The pressure and consumer demand for fashion brands to be sustainable is increasing.
Sustainability, in fact, is the new word on the lips of the fashion industry, but how much effort are fast fashion brands putting into this and just how transparent are they being?
We were recently asked by a company to certify that a list of chemicals are not used in the fabrication of our fabrics. Why just slow fashion brands?
It’s time to turn the tables on those making and using polyester, viscose, satin, nylons, bamboo to label the chemicals they use to make these fabrics. Can you imagine shopping on a fast fashion retailers site and seeing which harmful chemicals are used to create their fabrics listed in their product descriptions, and the impact on the planet they cause? We ask fast-fashion not just WHO made my clothes, but WHAT’S in my clothes.
Why should the good fight to be seen as good and fight to prove. For instance an organic fair trade certificate costs thousands for small brands like us, but fast fashion retailers aren’t being urged to reveal their wrongdoings? By failing to distinguish if their materials are totally organic or sustainable, and HOW so, brands are consciously misleading customers.
Some brands are claiming that they creating organic fabrics, throwing the term around like another marketing buzz word – but how can cotton satin still be called organic after it’s been put through a chemical process to become shiny, soft and pliable?
The word satin was once used to describe the weaving method of 4 twisted yarns over one single yarn and was traditionally made of silk. However what is known as cotton satin is made of 100% cotton but unfortunately to give it sheen which people find irresistible the cotton yarns must first subjected to caustic soda (NaOh, also known as sodium hydroxide or lye), sulphuric acid and other chemicals.
These chemical are toxic to wildlife, and the EPA requires that effluent containing NaOH not be discharged into groundwater. Because sodium hydroxide falls in the group of chemicals (salts) which are by far the most often used in textile processing, the sheer volume of NaOH used by the textile industry is important to recognise. Usual salt concentrations in cotton mill wastewater can be 2,000 – 3,000 ppm, far in excess of Federal guidelines for in-stream salt concentrations of 230 ppm. So treatment of effluent is very important, as prevention is the only reasonable alternative to solve the environmental problems associated with this hard-to-treat, high volume waste we are doing that by not making it or buying it.
Last June, a fast fashion giant came under fire for releasing and advertising a £1 bikini. Their social channels filled with an uproar and consumers wanted questions – just how can garment be so ludicrously cheap, what people are suffering and are exploited to create them, and how long can can a poorly made polyester bikini last until it’s thrown away? Why don’t they explain whilst marketing this bikini how the product will be worn once and disposed of, or the fact that in a worst case scenario, polyester doesn’t decompose for 200 years.
If fast fashion brands do truly care about social and eco responsibility, sourcing information, process information and education should be at the forefront of their strategy.