As fashion week takes center stage and hundreds of fashion houses display their new collections, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of new prints, fabrics, and statements. What’s the new trend this season? Are we going for minimalist or maximalist? What styles will we see trickle down to more affordable brands and become synonymous with the season? 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with fashion design. It’s an incredibly creative and exciting industry that has shaped history. However, as the fashion weeks roll by, it’s difficult to ignore how they may be hurting the sustainable fashion movement. 

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How Fashion Houses Encourage Trend Cycles

When we look at fashion in ‘seasons’ we encourage trend cycles and the idea that clothes become old and unimportant after a short period. It’s all about what’s new, and not how we can continue to wear and honor the clothes we already own. Yes, fashion shows – especially from top designers – are considered a form of art, but they are also an advertisement for what to buy. 

Naturally, not everyone can afford to buy new season Chanel or Gucci, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get roped into thinking like that. If you watch several fashion shows and analyze their garments, then walk into a large fast fashion store a couple of weeks later, you’ll notice some similarities. In 2017, Zara was accused of copying Balenciaga and Yeezy sneakers, and Forever 21 has had several copycat instances. Shein has been under fire for stealing several indie fashion brand’s designs and turning them into cheap disposable garments. 

Does this mean large fashion brands are responsible for fast fashion? No. But they do contribute to the problem, even if the two worlds seem miles apart sometimes. 

Fashion Bloggers and Overconsumption

Then there are the fashion bloggers. These women (and a few men) are an important part of the fashion community. They bring the fashion houses to the world of social media and style trendy pieces to appeal to a larger audience. You may not want to wear the new Dior bag when you see it on the runway, but once you come across a picture of your favorite blogger wearing it casually to coffee, your opinion might change. 

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Once again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a fashion blogger, but it still encourages trend cycles and overconsumption. This is all about marketing and convincing people to buy a product that they don’t actually need or really even want. 

The bottom line is that every aspect of the fashion industry is connected, and overconsumption and unsustainable practices are at the root of fashion weeks designed to sell, sell, sell. 

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Who’s Making a Difference? 

There are a few brands out there working to change things. Here are a few of our favorites. 

1. Bode

Most of the clothing from Emily Bode is made from antique or pre-made fabrics and has a nostalgic and comforting feel to them. However, it’s not just Bode’s sustainable textile sourcing that makes the brand stand out

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As an employer, Bode has teams of craftspeople in Peru, India, and New York. During the pandemic, she made a point to continue employing Garment District factories, even when other fashion brands were canceling their orders. 

You can also go get any Bode garment mended at her new tailoring shop which encourages buyers to wear their clothes as much as possible, knowing that they’ll be able to get a hole sewn up or a seam fixed from day-to-day wear-and-tear. 

The pairing of sustainable upcycling and mindful business-owning makes Bode a brand to keep an eye out for. 

2. Calle De Mar

 

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This non-seasonal knitwear brand designed by Aza Zeigler makes easy-to-wear knits in the form of bandeaus, shorts, bodysuits, pants, cardigans, and more. In an interview, Zeigler stressed that all the clothes are “made in the USA and strive to keep the working conditions of our factories safe and happy.”

Being non-seasonal gives Calle De Mar sustainable bonus points because they aren’t as focused on turning out new trends. Instead, they strive to focus on quality, not quantity. 

3. Tigra Tigra 

 

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When it comes to making low-energy garments, Tigra Tigra has excelled. All of Tigra Tigra’s colorful textiles are made using low-impact and traditional techniques that date back as far as the Ottoman Empire in India. All their textiles are made with hand-powered looms, so textile production doesn’t require any electricity. 

Tigra Tigra has a ready-to-wear collection and a home collection. There’s a celebration of color and texture in all of the pieces. 

It’s difficult loving clothes and watching fashion week knowing that fashion is one of the most polluting industries on Earth. Surely, there’s a way to continue celebrating clothing without killing the world in the process.

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