With buzz words like “organic”, “eco-friendly”, and “green” being tossed around like 5 cent coins in a busker’s hat, it’s no surprise clothing companies are jumping on the bandwagon and creating sustainable fashion. For once, we’re okay with this bandwagoning, because it means we get to wear ethical, non-toxic, and earth-friendly clothes that don’t suck. In fact, sustainable clothing is often made with a higher quality and better design than its fast fashion counterparts.
Put your green fashion vocab to the test and check out these commonly used terms in the sustainable fashion industry.
1. Organic clothing
One of the most popular sustainable fashion terms to look for is organic clothing; a general label that refers to clothes made without harmful chemicals, pesticides, or dyes—stuff that can be pretty irritating to most skin types. People are becoming increasingly conscious of what they put on their skin, and companies are responding to demand with a plethora of clothing lines that are both stylish and good for your body.
Terms like “easy care”, “wrinkle-resistant”, and “stain-resistant” can often mean that the fabric has been treated with harsh chemicals, so you definitely want to avoid those at all costs.
Pro tip: Make sure you check the label for an organic certification (such as GOTS) to shop with confidence.
2. Restored clothing
Another word to add to your ethical fashion dictionary is restored clothing; this is when companies take back used clothes to fix and restore them to help eliminate textile waste. Many companies will simply fix items you’ve purchased from them for a small fee or even at no cost, which means you can get extra years out of your clothes.
You’ll save yourself a ton of money over the years by not having to constantly buy new things, and you can feel good knowing that your old clothes aren’t cluttering up a landfill.
3. Recycled clothing
Recycled clothing is donated pieces to op-shops and thrift shop that are on-sold. It’s a pretty important part of reducing waste.
Fortunately, secondhand clothing is now in style, which makes thrift-shoppers both economically smart and on-trend. Plus, browsing secondhand stores is a blast—just ask Macklemore. If you’re patient and savvy, you might even find designer pieces at a tiny fraction of the cost; check out secondhand stores in upscale neighbourhoods for the best goods. If donated clothing isn’t wearable, it typically gets sent to recyclers to be broken down and reused into things like carpet padding, insulation, and rubberised playgrounds. The moral of the story? One man’s trash is another child’s playground.
Quick tip: Most sustainable fashion advocates will recommend you purchase second-hand clothing if you’re on a budget or if you prefer not to waste precious textiles resources.
4. Vegan fashion
You might consider yourself a vegan (kudos to you!), but your clothes and accessories might not be. Vegan fashion are garments and accessories that were made without the use of animal products, and this is just as important to the environment as your eating habits. The environmental impact of using animals for meat or fashion can be shocking, so it’s important we know exactly what we’re wearing. Leather is an obvious no-no, but you might not have thought about your down-filled coat, silk shirts, fur trimmings, cashmere scarf, suede shoes, or mohair wrap. There are plenty of other sustainable fabrics to use, so let’s all leave the cows and ducks alone.
Related Post: Struggles of Curating a Cruelty-Free & Vegan Wardrobe
5. Biodegradable clothing
You might have heard of biodegradable shampoo at the cottage, but what about biodegradable clothing? Now that’s something we can feel good about: returning natural fabrics to the earth where they belong! Biodegradable clothing are items made with natural textiles, like cotton, wool, and hemp, that can be broken down naturally by bacteria. Manufactured synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon, rayon, and spandex, can take up to 200 years to become fully biodegraded.
Fun fact: 100% cotton (organic cotton preferably of course!) is the most compostable fabric—it can fully decompose in a compost in as little as a week.
6. Ethical undergarments
Victoria’s got a secret, and it’s not good: even the savviest of sustainable fashionistas forget about the sustainability of their bras, underwear and socks. We often buy underwear that’s cheap, convenient, or cute, and forget completely about where it came from and where it’s going (spoiler alert: garbage island). Finding companies that offer affordable undergarments made from sustainable materials and is ethically produced (workers were paid fairly and treated well) is tough, but well worth the effort when you think about how many socks our dryers eat every year (but seriously, how do we lose so many?).
7. Renting clothes
The most exciting burgeoning sustainable fashion term-slash-trend is clothing rental. This is when companies offer designer clothes and dresses online for rent at a fraction of the cost, and it’s honestly life-changing. You get to constantly switch up your look, shop from a designer dress boutique, save a ton of dolla-dolla bills, and feel good about your carbon footprint. What more could a gal want?
Hannah Camidge writes for www.designerforum.com.au.