Conscious consumerism is shape-shifting the decade-old practices of the glamorous fashion and luxury sector. The hyper connectivity with social media networking platforms offers users an instant update on the adverse environmental impact of fast fashion. When we look at both the fashion and luxury sectors, they have critical issues around sustainability and ethical practices. The brands bear an immense responsibility for the rising carbon emissions and chemical runoff across the world. Making fashion one of the largest polluters in the world. Suggesting how significantly the sector needs a change and nudge in the right direction.
Globally, several organizations are raising their voice to advocate for a sustainable fashion sector. These organizations are focused in one country or spread globally with one clear agenda, advocacy for sustainable fashion.
What do these organizations do?
They are a collective of key players in the market. Stakeholders like researchers, scientists, educators, policymakers, designers, students, marketers, and consumers. They aim to gather, discuss, and build informative and actionable campaigns to improve the fashion and luxury sector practices. Offering businesses, designers, policymakers, and consumers key services, advice, strategy, information, and recommendations to build a fundamental base and growth for sustainable fashion.
What is their aim?
They aim to build a circular fashion ecosystem. One that can sustain itself within its existing resources and replenish the new resources it utilizes. It has a two-fold aim:
a. One for the producers: They want designers and brands to think from farm to scrap – where the yarn comes from, what raw materials are used, and the final decomposition process of the finished product.
b. Two for the consumer: They aim for the consumers to build sustainable consumption patterns. Asking questions to brands like – Is the product sustainable? Was a fair wage paid for it?
And asking questions to themselves – Do I really need this? The consumer connection is deeper; they want consumers to build recycling and upcycling habits to shape sustainable wardrobes.
Organization leading advocacy for sustainable fashion
A recently passed legislation in the European Union has highlighted the impact of lobbying by global sustainable advocacy organizations. A few days ago, the European Parliament passed a new legislation that aims to curb greenwashing practices by fashion businesses. A Forbes article explains the new directive to empower consumers that will ‘ban exaggerated and unfounded claims relating to a company’s environmentally friendly actions, inclusion carbon neutral claims.’
Here are some of the leading organizations one must follow to stay updated on sustainable fashion advocacy:
a. Fashion Revolution : Started in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution has been advocating for a clean, fair, and just fashion sector for 10 years. Their mission is spread across 70+ global nations. With major campaigns like:
o #WhoMademyClothes and #WhoMadeMyFabric – Aiming for the consumer to ask their brands who is behind a garment. Shedding light on garment worker conditions and fair wages.
o #Haulternative – Aiming to build alternative solutions to the shopping hauls. Like mending your garments, writing a love letter to your garment, swap-not-shop before you buy, renting, and more.
o #LovedClothesLast – An ode to how caring for your garments makes them last longer. And re-wearing is a revolutionary act.
o Fashion Transparency Index – An annual index that brands like H&M partake in to reflect how they produce and bring to the consumer more information and light on their supply chains.
‘The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.’
– Orsola Castro, Co-founder, Fashion Revolution.
b. Fashion for Good : Founded in 2017, Fashion for Good is a global initiative to reimage the fashion sector with sustainable innovation. From what is designed to, how it is made, and how it is worn and re-used. They have a transformative Innovative Platform to support sustainable start-ups and concepts to help them grow and scale.
The organization also makes efforts to invest in research in education and re-imagination of how consumers can make sustainable fashion choices. They are focused on transforming the fashion and luxury sectors’ liner model approach of ‘take-make-waste’ to a circular ecosystem and good fashion approach. Bringing out good qualities of the fashion sector like regenerative and restorative.
Fashion for Good also has the world’s first innovative Sustainable Fashion Museum in the Netherlands, for visitors to learn about the past, present, and future of technology in the fashion sector. Free of cost.
“The Five Goods represent an aspirational framework we can all use to work towards a world in which we do not simply take, make, waste, but rather take, make, renew, restore.”
– William McDonough, Fashion for Good co-founder
c. Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) : Started in 2011, the SAC is an amalgamation of many organizations. It’s a leading alliance for apparel, footwear, and textiles sustainable production.
The coalition is known for its Higg Index. An index that offers a standardized value chain measurement set of tools for all industry participants. Its goal is that this fashion industry gives more than it takes. The index empowers fashion retailers to assess their environmental impact and make necessary changes. To encourage brands to build sustainable solutions and ethical practices for workers. And overall welfare of the local community and the environment.
d. United National Alliance for Sustainable Fashion (UNASF) : Started in 2019, UNASF is curated to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a collaborative approach in the fashion sector. It works to promote projects and support coordination between the various UN bodies working in fashion. Ensuring that the fashion value chain helps in achieving UN SDG targets. This value chain includes the production of raw materials used in fashion, manufacturing processes, distribution, consumption, and disposal.
The organization plays a critical role in empowering sustainability across production cycles, for garment workers, and for the environment. UNASF initiative is a powerful global alliance that is building fashion into a driver of UN SDG implementation in the sector.
e. Remake : It’s a global advocacy organization, founded by Ayesha Barenblat. It runs on the core values of:
o Radical Collaboration
o Education, and
They promote and advocate for uniting change makers to fight for human rights and climate justice in the clothing industry. The active campaigns for workers include Bangladesh Minimum Wage, Nike Wage Theft, The Pakistan Accord, and others. They also run the #NoNewClothes campaign and have published the Fashion Accountability Report in 2022.
Other organizations to follow are the Slow Fashion Movement, Fair Trade, Better Cotton Initiative, Global Fashion Agenda, and the like.
These organizations overall have the following focus:
a. The fashion -climate connect: Lower the carbon emission in the fashion sector.
b. Replenish the use of use of new resources: Reduce and or eliminate deforestation for fashion.
c. Upcycle and recycle: Promote healthy practices in consumers that lead to a circular fashion sector.
d. Save water and energy: Empower the handloom sector and artisans working with hands offering fashion sector resilient solutions to lower energy consumption and water waste.
e. Labour rights demands – fair wages and fair working conditions. ‘No one should die for fashion’ – Ruth MacGlip
They are here to empower garment workers, scale green solutions adoptions across the sector, and encourage more circular practices. From production to consumption and disposal, these organizations aim to bring in a fundamental shift in how to build a thriving fashion sector that we can all love.