I see many shades of green- especially when it comes to fashion. Vintage, second-hand, sweatshop-free, organic, re-purposed, recycled… there are so many ways to participate in eco-friendly fashion. Below are some picks from fellow Eco Etsy team members TheSlowCatwalk, PierogiPicnic and VeraVague.
Awareness is growing and more consumers are interested green fashion, and I’m sure that includes many readers of this blog. Huge brands like H&M even offer sustainable options and have released a CSR. But green fashion is still considered a small, niche market within the industry as a whole. There’s been a barrier to gaining wider acceptance and appeal from the majority.
So what’s stopping more people from going green when it comes to their wardrobes? I believe what we have on our hands is an image problem- green fashion is seen as alternative, separate from “real” or traditional fashion. It’s become the outsider in an industry where what you want is to be “in”: each have their own fashion weeks, their own magazines and blogs, and usually their own stores or sections within stores. In other words, green fashion is not seen as normal. Not by retailers, not by the media, and not by most shoppers.
This makes being green in a society where green is abnormal quite difficult, even for those of us who care about being responsible, eco-minded fashion lovers. Most people look to others around them to help them make decisions on what styles to follow and which garments to buy- we check out our favorite blogs, magazines and stores, and look to see what celebrities are wearing. We are social creatures, and we want to fit in and be normal.
What green fashion needs is a nutritional label, or rather a version of it- one easy to understand, authoritative source for the facts. Until nutritional labels appeared on the back of packaged foods in grocery stores (1990 in the USA & 2003 in Canada), you’d rarely find shoppers poring over ingredient lists in the aisles, trying to decipher amounts of fibre and fat. But once industry standards were implemented, shoppers began to consult the labels, and to change their behaviours. Today it is normal to make purchase decisions at the grocery store based on that label alone. How great would it be if it were the same for fashion?
Of course, some labels do exist already. There are hundreds of certification bodies which serve to alert shoppers to the ethical and environmental benefits of certain garments: GOTS, Oeko-Tex, Eco-Cert and Ecolabel are just a few. But there is no consistency in the presentation and explanation of these certifications, as each is independent and covers a different area. This puts the onus on the consumer to do their research, and provides little clarity in the moment a shopper is browsing the racks. Wouldn’t it be so much easier, if on each tag beside the fiber content and country of origin there was a section that made some small mention of eco credibility and corporate responsibility?
I don’t presume to have all the answers, but I think it’s important to have discussions about our ideas and identify possible solutions. I would like to see green fashion gain popularity, but I believe it needs to be accomplished by normalizing desired behaviors- by being inclusive.
What do you think? Is shopping for green fashion a challenge? Do you feel there are green options out there that suit your needs? Would you describe yourself as a ‘green fashionista’ to family and friends?