Sustainable Fashion; A Short Investment or The New Norm?

As of the late 2010s, sustainable fashion has become a central and popular conversation in digital fashion spaces. It is more than a trend or phase, it is a movement to encourage durable, responsible, and eco-friendly practices in fashion production and consumption. Since the 90s, fashion has acquired a new pace in production, consumption, and trend cycles.

As of the late 2010s, sustainable fashion has become a central and popular conversation in digital fashion spaces. It is more than a trend or phase, it is a movement to encourage durable, responsible, and eco-friendly practices in fashion production and consumption. Since the 90s, fashion has acquired a new pace in production, consumption, and trend cycles. All due to mass production and the entertainment industry’s push towards fashion-forward shows. Shows like Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Sex And The City, Pretty Little Liars, and many more. All of these shows were a global sensation. Character styling became more personalized and essential for a show’s success. While it is much more common now, it began during a period when the economy needed to revive consumers’ purchasing enthusiasm. All of the media produced was focused on young adults and teenagers of the time, motivating them to invest in fashion trends. Mass production helped with massively lowering production costs and keeping up with the demands of the time. It became rather common to copy high-end luxury designs and produce them with low-quality materials and sell them for 1/6th of the prices. Involvement of ever-changing trends made it necessary that clothes are not made to last but rather for a fashion statement and to keep up with changing interests of the customers.
Given the context, there were also environmentalists and activists raising concerns over the environmental impact of clothes. Right from the 90s and early 00s, animal rights activists protested against the use of leather by luxury fashion houses and the unethical sourcing of raw materials. But while these were just movements against animals and human rights, conversations about toxic waste generation, and being against the usage of synthetic and non-biodegradable threads or materials are relatively new.

Luxury brands from the get-go are very selective about their clientele and unintentionally have been practicing sustainability by creating only a few pieces to sell per design. This was unintentional because this was a marketing tactic. They can afford to mass-produce their designs but choose not to for majorly three reasons:

  1. They depend on craftsmen and artisans to make products; handmade products take time to be made
  2. They need to create an exclusive image for their brand; to keep the demand and price high
  3. The production cost of sourcing materials like genuine leather, organic cotton, and real silk is comparatively expensive

But what does sustainable fashion have to do with shoe brands or even a new company just wanting to fulfill customer demand? Think of sustainability as an investment for your brand’s overall image. Being mindful and open about your sourcing and labor practices already makes your brand more appealing to the younger audiences who specifically want to invest their time and money in sustainable fashion brands. They are willing to pay higher price points if it means that their clothes were made using honest practices and made to last. To understand more about how brand imagery, pricing, aesthetics, and overall how sustainable brands operate, we have put together a list of luxury fashion brands that are already way ahead in this movement.

  1. Burberry

    Established luxury brands like Burberry were one of the first few well-known luxury brands to switch to sustainable methods of production. They have vowed to become completely climate positive by 2040. It shows that even if brands have not completely gone eco-friendly; there are attempts to be more careful and responsible of the production processes. Burberry was a major part of the 2000s logo mania fashion. With thousands of dupes to resemble brand designs, they set themselves apart by including sustainable methods of production. Thus also creating new demand for their uniquely produced designs.

  2. Chole

    To preserve the creative and feminine vision of the brand’s founder Gaby Aghion, Chole as a brand has sprung into the direction of sustainable luxury fashion. Being a recognizable brand with the power to support artisans and additionally practice mindful production, they have managed to increase the usage of low-impact materials while generating lower amounts of waste. Their slow by consistent changes are regularly updated on their websites. By including not just fair sourcing practices, and including new practices and awareness but also creating platforms for better inclusivity in their brand.

  3. Gucci

    Gucci is the first brand that comes to anyone’s mind when they talk about luxury brands. It’s a household name and people still dream to purchase Gucci as a sign of their success.
    Despite the different changes that the brand has gone through since Maurizio Gucci and Tom Ford were the creative directors of the brand, and the departure of Alessandro Michele from Gucci the brand is undergoing changes. However, they have not given up on gradually becoming more sustainable. It is in the brand’s history to be more sustainable and durable. Which was also one of the primary reasons for its popularity in the 1950s long after Guccio Gucci founded it in the 1920s. Durability has always been at the center of Gucci’s ideas, and by including sustainable practices they might just get the classic makeover that everyone has been anticipating from the label.

  4. Lauren Manoogian

    While studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, Manoogian was fascinated by the production of textiles so she decided to dedicate her time to understanding the production of textiles. This lead her to start her brand which focuses on the idea of even textile production with handcrafted designs for ready-to-wear clothes and footwear. While sustainability is not at the forefront of the brand image, it is central to its “clean” and “effortless” image. To be wearing a piece of nature, to be comfortable outside the detach yourself from the stressful lives we lead. For Manoogian sustainability is a consequence rather than a conscious attempt.

  5. Nicholas K

    With a contemporary vision of including simple and functional designs with a classic color palette, Nicholas K as a brand has a set ideology of providing durable designs that are timeless and impactful. Run by siblings Nicholas and Christopher Kunz, whose vision of sustainable fashion is not limited to a marketing gimmick or a label but rather using sustainable practices as a foundational tool for their craft.

  6. Reformation

    First and foremost their designs incorporate regular and basic clothes that can be worn by a common man. Their products are way more affordable even for a one-time purchase as compared to other luxury brands. With relevant marketing and promotion of sustainable fashion, they have managed to become one of the most well-known sustainable brands. Given that their goal is to create a system of a circular material chain where no new materials need to be sourced for the production process. While that still means the involvement of factories for production, it also means raw material processing gets completely eradicated from their production process.

  7. Toms

    A truly exceptional brand from this list. One of the few for-profit brands, which means every profit they made they are invested in development programs. While it started to supply shoes in every developing nation for free. And while they are famous for selling their unique canvas slip-on shoes also known as Alpargata in Argentina. Most recently, they were mentioned in HBO’s Sex And The City Reboot series, And Just Like That… Where the infamous shoe collector, and a fictional influential fashionista, Carrie Bradshaw owned Toms as her only non-heel shoes. The way Toms interacts with sustainability is very different due to their initial mission. But taking ownership of environmental impact and taking measures to reduce them is the first step towards practicing sustainability.

The common trait all of the above-mentioned fashion brands have is that they source their products from local artisans, suppliers, and traditional methods of recycling materials. Thus creating a chain of an almost perfect sustainable supply chain. What they also have in common is the budget to overturn their business models to sustain local artisans and longer productions. The two main aspects of sustainability are production and supply. Consumers tend to over-purchase but given that consumer, excitement is created for economical and marketing purposes. As we shift towards a society that functions on essentialism and more informed consumers, adapting to their needs is of prime need. Shoe brands are very difficult and expensive ethically as for shoes to be durable, all-season, and sustainable requires leather. Which is not vegan and costs a lot of time and money. While we try to figure out new models of plow-cost low-cost sustainable cycles, making informed choices is the only option we are left with.

Category: blog

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