Sustainability! More than a Buzzword in Fashion? (2023)

‘Sustainable fashion’ is one of the most widely used terms in the fashion industry today.

Sustainability! A word everyone seems to be associating with their brand today. Just using 100% organic cotton or natural dyes to produce garments. Is that what the term amounts to? In today’s context, the term has been used and misused to the extent that the the true meaning and the complex processes that make up the term have become blurry. What exactly is sustainability? Do genuinely sustainable products really exist or is sustainability still nothing but a so far successful marketing technique?

It is not only about the trend of socially responsible brands with eco-friendly products or coming up with some regulatory policies but also for catering to upcoming demands of conscious consumers to adopt sustainable fashion. Us as consumers, we have evolved. We have become educated about the materials and manufacturing process, which results in a growing interest to make socially responsible choices while updating our wardrobes with a value tag.

Today, sustainability is much more than a buzzword. You don't have to choose between what's good for business and what's good for the planet. Business and environmental objectives can and should work together. That’s where “Zebra companies” come in. A zebra company is both black and white - it is both profitable and works to improve society. In this way, zebra companies are defined as having a “double bottom line.”

You’re probably familiar with unicorn companies, which are startups that have experienced exponential growth and are valued at one billion dollars or more. These startups may seem impressive, but the unicorn model offers zero consideration to sustainability and sacrifices corporate ethics. In response to the growing concern for the effects of business on the environment and society at large, zebra companies have stolen the spotlight from their predecessors.

A play in words, zebras are known to move in groups, and zebra companies are characterized as mutualistic, tending to band together to support and preserve each other.

(Video) House of Sustainability - More than a buzzword

Khara Kapas designs artisanal clothing with pure fabrics with a minimal design aesthetic.

At Canvas and Weaves, we strongly align with the zebra business model whereby we strongly focus on quality and craftsmanship, rather than rushing to grow through exponential sals and funding. We work with other sustainable brands to produce a greater synergistic product and build a strong community of likeminded conscious lifestyle enthusiasts who are educated and aware of the choices they make.

Sustainable fashion is not just about what material you use/ reuse, but also how a garment/ product is made, who made it, what resources were used to produce it, and how it was sold, and purchased while considering the impact of its existence on the environment and eventually how it will die/get reused.

As more and more consumers demand environmentally conscious products, many companies are eager to jump on the bandwagon. However, some brands have been committed to sustainability from the beginning.

Apart from International giants like Stella McCartney and Patagonia, Indian homegrown labels like Raw Mango, Khara Kapas, Jodilife and The Summer House made ethical fashion a pillar of their label way before sustainability was a hashtag or buzzword. They are candid about the immense harm fashion inflicts on the environment—it’s the second dirtiest industry on the planet after oil—and has paved the way for other eco-minded labels to follow their lead. These brands are dedicated to design and offer clothing made using fair and ethical means such as providing safe working conditions to the factory workers, working with handloom weavers and artisans to create handcrafted products, sourcing organic or recycled raw materials and up-cycling post-production and post-consumer wastes. The gradual shift from fast fashion to a sustainable and socially responsible fashion is clearly visible around the globe. New and established fashion brands alike are making strides toward sustainability through innovative business models, new fashion labels, and sustainable supply chain practices.

(Video) Sustainability Isn’t a Buzzword

Ethical Sourcing & Innovative Design Thinking

Shop layered, geometric pieces in a neutral palette!

Sourcing the right raw materials is where it all begins. With innovations in the textile industry natural fibers such as 100% organic cotton, hemp, tencel, bamboo, Khadi, etc are more readily available and an excellent resource Indian labels like Rias, JodiLife and THREE have been pioneering. While brands like The Terra Tribe and Sui opt for lightweight and durable hemp, others are turning to innovative materials such as Tencel. Founded by Rekha Datla and Shivangini Padhiyar in 2005, The Summer House work with high quality, responsibly madefabrics - with a preference for handwoven, organic and modern explorations like ECONYL regenerated nylon and ethical tencel. Tencel is a new age fibre made from sustainably harvested trees. Wood pulp is converted into fibre using a solvent that has low toxicity and is recycled in a closed-loop process, which means that 99.5% of chemicals are reused. What this translates to is minimal chemical waste being dumped into the earth and its waters.

Founded in 2018, Ura Maku is another Indian label making leaps with organic materials like Eric silk.

(Video) Sustainability in Fashion | Vogue Talks | British Vogue & Tencel

Great design is just as important as eco-friendly fabrics and processes. Apart from sourcing, at the design stage, brands are using zero-waste design techniques such as zero waste pattern cutting, draping, smocking and plaiting eliminate waste. It is about innovative design thinking to ensure minimal wastage of raw materials. Achieving a zero-waste level of production remains a dificult task, but most brands have started taking initiative by using various ways to minimize waste. The use of leftover fabrics to create trims like buttons, tassels, and embellishments, or crafting them has become common practice for designers. Kriti Tula, the designer of Delhi based emerging label Doodlage, is known as ‘The Upcycler’ (Vogue India, May 2018). She uses scraps of fabrics, industrial waste with organic cotton and sustainable materials. She uses techniques like patchwork, up-cycling small pieces of fabric and threads, which would otherwise have been rejected for her designs.

Founded in 2020, Yam is another print-centric brand using traditional techniques of weaving, embroideries, sketching, and painting. Through innovative design thinking, they make garments and accessories consciously and with zero wastage using textiles from across India, including silks from Benaras and cotton and canvas from weavers in South India.

Apart from that, the reason early adopters like Raw Mango, Khara Kapas, Akaaro andTHREE are so successful is because they don’t compromise on style. The silhouettes are sleek, the fabric choices breathable and the designs timeless. THREE uses functional, timeless, minimal designs perfect for a workday or weekend. It is about thoughtful design that transcends any one lifestyle. Jodilife is the best example for a brand that celebrates indigenous Indian textiles are the craft of blockprinting with designs that are young, bold and fun to wear. Jodi is an India-based design studio and marketplace founded in 2014 by longtime friends Gauri Verma and Karuna Laungani. Offering joyful, fashion-forward designs, work with natural, Indian textiles while championing artisanal craft techniques such as hand block printing, bandhini dyeing, and hand embroidery among others.

Shop Hand Block-Printed artisan products innatural, Indian textiles

Sustainability managers are now popular within the brands to check all the vital points to be labeled as environmentally conscious brands. Our production processes must minimize water and power consumption; our supply chains must be transparent and traceable; our retail systems need a revamp to include sustainable habits like renting/reusing clothes.

(Video) Can fashion ever be sustainable? | BBC Ideas

The thumb rule in sustainable fashion is a product that supports the makers and their crafts.The production and procurement of raw materials, as well as the manufacturing, is done in such a way that pays fair wages to the workers or people living on the land, provides safe working condition respecting the environment and promotes sustainable farming. Major independent Indian labels like World of Crow, Jodilife, Khara Kapas and many more explore hidden corners across India to work with artisan clusters and celebrate their skill and craftsmanship. Equal emphasis is given on fair & ethical standards regarding their working practices. Many brands today are encouraging transparency regarding artist working hours, safe working conditions, and fair wages.

With the shift in the business of fashion there is a new market for businesses such as thredUP and Rent the Runway promoting the power of sharing economy and rent instead contributing to curbing the back of closets or landfills.

There are new dimensions emerging like circular fashion business models such as rentals, resale, repair, and refurbishment. Also, dedicated platforms, for example, Depop which contribute to selling vintage clothes are showcasing the great potential for circular fashion.

According to sustainable fashion industry statistics, the market is expected to rise to $9.81 billion in 2025 and $15.17 billion in 2030 at a CAGR of 9.1 percent, due to the growing awareness of ethical fashion.

Thrift and secondhand buying are currently en vogue. Customers are now becoming conscious about their buying decisions. They are mindfully spending their money while acknowledging that clothes need not necessarily drop their qualities just because they were pre-worn. Thrift stores not only offer pre-loved clothes at cheaper rates but also opportunity to develop one’s sense of style. Singapore based brand “Swapaholic” is a clothing and accessory swap that helps declutter and refresh your closet. Other brands likeThe Fashion Pulpitand The Reoutfitter are other Singaporean brands pioneering thrift shopping.The Reoutfitter is a fashion and wardrobe styling consultant in Singapore with an emphasis on promoting circular fashion and tailored fashion.

Innovation across the fashion supply chain does not come only from indexes and metrics. Other types of tech-based tools may have an equally or even-greater impact on sustainability; great examples are:

(Video) What is this Buzz Word Sustainability?

  • AI technology that lets consumers better understand clothes’ size and fit; this would reduce items’ returns, and thus, environmental impact caused by transportation.
  • AI solutions that predict trends and demand, so brands are better able to plan future designs, production and prices; these would help brands avoid over-production, with clear benefits for the environment and for a brand’s economics.
  • Marketplaces on which to buy and sell second-hand items, even if mono-brand or company-sponsored (e.g. Patagonia).
  • Marketplaces allowing brands, e-commerce and people to rent garments. This type of marketplaces, together with second-hand marketplaces, should extend the items’ lifespan and thus reduce waste.

At Canvas and Weaves, we understand that our strong knit community wants to feel great about their clothes, and that includes feeling great about how they were made with a concern of social responsibility. That’s why we make sure we work with brands are companies that love the earth, respect the artisans and produce happy clothes for you. We are rooting for zebras who value our environment and traditional craft heritage for true growth and prosperity. Who are you cheering for?


Sustainability! More than a Buzzword in Fashion? ›

Despite the word 'sustainability' becoming a major theme during fashion weeks all over the world, many would say it has become a buzzword, and from the perspective of a climate activist, I can confirm that it feels like the word has lost all meaning.

Is sustainability just a buzzword? ›

Despite the word 'sustainability' becoming a major theme during fashion weeks all over the world, many would say it has become a buzzword, and from the perspective of a climate activist, I can confirm that it feels like the word has lost all meaning.

Why is sustainability so important in fashion? ›

Sustainable clothing uses biodegradable components from natural or recycled fibers. These materials grow with no pesticide or fertilizer use, consume less energy and water, and employ no chemical treatment, thus reducing the overall carbon footprint of these brands.

Is sustainable fashion becoming more popular? ›

Sustainable and ethical fashion has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and the rate of growth is projected to accelerate in the future. The average annual growth rate of the ethical fashion market is 8.3%. This could grow to 9.7% a year by 2030.

What is the future of sustainability in fashion? ›

The future of sustainable fashion is bright and full of possibilities. As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, sustainable fashion is becoming more mainstream. Many fashion brands are also recognizing the need for sustainability and are making changes to their production methods and materials.

What is sustainability about more than just? ›

Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just environmental- ism.

What are the 5 C's of sustainability? ›

To achieve this vision, we have crafted the 2030 5C SD Strategy, by which our strategic priorities, known as the “the 5Cs”: Clean, Community, Culture, Care and Corporate Governance will point the way for the Group's sustainable future toward 2030 and beyond.

Do people care about sustainable fashion? ›

Approximately 65% of fashion consumers care about the environment, but only some regularly prioritize sustainability in their shopping.

How sustainable is the fashion industry? ›

The fashion industry is responsible for the production of up to 10% of the global carbon dioxide output and accounts for one-fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (via Bloomberg).

What is the sustainability concept in fashion? ›

What does sustainable fashion mean? Sustainable fashion is a way in which brands create clothing that not only reduces the impact on the environment but is also mindful of the people who work to produce the garments. Put simply, it is fashion that is ethically made and environmentally friendly.

Why is sustainable clothing better than fast fashion? ›

The main difference in fast vs. sustainable fashion is the amount of waste that each one produces. Sustainable fashion decreases waste by making clothing that is significantly better quality. Less waste leads to both less water pollution and fewer carbon emissions during production.

Why fast fashion isn t sustainable? ›

The Dark Side of Fast Fashion

It dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams, while 85% of all textiles go to dumps each year. Even washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

Why today's fashion is not sustainable? ›

These plastic-based textiles have a significant impact on the environment and climate throughout their life cycle due to emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. The textile sector is a growing contributor to the climate crisis, with about 1% of crude oil production used to produce synthetic fibres.

When did sustainability become popular in fashion? ›

Sustainable fashion started when apparel companies began to introduce environmental practices into their businesses in the late 1980s. It's part of the environmental movements creating more awareness on numerous environmental problems since the 1960s.

How fast is sustainable fashion growing? ›

The sustainable fashion industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.1% from 2021 to 2028.

Is sustainable fashion higher quality? ›

As well as better quality fabrics and manufacturing processes, sustainable clothing focuses on high quality details, such as the threads, cloth tags, hang tags, fastenings, and packaging.

Why sustainability is the future? ›

Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Why sustainability is key for the future? ›

Sustainable development seeks to improve the quality of life on Earth. Environmental, economic, and social changes are essential to developing a society that is sustainable for years to come. Provided that the goals of sustainable development are met, our world can realize prosperity and equality for all.

Why is sustainability important now more than ever? ›

Ensures a Future For All

If we deplete the resources of the Earth, future generations will be depleted. For example, if we over fish our oceans, we risk not only depleting the supply of fish, but also depleting the supply of every organism in the food chain related to that fish.

What are the 3 R's of sustainability? ›

The 3R Initiative aims to promote the "3Rs" (reduce, reuse and recycle) globally so as to build a sound-material-cycle society through the effective use of resources and materials.

What are the 4 S's of sustainability? ›

The 4Ss mean Stop, Slow, Simple and Share. Stop is about discontinuing certain detrimental activities or actions, either on a self- regulating basis or enforcement by another party. In order to flourish sustainably, we must stop carrying out negative activities or actions towards the environment.

What are the 8 pillars of sustainability? ›

The foundation of a sustainable community revolves around eight major pillars: economy, health, nature, built environment, energy, community, social equity, and transportation.

Where is sustainable fashion most popular? ›

According to the research, the 10 countries most interested in sustainable fashion are: United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark and Canada.

Is sustainable fashion ethical fashion? ›

Ethical and sustainable fashion are generally used interchangeably. However, for some, 'ethical fashion' focuses more on what is 'morally right' about the treatment of everyone who inhabits this planet we call home—humans and animals alike.

Is sustainable fashion a niche? ›

Sustainable fashion is no longer a niche market term for high-end consumers or us environmentally-conscious few. Over the past decade or so, sustainable fashion has become decidedly mainstream, with major brands and retailers investing in eco-friendly materials and production methods.

Why is sustainable fashion so expensive? ›

They rely on small-scale productions. Fast fashion also cuts costs by mass-producing clothes without worrying about potential waste. Another reason why sustainable fashion is so expensive is… these brands don't do that! They reduce waste by investing in small-scale production lines or made-to-order options.

What are the goals of sustainable fashion brands? ›

The objective of sustainable fashion is to make consumers aware of the use and production of clothing, complying with criteria of environmental and social sustainability.

What are the three pillars of sustainability in fashion? ›

So what is sustainable fashion? Well, Sustainability, in general, is built on three pillars: Economic development, social development, and environmental protection. These three pillars are all about creating growth and development in a way that protects the earth and the people on it.

How sustainable is fast fashion? ›

Critics assert that fast fashion apparel cannot be sustainable by its very nature. The poor quality of the material makes it hard to recycle, even if the brands commit to recycling a certain percentage of used or unsold products.

How do you practice sustainability in fashion? ›

Purchasing vintage clothing, thrifting, sharing, swapping, and renting clothes are all excellent examples of environmentally friendly fashion. Another example of sustainable fashion is mending and repairing your clothes rather than throwing them away. Donating or reselling unwanted items are also sustainable practices.

What is the opposite of sustainable fashion? ›

Slow fashion focuses on brand practices and consumer's shopping habits. Its aim is specifically targeted at reducing consumption and production. Whereas, sustainable fashion utilizes the most sustainable methods and materials possible in all stages of a product's life cycle.

Is Zara sustainable or fast fashion? ›

Let's zoom in on Zara's sustainability issues. It's no secret that Zara is one of the largest fast-fashion brands on the planet. And much like all fast fashion's major players, the way they are treating their workers in the supply chain is as terrifying as their blatant environmental negligence.

Why brands are not sustainable? ›

Brands are now making clothes at a fraction of the price they used to. As a result, consumers can update their wardrobes very quickly and affordably. But this over-consumption of cheaply-made clothes is leading to the huge growth of textile waste, pollution, and the depletion of natural resources.

Is slow fashion always sustainable? ›

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SLOW FASHION? With slower production schedules, smaller collections, zero waste designs, and the use of sustainable materials, Slow Fashion brands aim to reduce the textile waste and the consequent pollution.

What is the negative side of sustainable fashion? ›

Supply chain transparency: Some sustainable fashion brands may not have fully transparent supply chains, which can make it difficult for consumers to know exactly where and how their clothes were made.

How wasteful is fast fashion? ›

Each wash and dry cycle, especially the latter, sheds microfilaments that move through our sewage systems and end up in waterways. It is estimated that half a million tons of these contaminants reach the ocean each year. That's the equivalent to the plastic pollution of more than 50 billion bottles.

Why luxury brands are not sustainable? ›

Here's the thing: luxury brands can be sustainable, but they're not automatically so just because they have higher price tags. As we've seen, some of them rely on extremely polluting synthetic materials, and some others are still using sweatshop-style factories.

What age group is most interested in sustainable fashion? ›

Gen Z (51 percent) and Millennials (42 percent) also want brands to use eco-friendly business practices. “Gen Z and Millennials want brands to help them be environmentally responsible when shopping. Over a third tell us they seek out eco-friendly products already,” the YPulse report states.

Is Zara becoming more sustainable? ›

In 2022, Zara promised to use 100% renewable energy in their own operations. In 2023 they promise to eliminate single-use plastics for customers. By 2025 they plan to introduce more sustainable 100% linen and sustainable or recycled polyester. By 2040 they promise to have zero net emissions.

How big is the sustainability fashion market? ›

The ethical fashion market reached a value of nearly $7,548.2 million in 2022, having grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% since 2017. The market is expected to grow from $7,548.2 million in 2022 to $11,122.2 million in 2027 at a rate 8.1%.

Are people willing to pay more for sustainable fashion? ›

Less than half of consumers are willing to pay a premium on a product based on its perceived sustainability credentials, with a new global survey of shoppers finding that less are inclined to shop sustainably as they grapple with the cost-of-living crisis.

Is sustainability an oxymoron? ›

Unfortunately, “sustainable development,” as advocated by most natural, social, and environmental scientists, is an oxymoron.

Is sustainability a hot topic? ›

Verdict. Sustainability is a topic that has seen a lot of mileage, as well as targets created, revised, reviewed, and re-advertised. The general consensus from both global governments and industries, is that wore work has to be done – and there is no time to sit back and wait to see what comes next.

Is ESG the buzzword? ›

The corporate buzzword that many boardrooms around the country are talking about is ESG (environmental, social and governance) frameworks. Customers, investors and stakeholders demand not only transparency into business practices but proactive plans of action that protect and safeguard ethical standards.

What is a better word for sustainability? ›

synonyms for sustainable

On this page you'll find 30 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to sustainable, such as: continual, continuous, viable, feasible, unceasing, and green.

Is sustainability a paradox? ›

The sustainability paradox is related to how the internal dynamics of sustainability unfold – that is, how sustainability is understood, implemented and practiced by individuals within their organizations.

Is sustainability an illusion? ›

The idea of replacing dependency on aid with a one-time investment that leads to long-run sustainability is certainly ideologically attractive. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that financial sustainability has often been an illusion, and sometimes a costly one.

What is a sustainability metaphor? ›

According to the ecological footprint metaphor, sustainability requires that humans learn to. tread softly on the Earth by reducing their aggregate environmental impact (Princen, 2011).

Is sustainability a growing trend? ›

Sustainability has been top of mind for both food and beverage processors and consumers for many years. In 2023, sustainability will continue to be at the forefront of industry trends and innovations.

What are the 7 areas of sustainability? ›


Infrastructure Imperatives, Carbon Management, Green Energy, Circular Economy, Environment Conservation, Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency.

What are 3 issues that impact sustainability? ›

The list of issues surrounding our environment go on, but there are three major ones that affect the majority of them overall: global warming and climate change; water pollution and ocean acidification; and loss of biodiversity.

Is Nike an ESG company? ›

Nike was founded in 1964 and is based in Beaverton, Oregon.
Industry Comparison.
CompanyESG Risk RatingIndustry Rank
NIKE, Inc.19.6 Low134 out of 194
PUMA SE19.6 Low135 out of 194
Skechers U.S.A., Inc.24.5 Medium194 out of 194
2 more rows
Mar 29, 2023

Is Starbucks ESG? ›

Through our ESG efforts, we are working to modernize and transform the Starbucks experience in our stores and recreate an environment that is welcoming and safe for all — where we uplift one another with dignity, respect and kindness.

Why is ESG so popular? ›

Importance of ESG

It brings awareness to the different climate issues that are occurring and encourages businesses to adopt practices and policies that are better for the environment. For the social part of ESG, employees and shareholders are created equally, and their health and safety are considered.

What are three 3 terms used to describe sustainability? ›

The idea of sustainability is often broken down into three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people.

What are the three words of sustainability? ›

The figure at the top of this page suggests that there are three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection and social equity.

What are three words for sustainability? ›

Synonyms of sustainable
  • justifiable.
  • viable.
  • acceptable.
  • legitimate.
  • maintainable.
  • supportable.
  • defendable.
  • rational.


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