaking down the many meanings of eco-fashion

Aug 08

Fashion is an essential component to any society. Through the things we wear, we have the ability to share our personalities, our values and above all, our creativity. How we choose to clothe and adorn our bodies, will help tell stories of our society for generations to come. It is often how we remember the past and envision the future.

However, as a society, when we think of the clothes in our lives, we only think about the exciting part where we purchase them and bring them into our closets. The conversation never really goes beyond that, but have you ever thought about the process clothes go through to get into our hands and on our bodies? Where do our clothes come from? How far do they travel to get to us? And how could we ever know if our favorite pair of jeans pose a threat to the environment?  

Sure, there are methods we can follow to ensure our clothes don’t cause as much damage. Perhaps we give them away, or take them to our favorite secondhand retailer, like Goodwill or Buffalo Exchange, but even then, what happens to the textiles long after the clothes are no longer of use to us?

Textiles and the environment

Fast fashion is a term coined to describe items sold by popular retailers, such as Forever 21 and H&M. The term is meant to describe the lifespan of the clothes. Certain styles have a quick life cycle, and what is popular depends mostly on trends. Many of these companies have received criticism for a variety of their practices, but remain popular because of their accessibility and commitment to the everyday shopper.

However, there should be an alternative to fast fashion—and there is—but is it sustainable and accessible to the masses?

Sustainable fashion, also known as eco-fashion, refers to clothing that has been produced in an ethical manner; either that or it employs methods that aren’t as damaging to the environment as traditional textiles.

In 2017, The New York Times published a piece where they featured four sustainable fashion labels changing the way they produce their clothing. All four companies employ different strategies that demonstrate how the goal of sustainability can look at different companies. It is important to note, though, that each individual company sells their products at higher prices than many of the ‘fast fashion’ companies.

Different focus, same sustainability

Though adopting ethical strategies and implementing environmentally-friendly policies sounds like it should be something every company strives for, there are few taking that initiative and making “good” happen in numerous ways. There are also a variety of labels used by companies to describe their product. For example, some companies are labeled Certified B Corporations, while others (specifically for clothing) use the Oeko-Tex label, a certification that is only given to companies that have been tested for harmful substances in textiles.

If you are interested in viewing products that may be helpful to you and our world, you can check out some of the featured items on Klee from companies like THOM KELLY, uni-T, and RECOVER, all companies who are changing the meaning of eco-fashion.

Do you ever shop for clothes with eco-labels in mind? What makes you decide whether to purchase something or not?

Guadalupe Triana Guadalupe is the Lead Content Creator for Klee. She is a writer based in Austin, TX and enjoys talking about all kinds of music, social justice and protecting the environment. In her spare time, she enjoys a strong whiskey sour and writing with a reliable ink pen.