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The sustainable fashion trend

Sustainable fashion is on the rise. The ethical fashion industry is currently worth over $6.35 billion and is predicted to almost triple in less than a decade. More and more ethical labels are being created, and we see many fast fashion brands like SHEIN & H&M jumping on the responsible fashion bandwagon and launching ‘eco’ collections.

Now you might be wondering: "what are these ‘conscious’ collections exactly? Are they sustainable? A Lets take a look!

Defining ‘eco-friendly’ collections

‘Eco-friendly’ collections are simply clothing ranges launched by fashion retailers that are deemed to be more ‘ethical and sustainable than the rest of the brand’s line. These lines are usually called ‘conscious’, ‘eco’, ‘committed’, ‘renew’, ‘more sustainable’ and other ‘green’ terms.

But all that glitters is not green—these so-called ‘eco’ collections are far from perfect.

Sustainable, but according to whom?

One of the issues with these ‘eco’ collections is the lack of consensus around what ‘sustainable and ethical means. The lack of a shared understanding and clear rules and regulations allows fast fashion brands to market themselves as sustainable in a way that helps them attract shoppers and maximize their profit. For instance, SHEIN states that when selecting materials, it “does its best to source recycled fabric, such as recycled polyester.” Of the 52,000 dresses currently listed on the site, just 64 are said to be made from recycled polyester.

Just because it's organic cotton doesn't make it sustainable

Greenwashing

Let’s cut to the chase—because of the lack of consensus around what being ‘sustainable’ requires, these ‘sustainable’ ranges can be used for greenwashing, a marketing tactic used to portray an organisation’s products, activities, or policies as environmentally friendly when they’re anything but.

Labels like H&M, ASOS, SHEIN and M&S are making misleading claims. Released by the nonprofit Changing Markets Foundation, the new report finds as many as 59% of all green claims by European and U.K. fashion brands are misleading.

One of the biggest shocks came from H&M’s Conscious Collection, which was found to contain a higher proportion of synthetic fibres than its fast-fashion line. While the former contained 72%, the latter had 61%.

Conclusion: It’s still fast fashion

No matter the size of the ‘green’ collections, these brands still promote an unhealthy and unsustainable business model—fast fashion. H&M, for example, markets its Conscious collection as “the shortcut to sustainable choices,” when in fact, there is no shortcut to sustainability. Besides H&M as many as 96% of the company’s claims flouted competition and market guidelines in one way or another.

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