Fast fashion has transformed the way people buy clothing. Constant trends and swift manufacturing cycles have contributed to a culture of careless over-consumption. We recently wrote about the alarming environmental impacts of fast fashion. Fast fashion is often created in exploitative and dangerous conditions and keeping up with demand is detrimental for human life.
Luckily, the tides are turning and many businesses are transforming the industry. Fast fashion giants are being shunned in favour of conscious retailers who put values first. The truth is that sustainable fashion matters.
Here is a list of 6 innovative brands that are defying fast fashion in favour of a model that truly cares for people and the planet:
Spell is a brand that recognises that true sustainability is a journey. Now in its 5th year on the path to a more ethical model, the brand founders are continually challenging themselves to find new and better ways of operating. Part of that has been implementing more responsible fibres in fashion collections and investing in finding innovative fabric solutions for the future. The brand is also committed to recycling, from fabrics through to packaging.
Spell is also considering water usage, the use of toxic chemicals, the process of farming raw materials and its energy use in manufacturing. In the interest of transparency and accountability, Spell conducts regular supply chain audits. Socially the brand has pledged to commit to social advocacy projects each year that support artisans, among other initiatives.
Minimalist label Kowtow is making incredible strides in New Zealand to reduce waste. The brand makes simple garments designed with a fully circular model in mind. The designers are accountable for what they create, by using regenerative materials (that can be recycled infinitely) and using organic cotton that is much less impactful on the natural environment. The washing and dying process of manufacturing is done using environmentally friendly dyes and chemicals, and less water.
Kowtow offers complimentary repairs to encourage people to get further use out of garments. The brand has created a ‘take back program’ that incentivises customers to return unwanted clothing for proper recycling.
3. Maggie Marilyn
Maggie Marilyn is a brand that seeks to transform the fashion industry from the inside. It’s founder, Maggie Hewitt grew up in rural New Zealand and is deeply passionate about the natural environment.
The brand has a full sustainability strategy, aligned with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals. Maggie Marilyn considers social and environmental issues and is very transparent, publishing its strategy online as well as a supplier code of conduct and detailed information about its values, mission and approach. Progress on these goals are then documented on the website for accountability.
When it comes to the environment, Maggie Marilyn is Carbonreduce certified and uses fabrics that possess independent certifications. The business considers responsible chemical and water management, conscious packaging and aims to create a circular and regenerative business model with less waste. Socially the brand has a statement about inclusivity. It encourages equality and ensures that people that engage with the business are treated with dignity and respect. Community is important to Maggie Marilyn and the brand has an ongoing partnership with an Auckland based charity.
Transparency is key to A.BCH, who offer full disclosure about every piece it sells. Garments are designed and manufactured in Melbourne from renewable, recyclable and organic materials. A.BCH follows a circular fashion model. Sustainability is thoughtfully considered during design, using materials and accessories that are biodegradable and up-cycled where possible. By creating timeless designs and promoting a capsule style wardrobe, the label is able to encourage people to consume less and get more use out of the designs they do invest in. Further to design and manufacturing, A.BCH educates consumers to care for garments and repair where possible, greatly extending the lifecycle. There is also a cellulose recycling program in use that was created with scientists.
Another important aspect for the brand is ensuring that suppliers share the same ethics and values both socials and environmentally. A.BCH is selective about who it does business with and chooses fair trade suppliers and manufacturers that have an Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.
A certified B Corporation, Kathmandu has long been renowned for its sustainable innovation. Recently the business began to tackle the world’s plastic problem. It released a custom bio fleece product line where the materials are made from 100% recycled plastic. More than just being created from recycled plastics, the clothing is also mostly biodegradable so that it doesn’t sit in landfill once it has come to the end of its lifecycle.
The outdoor adventure brand regularly publishes content about the environment. Kathmandu is currently Australia’s biggest B Corp, signalling its devotion to a new way of doing business that constantly considers sustainable and community goals. It uses sustainable cotton, solar energy and has been involved in a number of projects that encourage and actively grow a diverse workforce. In the community Kathmandu has developed programs with charities that support people and the planet.
NAGNATA is a brand that counters fast fashion with thoughtful design. Collections are versatile. Garments are ‘transseasonal’ – rebelling against the fashion industry obsession with short-term and seasonal trends. The Australian brand also considers longevity in the design and production process. The designers choose “the most environmentally conscious option” and create garments that will stand the test of time.
Outside of the design process, sustainability is a huge focus. NAGNATA garments are often made using organic or renewable fibres that mininise the impact on the planet. Similarly the designers have created collections using upcycled fabrics, natural dyes and other textile innovations. The entire process is created with sustainability in mind. There is a conscious effort for packaging and printed materials to be reusable or and recyclable. They also consider social impact. Founder Laura May has travelled across the globe to work and collaborate on artisanal collections with women in underprivileged communities, allowing them to earn a living wage and dignity through their artistic practice.
There are many change makers that are defying fast fashion with creativity and steadfast devotion to doing business differently. These brands and designers are pushing innovation, changing processes and putting values first. By taking care of people and respecting the natural environment, brands can create a sustainable future for the fashion industry.