By Martin Onufrowicz
With the recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which brought to the forefront of
the public discourse the issue of racism around the world, a big topic of the conversation
has been surrounding the systematic injustice in the world of fashion.
The industry has not only faced criticism for its severe lack of representation of ethnic
minorities when it comes to models featured in magazines or designers that are in the
limelight, but also for cultural misappropriation and discrimination of BAME people working
in the head offices and stores of fashion’s big players.
Another major focus has been put on bringing attention to the injustice surrounding the
stage of production of the garments. Fashion Revolution, a global organization uniting
designers, producers, retailers, academics and policymakers, has been putting the spotlight
on this form of exploitation in their ‘Who made my clothes?’ campaign, which goal was to
‘unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a
safe, clean and fair way.’
Even though many of the fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M or Zara, are priding themselves
on creating special ‘sustainable’ or ‘conscious’ edits, in reality, those collections are only a
small part of their overall production. Unfortunately, these lines also become a way for
businesses to use the buzzy words for marketing purposes and are a strategy of
‘greenwashing’, giving them an excuse to not imply the sustainable and ethical processes
within their companies as a whole.
The question remains: how can we make sure that our shopping choices are not only good
for the natural environment but also were not produced in oppressive surroundings? The
key is to buy our clothes from brands, which are completely transparent about their
sourcing and practices.
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, producing an estimated 10% of
all humanity’s carbon emission, as well as being the second-largest consumer of the world’s
water supply. Therefore, while making purchases, we should take under consideration if the
companies we shop at are using organically-sourced or recycled fabrics in the creation of
their garments and make sure that their manufacturing processes are causing as little
damage to the ecosystem as possible, through lesser usage of chemicals or implying
eco-friendly energy sources. It’s also crucial to be aware if the people who created our
clothes were not exploited in the process, but have been paid fairly and worked in humane
However, the most effective way of supporting sustainability in fashion is avoiding excessive
consumption altogether – rather than spontaneously buying inexpensive clothes on a
weekly basis, let’s make informed decisions and choose to buy only a small selection of
well-made pieces per season that we will not only enjoy wearing right when we get them,
but also for years to come.