Championed through the gaze of the Internet’s fashion-conscious millenials, the slow fashion movement is not one to be taken lightly. Born from the ashes of fashion’s current trailblazing seasons pushed and produced at unmanageable rates, slow fashion is about realising the processes of fashion from weaving to stitching. As the sustainable fashion movement gains traction, the questions remains the same for those with furrowed brows – what is it about and why does it matter?

To be quite blunt, there are approximately 7.4 billion people in the world. If every person in the world owned five pieces of clothing that means there would be 37 billion items of clothing in the world. The population is always growing and it’s safe to say that most of us probably own more than five items of clothing throughout our lifetimes. Most of the clothes manufactured for mainstream clothing stores are not biodegradable; they are produced to sell quickly and pay cheaply, absorbing the hype of trends and dispelling them at discount proportions. With such an approach to the average garment, fashion has evolved to be ever-changing with seasons as people throw away last season’s trends as if the materials vanish into thin air.

The environmental footprint left by the fashion industry is a problem that can easily be fixed ­– albeit a current dreamscape ­– through sustainable fashion. Most t-shirts made from generic cotton require at least 150 grams of chemicals to make. Alongside the energy used to make this garment it is inevitable that it will continue to make-up the world’s landfill. While the design and production of clothing takes up space and resources from the environment through systematic demand, what we select to wear has a bigger impact on our environment than what we assume as the eco-system breaks down under the requirement for resources.

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“… But there’s a clear distinction: sustainable fashion is not just a movement for high fashion.”

There are a number of celebrities bringing the conversation about sustainable fashion into the realm of public discourse. At the 2016 Academy Awards Sophie Turner looked fabulous in an entirely sustainable look created by Galvan. Similarly, Emma Watson wore a Calvin Klein ensemble that was made from recycled plastic at the Met Gala. Calvin Klein also incorporated sustainable elements into garments made for Lupita Nyongo and Margot Robbie, leading the fashion world to question the realities of the industry. While Watson is a celebrity who has been an avid supporter of the sustainable fashion movement since 2015, there are many local designers, labels and creatives continuing to push the boundaries of their own handcrafted designs. In light of this, the conversations from high profile events are clearly helping to spread the message and promote the importance of the movement, but there’s a clear distinction: sustainable fashion is not just a movement for high fashion.

Anyone can take part in the sustainable fashion movement by re-using or recycling materials, otherwise called upcycling. Upcycling refers to the re-imagining old clothing or material into new products of better quality and value. Everyone is able to up-cycle old clothes themselves or alternatively, thrift stores and charity shops often boast a number of hidden gems. Using biodegradable material is another fantastic way to make clothes more sustainable from their inception, and is proving much easier than it is made out to be, with materials such as bamboo, organic cotton and industrial hemp made from naturally-sourced products that don’t contain any synthetic components.

Sustainable fashion is beginning to make its mark on the world, and as it continues to slowly stich itself into mainstream culture, the environmental impact of what we buy and wear it becoming increasingly evident. Over the next few weeks I’ll be chatting with a number of companies and individuals who strive to make sustainable fashion more accessible to the wider Australian public. Watch this space to learn more about the growing fashion phenomenon of sustainable fashion.