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Sustainable, ethical, or eco-friendly appeal? The conscious fashion movement has created a new chapter in the dictionary and modern fashion terminology can be challenging to understand. Let us take a gaze in this simple and helpful guide to understanding the language of sustainable fashion.

The Terminology of a New Fashion Era

The fashion industry is the second most pollutive industry in the world. This includes water waste, plastic-and waste pollution, harmful emissions of the journey from source to consumer, microplastics in water, and several other factors. As well, the way our outfits are produced has in most cases lost its grace, often at the cost of suffering for workers working under poor conditions and for a low wage. 

The awareness of the shocking and unsustainable method of making our garments has put fast fashion under fire and fresh trends of conscious products are rising at a fast pace. We are now moving to a new era, shifting from fast fashion to a more slow-paced and conscious way of dressing. Over the last decade, slow-living has become trendy. There is a huge movement of consciousness arising as global trends in the clothing industry, a trend that is generating a whole new glossary in the name of style.

Defining Conscious Fashion Terms 

The new era has created a unique chapter in the dictionary, with popular words embracing the world of fair fashion. The terms are everywhere and a precise definition can be difficult to understand, as well as the differences. Brands and stores are worldwide taking initiatives in a commitment and with passion for the holistic movement. These are creating trends, certified with ecology and workers in mind and heart.  The online world and celebrities are following too and supporting the movement by focusing on and promoting green solutions. 

Various innovative clothing brands are creating new textiles from waste organic materials as alternatives to for example leather, to reduce waste and create awareness. Also, large exhibition events are every year taking place around the world. One of the most influential sustainable fashion fairs is the bi-annual NeoNyt exhibition, taking place in Berlin in Germany as well as Innatex in Frankfurt.

To define the terms, sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly is a test. Because these terms are broad and covering diverse angles, and are associated with various aspects of life. In fashion, the achievements of companies worldwide have been set, to make the green alternatives of clothes available.

But, conscious appeal is not simply a specific fabric or design, but a complete approach to our garments, how we care for it and make it last. Hence sustainable fashion is a way of investing in higher quality clothing which is of better quality, produced from eco-friendly, recycled elements, and is less harmful to the environment, our health, and the craftsmen who created it.

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Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability is a deep term that covers multiple aspects of living, business, and the environment. Here it is associated with textiles that are environmentally friendly and foremost, that it will last, and sustain. Sustainable and eco- friendly fashion align in this aspect. When talking about quality over quantity, minimalistic timeless style, and capsule wardrobe is often referred to as sustainable clothing.

Another factor is to reuse and extend life and make the process of a certain textile or cloth last and extend its life for other purposes. 

Making fashion sustain is a subtle art and it is often not sufficient to simply buy a genuine quality, it is also the way we treat our clothes. We need to take care of it and make sure that it will last. That way, sustainable wear is not entirely fabric and materials, but our approach to our dresses. So if we wish to go sustainable, we can buy fewer, but quality, pieces, in timeless styles. It is worth the investment. 

Ethical Fashion

Ethical fashion can as well be defined from diverse perspectives. Popularity is Fairtrade certified appeal, which makes sure that the farmers and workers are well treated and valued and paid the proper price of the material. Additional aspects are empowerment. A large number of brands are now centering on the empowerment of women, people with difficulties, and providing the workers’ opportunities for working and a feeling of worthwhileness. This idea sees labor as more than a simple source of productivity, but as humans, with deep appreciation and a good and fair salary for them to sustain themselves and their families. 

It is often these base brands are selling a story to the customers. We as consumers are enjoying our purchases if we are ensured that the person who made our shirt or shoes is treated well and that we potentially support someone in that process of buying a new dress. A move away from poor conditions to graceful working places with more connectivity, care, and love makes ethics. Ethical clothes often go under terms like fair fashion, and with social responsibility as a top priority. 

Ethical fashion also covers the aspect of non-harmful procedure animals. Cruelty-free products are in high demand and this aspect is rising. This is an example of peaceful behaviors of using materials from animals, which does not involve killing, extraction, or any kind of exploiting factory-like mistreatment. We frequently hear how animals are suffering under our desire to look good, but there are options where the animals are treated with love, respect, and care. This is, for example, Mulesing-free Wool, Eri-silk, and Peace-cashmere where well-being, appreciation, health, and harmony is the top priority, as well as taking care of the environment where these animals live. 

A campaign, ‘Who Made My Clothes’ initiated by the Fashion Revolution, went viral and shed light on the facilities and conditions which multiple workers work under every day and how our clothes go through the hands of existing personalities around the world. This campaign is standing up for the rights of the workers in the textile industry.

Eco-Friendly Fashion

What is referred to as eco-friendly or eco-fashion, is leaning closely on what we refer to as sustainable fashion. Both terms are related to the protection of the earth and the environment. 

Ecological clothing especially associates with organic, natural, and biodegradable materials. Fabrics and materials which do not compromise on ecology.

Organic cotton is one of the most popular organic fabrics at the moment, which is a no toxin, better for the health and health of the planet. Using organic natural fabrics on skin, various allergies have proven to be less likely to appear, and therefore it is highly suggested to dress our babies and children with these green materials. 

To make a cloth eco-friendly, local produce is of high importance. Hereby we can reduce the emissions released by the transportation from the other side of the world and to our end consumer in the country where we are selling the goods. This applies, not only with clothing but for every product. The organic materials that come from nature are biodegradable, and will naturally go back to the soil when its lifetime is over.

Sometimes the eco-clothing is dyed by natural dyeing methods where vegetables, tees, and other plant-based compostable materials are the source of the color of the fabric. This is still under development in various places in the world.

Does Buying Conscious Fashion Really Matter? 

Being sustainable in every aspect and every way of consuming products, matters. Every time we act in our lives we are directly, or indirectly, taking a vote for what kind of world we want to see. Hence, what we put in our wardrobe matters. Even it can feel impossible and unreachable to be up against huge clothing concerns, at least it is something that counts for the earth, people, and our health. We have a vote

Ethical, sustainable, and eco-friendly, are the most common categories and designations for eco-conscious style, among multiple. So if we can mindfully care for our shopping, dressing, and choices and look at the external and internal impact it has, before we act, this is the key to a change of the environmental and ethical issues in the industry. 

Eco-conscious shopping is not hard to achieve since more and more shops worldwide are placing ethical, sustainable, and eco brands as a part of their identity. Labels today build their identity on being green and fair. 

Sustainable brands today are creating stylish and fashionable designs, so there is nothing to lose by choosing a conscious option of appeal. To discover ethical options of clothing is all about doing a small piece of research for how and where to find clothes that come under all the categories of conscious clothes. It is absolutely possible.

It is in all aspects important to take a gaze on the origin of the material and look at the supply chain. Often in the industry, the products are passed through numerous hands and several locations and factories before it ends up as the product we see in the store. By building a more sustainable chain from source to consumer, cutting out some of the middle-men, craftsmen can be paid more, less toxic emissions are released, and the whole process is extra efficient. By this method, the clothes automatically get higher traceability and transparency, we will know the origin and whom we support. 

A good idea, and a popular trend, is to create a capsule wardrobe, to organize the clothes in a way so that we at the same time appreciate the clothes that we have. Buying less, in better quality, and only what we need, recycling, reuse, and repairing, is also a green trend and steps towards a more eco-conscious closet.

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Cotton is one of the most common natural materials.

Organic is not Necessarily Ethical 

We need to keep in mind that because we are choosing organic eco-labels, it does not mean that it is ethically produced. It is important to check the label, background, and origin of the product. Cotton is natural and better than polyester, but the produce of cotton can be extremely harmful, unethical for the farmers. For conventionally grown cotton, chemicals are used as well for the crops to grow. 

Choosing a natural material is not necessarily organic or ethical, and chemicals may have been used in growing the crops or unethical actions that may have been used in collecting the raw materials. 

Another aspect is what is referred to as Greenwashing. Greenwashing is a way in which the labels or companies are branding a certain sustainable aspect of their product, which cover-up for a non-ethical and darker side. On the market, we will discover various certifications for eco-textile, green produce, and fair conditions, etc. But we must be alert and understand that certain certifications are likewise a commercialized path, and sometimes these are the biggest greenwashers. 

Achieving a complete circle of sustainability in fashion is an achievement that is challenging to obtain. We have to admit the fact that something being 100% covering each aspect from supply chain to consumer, is a highly ambitious achievement in the industry. Designers may be creating clothes with the best intention, but it is still not every organic brand, an ethical label that has achieved to cover all the factors.

Make it clear to yourself what really matters to you in a conscious fashion. Rather it is the environment, animals, people, or something else, you can surely find a trendy option that covers your main concern and it will make a difference.

All being said, eco-consciousness in fashion is an enormous movement that can have a tremendous impact on our environment and us. So if we can be mindful and look for a conscious option next time we shop, this is a great action.