Sustainable Fashion can mean a lot of different things to different people and fashion brands. For me, sustainable fashion means a SUPPORTABLE FASHION which is clothes that I love to support wear because I can identify with them. Of course, fashion is a form of self-expression but I mean garments that also meet my social and environmental expectations.
“What the heck is social and environmental expectations.”, you might ask. Believe me, I understand you because I have been exactly where you are! Until I heard about the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh in 2013, I didn´t even know that sustainable fashion existed and I was about to enter into the fashion world and study fashion design. I took for granted that the clothes I wear aren´t made with toxic chemicals. I took for granted that animals were treated respectfully in the leather, wool, and silk sector. I also took for granted that everybody in the supply chain was paid fairly and worked in safe work conditions. You already know the answer: Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed, especially when it´s not made in a sustainable way.
How is sustainable fashion defined?
In ecology, sustainability means “only to the extent that nature can bear it”. In other words, “only so large that future developments are not endangered”. Sustainable Fashion can sustain itself without using all the resources.
The Brundtland Report “Our Common Future"; of the United Nations of 1987 defines sustainability in the form of a call to action: “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" 1
A lot of people also define Sustainable Fashion as Slow Fashion which I definitely agree with!
It developed as a reaction to the so-called Fast Fashion. Quality instead of quantity, deceleration instead of acceleration and transparent tracking of individual garments. So, let´s dive deeper into the definition of Slow and Sustainable Fashion.
What are the criteria of Slow/Sustainable Fashion?
The Slow Fashion movement is the contemporary response to mass production and also a change in awareness to consume consciously and thus contribute to the preservation of resources, cultural diversity, and traditional handicraft techniques.
- Sustainable fashion does not follow trends that are subject to a short life. Designs are timeless and garments can be worn year after year again.
- Sustainable garments are usually uniquely designed and one of a kind.
- Sustainable fashion is based on the principle of social justice and ecological responsibility. That means they are produced in a way that is respectful to people, animals, and nature. This includes safe working conditions, fair wages, and no child-labor throughout the production chain. It also ensures the ethical treatment of animals without being hurt, tortured or killed. Finally, it also tries to reduce the used chemicals, prohibits toxic chemicals and develops guidelines for recycling water properly and implements ways of how to reuse energy consumption. These are just examples.
- In contrast to the throwaway mentality, sustainable fashion demands an appreciation of the garments. This goes hand in hand with the fact that sustainable fashion lasts longer due to its higher quality fabric and better manufacturing process.
- Second-hand clothes and renting clothes counts also as sustainable fashion because it follows the concept of reusing.
- In addition to upcycling or recycling, slow fashion also includes design approaches such as the zero waste principle. This principle means reducing the waste of fabric in the cutting process. Up to 20% of fabric waste can be generated in the case of complex designs. 2
What does sustainability mean for the Anke Wonder brand?
For my brand, sustainability means lowering the impact that fashion has on our planet. As far as fabrics, I am not using leather or fur. Instead, I choose fabrics that are certified with the globally recognized textile seal, GOTS. I also love to use fabrics that have been already produced, called deadstock fabric. For my Push Pin Art collection, I combined this fabric with styrofoam from packaging materials. I am also a supporter of earth-friendly, made in the USA shipping materials like 100% recycled Polyester or 100% recycled Paper mailer. My approach to the zero waste principle is keeping all my left-over fabrics from the cutting process and creating Miniature Collections for the size of Barbie and Ken dolls.
This is my personal love letter to sustainability with the mission to continuously make improvements in my personal life and for my fashion brand.
1 UN Documents. Gathering a Body of Global Agreements. 2016. http://www.un-documents.net/ocf-ov.html
2 Thumfart, Johannes. Nachhaltige Mode - Kein bisschen Stoff zu viel. 20. 10 2010. http://www.zeit.de/lebensart/mode/2010-10/mode-zero-waste