Slow fashion and sustainability – the future of clothing and textile

Many of us often shop in the clothing stores of shopping centres, and large discounts on clothing not only entice but also delight us. Rarely we, when measuring a garment, think about how that garment was made and that we support a large fast fashion industry with our purchase. Meanwhile, fast fashion has become one of the 21st century sustainability and ecological issue.

This produces a difficult to comprehend number of new garments every year, as many as 80 billion (400% more than two decades ago). Most of these clothes quickly end up in landfills, when they could be recycled or best, used further. Much of such clothing is being burnt, thus emitting huge amounts of pollutants into the air. The cotton industry uses a lot of fresh water.

The modern world wants less pollution, more responsible consumption and a contribution to climate change decreasing. Clothing fashion and the entire industry, as one of the major polluters, are also facing new challenges. It is wanted to find a way to change clothing manufacturers, to encourage people to dress in clothes by polluting the nature less. This is why the term “Sustainable Fashion” is followed by initiatives on how the whole clothing industry can change, contribute and what to choose for the consumer who understands the importance of sustainable fashion and can contribute to the care of our land.

The so-called “slow”, or in other words, sustainable fashion is a business model as opposed to fast fashion. Sustainable fashion includes not only the prolonged wearing of existing clothing, but also water, energy, nature, human rights and the social aspects of fashion design processes. Responsibility for sustainable fashion must be taken not only by consumers, but also by all other market participants – politicians, textile and fashion industries, clothing retailers, brands.

Sustainable fashion is not only a trend but also a benefit. Many modern clothing designers try to hang on to the principles of sustainable fashion and, althought with a small part contribute to a cleaner and more beautiful world in every sense.

One of the global initiatives aimed at the latter is the “Fashion Revolution”. It is a voluntary platform, where all the figures from designers to tailors, involved in fashion design processes, are invited to join.

How specific fashion designers and all the textile industry can take positive actions towards sustainable fashion is shown by the „Detox My Fashion“ campaign ran by the international organization „Greenpeace“ since 2011. The aim of the campaign is to put an end on pouring the toxic textile waste into nature. Currently, 80 companies have joined it, including the Lithuanian company „Utenos Trikotažas“. All of them are committed on taking actions to reduce their toxic waste to zero.

For fashion consumers – i.e. for all of us, it is important to critically evaluate the entire life cycle of a product, from its extraction to its disposal. It’s important not to be passive and ask questions: how did the clothing I was wearing came to me? Who made it? Under what conditions? From what materials? What will happen to it when I’ll no longer need it? It is also important to pay attention to the complexity of the ecological and social measures taken by the clothing manufacturer – is it a one time initiative or a sincere effort to change and minimize the negative impact on the environment? Consumers need to understand the scope and effectiveness of brand declared initiatives.

Because of this reason Cluster LATIA Export Development is developing an apparel and textile product line to represent itself in foreign countries. The uniting factor of the products will be keywords: sustainable, functional, ergonomic. Production is targeted to reach major apparel and textile purchasers and buyers in key foreing countries in Europe, USA and China.