YOUR BRAND IS NOT ECOLOGICAL.
BUT IT (PROBABLY) IS ECO-FRIENDLY.
The first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired in September 1990. In it, Hilary Banks, a fashion icon of her decade, upon introduction talks about air pollution and climate change, contradicting the importance of it in the very next sentence – we’re going to protest air pollution, but then have a big bonfire on the beach later. While arguably a bit ahead of her time (little did she know that air pollution would become an even bigger problem in the decades to come), what she probably wasn’t aware of was just how problematic fashion, which she loved so much, would become overtime. Non-degradable materials are piling up at dump sites creating wastelands of materials, toxic dyes seeping into soil (and our skins, let’s be real) and synthetic fibres adding to the (micro)plastic problematic.
As more people become concerned for the future of our planet and what we’ll leave behind for the generations to come, the awareness of fashion being one of the biggest pollutants in the world is spreading like wildfire. Trends come and go faster than ever before, changing not only with every season, but with every month, sometimes even week as new items are added to shops and modelled on social media as the latest must haves.
Many people are revolting against fast fashion stores by looking into sustainable brands and local designers for their future purchases. Brands, who often label themselves and their products as ecological. Let’s get one thing straight: your brand is not ecological. It is (probably) eco-friendly. Ecology is a branch of biology. It studies how organisms interact with their biotic and abiotic surroundings i.e. their environment. For something to be ‘ecological’ it must relate to or be concerned with ‘the relation of living organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings’. Your brand is (at best) green, eco-friendly, environmentally conscious or sustainable, the latter being the most popular of the terms. But even sustainability can’t always be at one hundred percent. In order to be sustainable as best as you can be in this day and age, you need to be transparent. Honesty is the best policy.
Retailers have picked up on the ‘trend’ and more often than not, consumers are subject to greenwashing. It’s amazing to have a sustainability project and upcycled materials and organic cotton, now more precious than gold. But are you giving your costumers all the nitty gritty details? How can you expect them to be conscious of what they wear and how much they consume, when you’re not telling them what they need to hear? Organic cotton is great and all but how much water is used for its production, where did you ship it from and how much were the workers paid? And even if you check out the production boxes, are you going to ship your product wrapped up in plastic because other options are too expensive, is it going to fly out by plane and thus contribute to air pollution? And are you willing to give your costumer instructions on how they should treat the garment for it to be completely sustainable?
In the end it boils down to this: having the balls to risk a drop in your sales due to not being one hundred percent sustainable but telling it exactly how it is and what steps you’re taking towards reaching the end goal. It’s no small feat in a world ruled by money and power but maybe even the small measures taken in order to keep it real can one day result in something good, if not great.
Graphic Design: Ana Žnidaršič