How fashion is tackling sustainability

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Prada has become the first luxury company to sign a $55M ( approximately £43M) sustainability-linked loan with Crédit Agricole, after signing the ‘Fashion Pact’ this August at the G7 summit. This loan ensures that Prada honours their commitment to the pact, as failure to do so would result in a loss. Adidas, H&M, and GAP have already committed themselves to this pact, and along with Prada, will be expected to reduce their emissions of green-house gases by 2050, in order to comply with science-based targets. Prada has recently taken steps towards this goal, in marketing their ‘Re-Nylon’ range, a series of bags including tote bags and belt bags fabricated with recycled nylon and sourced from old fishing nets.

why do we need to move towards sustainable fashion? what are companies doing about it?

Prada is now expected to reflect the changing ideals of customers, recognising that durable, stylish, and sustainable ‘slow-fashion’ is becoming the favourable choice and the foreseeable next step for the fashion industry. Before industrial revolution clothing used to be produced by mainly ‘natural’ fibres such as wool or silk, however the switch to synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon are proving to be unsustainable and polluting to the environment. To synthesise these fibres, the processes consist of chemical reactions and coal burning, which are consequently emitting carbon dioxide and harming our planet. Polyester is also not biodegradable, meaning it cannot be converted to its natural state and will contribute to our planet’s waste. The overuse of water in the production of clothes, and the use of pesticides on ‘fashion crops’ are equally contributing to agricultural pollution. In light of this, the emerging trend of buying second-hand clothes is not surprising. But how are fashion companies acting towards a more sustainable future?

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UNIQLO, a member of the non-profit Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), is cultivating more sustainable techniques in their production of jeans by avoiding pesticides and chemicals in their cotton production. UNIQLO also aims to reduce water use by up to 99% by using the advanced equipment laser processing and nanobubble ozone washing machines.

Patagonia enthusiastically promotes sustainability and environmentalism with their mission to create high-quality and repairable outdoor wear which is 100% recyclable. They encourage the use of their extensive ‘Repair & Care’ guide on their website, insisting ‘if it’s broke, fix it!’.

H&M are also promoting sustainable fashion as part of their ‘conscious’ clothing movement, by devoting part of their website to affordable and more sustainable clothing and providing information on protecting the environment and workers’ human rights. In-store, H&M are attaching green tags to ‘conscious’ clothing, certifying that the product contains at least 50% sustainable materials, such as organic cotton and recycled polyester.

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It is worth noting that the addition of environmentally conscious lines can be argued as adding to the problem, as they are an addition and not a replacement. Adding sustainable clothing to your unsustainable clothing, instead of reducing the amount of unsustainable clothing you make does not an environmentally conscious brand create. Instead it only adds to the problem.

Since Prada's signing, over 30 companies encompassing over 150 brands have also signed the pact. Some of these include MatchesFashion, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, and Zara. If you want to put pressure on fashion brands who you don’t feel are taking action towards sustainability goals, I recommend visiting:

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