Sustainable fashion is becoming increasingly popular as people become more aware of the environmental and social impacts of their clothing choices. However, sustainable fashion can often be more expensive than traditional clothing, leaving many people wondering why this is the case. This article will explore why sustainable fashion is expensive, examining factors such as quality materials, slow production processes and fair labour practices. By understanding these elements, we can gain insight into why sustainable fashion may cost more but also how it offers long-term benefits that make it worth investing in.
What is sustainable fashion and why is it becoming popular
Sustainable clothing is the concept of designing, producing and consuming clothing in a way that is environmentally friendly and socially responsible. This approach to fashion involves using materials that are organic, recycled or sustainable, as well as utilizing production methods that reduce energy consumption, water waste, and chemical inputs while also providing fair wages and safe working conditions for garment workers.
Sustainable clothing is becoming increasingly popular as people become more conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their clothing choices. There are several reasons why sustainable clothing has gained traction in recent years, from increasing awareness around issues such as climate change and exploitation of garment workers from most fast fashion brands to the emergence of new technology that enables more efficient production processes and transparent supply chains.
Sustainable fashion industry vs Fast fashion industry
The ethical fashion industry is growing rapidly and becoming more mainstream, with estimates showing a significant increase in global sales of sustainable fashion over the last five years. According to a report by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, ethical fashion has seen an average yearly growth rate of 14 per cent since 2015 and the global market size is expected to reach $96 billion by 2021.
This rapid growth can be attributed to several factors, including increasing consumer awareness surrounding environmental and social issues, as well as new technologies that enable more efficient production processes. As consumers become increasingly willing to pay higher prices for sustainably made clothing, there is an increased demand for products that are both eco-friendly and ethically sourced. This has encouraged many large fashion companies to adopt sustainability initiatives such as sourcing materials from recycled or certified organic sources to reduce their impact on the environment.
In addition, sustainable practices and ethical labour practices have become an increasingly important part of ethical fashion. The industry has embraced fair trade principles to ensure garment workers are receiving livable wages and working in safe conditions while also providing them with access to education and training opportunities. This commitment to ethical labour not only helps improve worker rights but also increases the overall quality of the garments being produced.
These efforts to make fashion more sustainable have come at a cost, however, as high-quality and sustainable materials such as GOTS-certified organic cotton or recycled materials tend to be more expensive than those used in traditional clothing production. Furthermore, slow production processes due to longer lead times often require larger investments of time and money resulting in higher prices for consumers. Nevertheless, these efforts also result in superior quality garments that last longer than traditional clothing while reducing environmental impacts - making them worth investing in for those looking for fashion that is both stylish and responsible.
Fast fashion brands are the largest contributor to unsustainable fashion, with estimates showing that it accounts for around 70% of global apparel sales. Many fast fashion brands are characterized by their emphasis on quantity over quality and the use of cheap, disposable materials such as polyester or nylon. These materials are not only bad for the environment in terms of water pollution and energy consumption but also hurt workers, who often face long hours in dangerous conditions and low pay.
These practices have caused immense strain on the planet's resources as well as human rights abuses, which is why many consumers are now turning away from fast fashion for more sustainable alternatives. Fast fashion companies have responded by introducing new initiatives in an attempt to reduce their environmental footprint and improve working conditions; however, many argue these measures do not go far enough to address the underlying issues within the industry.
Recent studies conducted by McKinsey & Co suggest that despite efforts to curb its negative impacts, fast fashion continues to be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water waste and worker exploitation across the globe. According to their report, emissions from textiles production were responsible for 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2018 - an increase of more than 50 per cent since 2000 - with most of this pollution coming from traditional apparel production methods. Furthermore, up to 93 per cent of all textile waste ends up in landfills every year due to its non-biodegradable nature.
The situation is even worse when it comes to garment workers, who often work long hours under unsafe conditions while earning poverty wages due to a lack of regulation and enforcement within the industry. Research suggests that garment workers around the world earn an average wage that is significantly lower than those in other sectors (around 20 per cent lower than minimum wages). Moreover, garment workers often experience harassment and discrimination daily due to their status as vulnerable populations.
Overall, it is clear that fast fashion continues to be a major threat to both our planet's resources and human rights across the globe. Despite efforts by some companies to reduce their environmental footprint through sustainability initiatives and ethical labour practices, much more needs to be done if we want to make real progress towards creating a more sustainable future for everyone involved in fashion production - from producers, manufacturers and retailers down through consumers themselves.
Why is sustainable fashion expensive
Sustainable clothing often uses higher quality materials than traditional clothing production, which leads to higher prices for consumers. These materials are typically more expensive because they are sourced from reputable suppliers that use organic and environmentally friendly practices, so the cost of production is much higher. Additionally, many of these fabrics use recycled or regenerated fibres which require more labour and resources to produce - leading to a higher cost for sustainable fashion brands.
Organic textiles such as cotton, linen, hemp and wool are becoming increasingly popular due to their natural properties and biodegradability. However, these materials also tend to be more expensive than synthetic fabrics due to the fact that they require specialized farming techniques meant to reduce environmental damage such as water pollution and soil degradation. Similarly, eco-friendly dyes used in sustainable clothing production are usually derived from plants or minerals - making them more expensive than traditional chemical dyes that can pollute waterways and harm local ecosystems.
Recycled materials are another major component of sustainable clothing production since they help reduce the number of resources needed for new garments while also keeping waste out of landfills. Many brands have started using recycled plastic bottles - turning them into fabric - to reduce their carbon footprint; however, this process is more time-consuming and costly than traditional methods so it often results in higher prices for consumers compared to fast fashion prices. Similarly, some designers are now producing garments made from upcycled textiles such as vintage clothing or scraps from previous collections to reduce waste; however, these pieces tend to be much pricier due to the extra labour involved in sourcing the materials and craftsmanship required for each garment.
More sustainable materials include Tencel, which is made from wood pulp, and Peace silk, which uses a process that doesn't harm the silkworms. Both are much more expensive than traditional methods due to their ethical production processes and higher quality of materials.
Overall, it is clear that sustainable clothing is often more expensive because it relies on materials like organic fibres, eco-friendly dyes and recycled fabrics that require additional resources and labour costs during production. Despite being pricier than traditional clothing items though, these efforts result in superior quality pieces that last longer while also reducing environmental impact - making them worth investing in for those looking for fashion that is both stylish and responsible.
Organic cotton is one of the most used materials in sustainable fashion
The cost of sustainable clothing is not only affected by the quality of materials used, but also by the labour involved in the production of these garments. All too often, garment workers are underpaid and overworked to meet the demands of fast fashion companies who prioritize quantity over quality. This type of unethical labour practice has been linked to mistreatment, unfair wages and violation of human rights - something that many sustainable clothing labels are trying to address through fair trade and living wage initiatives.
A living wage, as opposed to a minimum wage, is a salary amount that allows a worker to afford necessities such as housing, food and healthcare - allowing them to lead a dignified life. Unfortunately, garment workers in many countries are paid far below this standard due to low wages and long hours. As such, ethical and sustainable brands have taken steps towards ensuring that their workforce is compensated adequately for their work by committing to pay each worker a living wage.
Though this may increase production costs for sustainable fashion brands, it helps guarantee better working conditions and improved quality of life for those involved in making our clothes - creating an environment where everyone