The global #apparel market is a major contributor to the global economy, worth $1.5 trillion and powering 430M jobs. Yet in recent years, the fashion industry has attracted considerable criticism. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and #socialimpactoffashion, of the industry and their expectations are rising.
The impact of fast fashion
Fast fashion has given consumers more choice than ever, at increasingly lower prices. But is it sustainable? Fast fashion is responsible for around 10% of global CO2 emissions, with textile manufacturing contributing more to climate change than international shipping and aviation. The environmental impacts don't stop there: pollution, pesticide use, oil consumption to make polyester fiber, water consumption plus waste are all byproducts of a system that is optimised for producing high volumes of new, cheap products.
As well as the environmental impact, questions have been raised about the impact on the workforce. 93% of garment workers aren't paid a living wage, and although the industry is a critical global employer, poor working conditions are endemic to much of the industry.
Moving towards a sustainable future
There is increasing demand from consumers to understand more about the impact of their purchases. Measuring this and presenting it in a way that allows consumers to make informed decisions is immensely challenging. Single measurements like carbon emissions don't paint a complete picture, and comparing different social and environmental measurements is complex . Many brands and retailers are now taking things into their own hands by sharing their core values, and assuring consumers that they work hard to live by these.
What can individuals do to support a more sustainable fashion industry? Buying second hand is a great starting point. How about when you buy new? Choosing items that will last and give you a lot of use is one way. Spending your money with brands that adopt positive environmental and social values is another. Andisor champions brands that aspire to have a positive impact on the environment and society. Companies like Soli and Sun and House of Wandering Silk support local artisans who produce beautifully handmade pieces. Businesses like Euclove and Gunas work hard to responsibly source the materials for their products. Major retailers are also helping to lead the way, integrating options to buy back second hand items. It may sometimes feel that your individual decisions can't have much of an impact, but cumulatively consumer choices will be one of the biggest forces shaping the industry over the next decade.
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