"Sustainable" in our consumer world, refers to production with respect to resource use, and the working and living conditions of those involved in production and use of the product. There are many facets that make a product or brand sustainable.
I look for and feature companies that promote slow consumption, are thoughtful and considerate with their resource use, innovative with their manufacturing process (energy sources, waste management), packaging, and care about the people making and receiving the goods.
When evaluating resources use, I first look at the materials used to make the product. Organically grown natural fibers including linen and cotton are much better for soil and water quality than their conventionally grown counterparts. Organic grown fibers reduce the acidification of soil and water, reduce overall water consumption and lesson the amount chemical exposure for the workers growing the fiber. Organic cotton, linen, wool and silk, are biodegradable, this means that the fabric discomposes well (This does not mean you should put clothes in your backyard compost. More on that later). When it comes to synthetic fibers, I look for those who use recycled synthetic fiber or dead stock so that no new plastic is being created. I'm smitten when companies choose materials that are healthy for the land and everyone handling the product (producer to consumer).
Clothes empower us. Clothes should not only empower the wearer, but every person involved in making them —from the people providing the materials to make the fabric, to the person preparing the clothes to be shipped. I support companies who care —companies that pay fair and living wages and are considerate of the livelihoods of those involved in the creation of their product.
The current trend in consumerism is to promote fast, impulse buys. A few decades ago only two or four clothing collections were released per year. Now, many brands are releasing new product each week, resulting in 52 collections a year. Many products across industries are designed with a predetermined or planned expiration date. Additionally, fast fashion uses excessive resources and often without much consideration to the working and living conditions of those involved in the production of the product.
At Sustainably Smitten, we love the slow fashion movement: fewer collections, less of a push to buy, high quality garments that will last. It's time for a new trend.