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Sustainable fashion:
Where Are We At In 2020?

By Emma Petterwood

If 2019 was the year that ethical and sustainable fashion was finally put on the industry’s agenda, then 2020 is the year of awakening; the year we all started advancing towards a greener future.

And if I can be honest, 2020 is definitely the year I started to take a real hard look at my own [consuming] behaviours. (Thank you, global pandemic!)

Why do I choose to consume in considered fashion? Well, let’s just say I knocked over my coffee when I started to delve into the ugly reality behind our fashion industry. It’s the second biggest polluter in the world, just behind oil.

Fashion has been costing the planet and it’s a cost that is continuing to grow. A humble T-shirt alone requires three years worth of drinking water – and that’s just to produce the cotton needed, alongside heavy pesticides.

Fast fashion retailers have made their name by giving us a chance to buy cheaply made pieces that look like designer clothes for next to nothing.

But their sales techniques are having a drastic impact on consumer behaviour around the world. In particular, they change our perception of the lifespan of the garments we buy and try to convince us that outfit repeating is a faux pas, when we know it’s a sustainability must-do.

As for what we do with all the fast fashion we have been busy consuming? In Australia alone we discard around 6000 kilograms of textile waste into landfill every ten minutes. Talk about a frightening statistic.

Source: Upparel

On a global scale the numbers are even scarier.

The fast fashion industry produces 1 billion garments annually, emitting 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year – about 5% of global emissions. That’s more than the emissions created by air travel and international shipping. Production at this scale is pushing our natural systems to the absolute limit.

The good news (yes, there is some!) is we’re seeing brands building sustainability into their core values, with new and emerging designers leading the way.

A few that I wear and admire (including some we will be stocking at After Eight) include Wynn Hamlyn, Maggie Marilyn, Paris Georgia, Anna Quan, Anaak, Matteau, Bondi Born, Natalijia, Viktoria and Woods, Re/Done, Outland Denim, Nanushka, and Bassike. Another one to watch is Aaizel, a Melbourne designed and made brand, for their strong sense of purpose and a deep connection to their values. As Creative Director Minhee Jo says, “If we can all get into the habit of practicing sustainability and raising awareness amongst customers to buy smart and support ethical brands, this can really make an impact in the long run.”

Sustainability isn’t about organic fabric or recycled fabrics, although they are both great places to start.

I see it being about a brand trying to create value in the world – designing garments that can be worn and loved for a lifetime.

As we continue to see sustainability rise within the industry, you can feel optimistic as After Eight brings you styling tips and designers who are leading the charge in this exciting new sphere of fashion. And the wait is (almost) over with Drop One coming to you this December.

Here’s to learning and sharing together.

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