If we type fashion on any search engine, we’ll probably get results mentioning the term sustainability more often now. The concept has become a mantra for most of the fashion brands in the current times to become more environmentally and socially responsible. But even Superman was fragile to kryptonite, so is sustainable fashion to some other factors. These factors act as barriers towards its total acceptance. Before talking about these bumps on the highway of sustainability, let’s know what makes it different from fast fashion.
Sustainable Fashion v/s Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is the production of low – quality production of fashion products at a fast rate. The notion behind this is to rack up huge profits by catering to the high consumer demands. But elements like ethics, social and mental well-being of the workers involved and environmental concerns are often compromised. Workers are made to work in poor and hazardous working conditions and at negligible wages. Sometimes they are not even paid that. Hence, making it a dreadful practice. Whereas, sustainability is about the slowness of creation, accepting things to work in a natural flow without pushing the paddle too fast. This takes into consideration every social and environmental aspect related to the production.
Not just this, fast fashion can also be described as the prime establisher of the throwaway culture. This culture, where the modern generations treat fashion products as ‘disposables’ has further social and environmental hazards to follow.
Another difference between the two types of fashion is the relationship the brands share with their customers. In the fast fashion scenario, the only relation between the brand and the customer is the product itself. Whereas, sustainable brands are eager to educate their customers about the process of production and the people involved in it. This level of transparency helps build a strong bond of trust between the two parties.
Considering the multiplied amounts of threats fast fashion possesses, there is an urgent need to move on to a more practical concept of sustainability.
Why is Sustainable Fashion expensive?
The major reason that restricts certain people to adapt a sustainable lifestyle is often its comparatively high pricing. But the products are not over-priced, they are just pretty accurately priced for each process that the product goes under. Sustainable clothing is not expensive, the quality of the garment is great. The garment can be worn year after year. Whereas the clothing purchased from fast fashion brands is of cheaper quality, doesn’t last longer and hence, available at throw away prices. We would like to urge consumers around the world to invest in a good quality product which lasts for years and is a classic. Consumers should stop buying a cheap trendy garment which doesn’t last longer and loses its quality quickly. Let us also know what forms up for the costing of these garments.
What goes into the pricing of sustainable clothing?
1. Ethical Sourcing
From using environment friendly raw materials to checking ethical measures being upheld throughout the supply chain, sustainable brands establish sustainability at the base level of production itself. This involves the preference of natural fibres over synthetic/man made ones. Though this is considerably an ethical and important practice to be followed, natural fibres are generally higher priced than the lab made ones, thus racking digits up the price tag.
2. High Quality Materials for making the garment
From the fabric to the trims, every material used in the making of the garment is of high quality. High quality ensures longevity of the garment. Hence, high quality materials costs more than the low quality materials, be it fabric or trims. The garment can be worn year after year.
As much as sustainability in fashion is about being environment friendly, it is also about being aesthetically pleasing. To achieve this feat, brands resort to the skilled and dedicated craftsmen related to the field. Recruiting these craftsman also aids in retaining and reviving some of the heritage arts that is also an imperial function of fashion sustainability. These craftsmen are appropriately paid for the exceptional services they provide. This enhances the beauty, ethics and price graph of the product.
3. Fair wages and working conditions
One of the aspects where sustainable fashion is loudly superior to fast fashion is the amount of wages paid to the labor and the good working conditions. A number of international fast fashion brands have been held guilty for underpaying their labor and for the bad working conditions. The collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh shook the entire fashion industry (Read here). Along with these, many brands hire underage children to work for them at considerably low wages to reduce the manufacturing cost even further lower. This is where sustainability comes in by not just paying the workers enough for their hard work, but also caring about their working and living conditions and also their mental and physical health. And this raises the price bar a level up.
4. Made to Order
Most, if not all sustainable brands create products based on customer requirements. This minimises the amount of wastage and helps in using resources judiciously. This leads to creating small batch productions which further takes the pricing up because smaller the scale of production, higher the amount of making the garment.
The Future of Sustainable Fashion
The fashion gurus around the world believe sustainability to be the only way out for fashion industry to change its reputation of being unethical and inconsiderate. They have the same faith in the rising technologies and innovations to solve this problem of sustainability not being pocket-friendly. It is believed, with rising awareness and popularity among people, sustainability will be adapted as the lifestyle in the future. People will understand the need of the hour of consuming quality products which last longer. Everyone has to understand that consumption should be need based not desire based and at the cost of human life. If people start consuming slow, the demand for the fast fashion will automatically reduce. We believe all of us have to do our bit to achieve this.
Also, with increasing awareness, the sustainable fashion industry will attract investors. This will help brands to keep up with their vision of sustainable fashion. The investments will help to increase increasing the awareness about it. The involvement of outside investments will lead to expansion of the sustainable business models.
That’s Indian- A sustainable Clothing Brand (Proudly Made in India)
We work with and use only high quality natural fabrics in all our garments. 100% garments made under our brand are made with natural fabrics. We make sure sufficient economy for our makers to ensure fair and ethical trade. We use all our resources judiciously. We are conscious of our choices when it comes to fabrics, trims & packaging. (Read more about us here.)
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Written by: Daksh Vohra
Edited by: Namrata Shah