What is slow fashion and why is it important?
Each year we buy approximately 80 billion pieces of clothing. They’re all made of materials that has a negative impact on the environment, some to a larger degree than others. With fashion being one of the leading industries that affect the environment, sustainability plays a huge role.
That’s why slow fashion has become a rapidly growing movement. It’s a direct response to the unethical and wasteful practices of fast fashion. The latter may be convenient to the consumer, but it’s often at the expense of both the environment and the individuals making the clothes. Slow fashion, on the other hand, tries to minimize the negative impact on the planet and the people. It does so by focusing on sustainable materials, fair wages to labours and safe work environments.
And for those of us who want to join the movement and become a more conscious consumer, awareness of materials is a great way to start. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the more sustainable materials.
5 sustainable fabrics to look for in fashion:
Cotton is a natural plant-based fibre which is durable, breathable and biodegradable. However, it uses massive amounts of water. More precisely – about 2700 litres for a single t-shirt! A better option is therefore to choose either organic or recycled cotton. Organic cotton uses far less water and is grown without harmful chemicals, preserving the well-being of the soil. Choosing organic not only means that you’re reducing your carbon footprint – it also means that you’re supporting better work conditions for cotton farmers.
Linen is a plant-based material that stems from the flax plant, and it’s been used in clothe making for thousands of years. It can be processed without chemicals and uses significantly less resources than cotton or polyester (such as water, energy, fertilizers and pesticides.) Flax plants are also able to grow in poor soil which isn’t used for food production.
Hemp fabric is made using fibres from the stalk of the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s one of the fastest growing plants, and it leaves the soil in excellent condition for any following crop. The fabric has similar qualities to linen and it’s often hard to differentiate the two. Being one the most versatile and durable natural fibres, hemp is a great sustainable choice of fabric.
Econyl (recycled nylon)
Econyl, created in 2011 by Italian firm Aquafil, is made entirely from ocean and landfill waste, such as discarded fishing nets, industrial plastics and waste fabric. It’s a 100% regenerated nylon yarn with exactly the same qualities as virgin nylon, but without the global warming impact. The material can be continuously recycled without losing its quality.
Pinatex, or Pineapple fibre, comes from the pineapple leaves. It uses the waste products of pineapple harvest, so there’s no need for extra recourses to produce it. As a natural leather alternative, it avoids toxic chemicals and heavy metals used in animal leather. Pinatex also has social long-term benefits, such as giving new income streams to farmers in need.