Pressure and lobby the fashion industry to make long-lasting, ethically made, regeneratively sourced clothing.
The fast fashion industry is inherently degenerative. The combined emissions for the clothing and footwear industry are roughly 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Its wider waste footprint is even larger. Rapid change is needed throughout the supply chain, from the farms that produce the fibers, to production lines and individual consumer behavior.
Join the slow fashion movement. Buy less and wear more. While people interpret slow fashion differently, the key principles include thoughtfulness, minimalism, localization, and endurance. You can learn how to best care for your existing wardrobe by reading clothing labels. You can sign the Slow Fashion Season 2021 pledge, consider switching to a capsule wardrobe, or only supporting businesses with slow fashion practices.
Do less laundry, less often. The washing of clothes is connected to the plastic pollution crisis in our waterways, a high proportion of residential CO2 emissions, and also wears clothing out faster. Refer to this guide on responsible laundry to make some easy switches with detergents and laundry settings depending on what is suitable for the climate you live in.
Buy second hand clothing. Shopping second hand clothing is one of the most ethical and sustainable ways to add to your wardrobe. It’s easier than ever to shop online through consignment-store websites. You can also support physical businesses by visiting local thrift stores.
Swap clothes. Exchange your unwanted clothes for new garments or, sometimes money or in-store currencies. Swap Society is one such organization leading the way with swaps in the U.S. You can also organize your own physical clothing swap in your community.
Rent your wardrobe. A growing number of businesses allow you to rent clothes, especially for occasions when you might only wear those clothes once. You can save wardrobe space, money, and even experiment with new looks.
Learn to repair or upcycle clothing. Instead of disposing of clothing at first sign of a little wear and tear, consider repairing fashion items, or upcycle them into new items once beyond repair. Here is a guide to mending common clothing problems that can be repaired at home.
Donate or resell unwanted clothing. Instead of throwing out unwanted clothing, consider what the next best options are. You can refer to this helpful guide to understand when it might be possible to sell or donate unwanted clothing.
If you must buy new, buy natural fiber clothing. Choose clothes made with 100 percent natural fiber. These include cotton, hemp, linen, silk, wool, and cashmere. Avoid synthetic fibers which are derived from virgin plastic, whose microplastics end up in our water bodies and in our air. Aim to buy clothes made locally.
Be a regenerative influencer. Social media influencers play a significant role in normalizing a consumption culture and keeping fast fashion thriving. If you are someone with a platform, lead by example.
Grow regenerative fibers. By using regenerative agricultural practices, farmers can grow natural fibers such as organic cotton and hemp without excessive or any fertilizers and pesticides, and ensure workers’ health and safety.
Be transparent about your business practices. Disclose information about your purchasing practices, the people involved in the supply chain, and the materials and their environmental impacts in all products. This includes reporting your manufacturers, processing facilities, textile production sites, and producers. You can use Fashion Revolution’s brand policies and commitments guide (p.28) to report clearly about your supply chain and tools like the Higgs Product Tool to understand the impacts of different materials and life-cycle analyses.
Ensure livable wages and fair labor practices for your workers. Workers, not just within the company but also those of suppliers within the supply chain, should be guaranteed living wages, clear working hours, and safe working conditions. Further, companies should ensure that no child or forced labor is used along their supply chain, and allow garment workers to have registered unions. You can refer to Fair Wear’s internationally recognized code of labor practices as a guide.
Participate in the Textile Exchange’s Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark (CFMB) program. Take part in the peer-to-peer comparison initiative and receive a digital scorecard to share with stakeholders. The findings can be used to build a stronger fiber-and-materials strategy and contribute to alignment on climate targets.
Take responsibility for textile waste. Many fast fashion retail giants overproduce clothing and dump deadstock into noncompeting markets or sometimes even destroy it. Companies can produce fewer garments over fewer seasons, make more responsible orders, and restructure supply chains to pass along excess to other designers and brands. For example, LVMH has launched an online market platform to sell off its deadstock high-end fabrics.
Decarbonize your supply chain. Coal-fired supply chains, synthetic materials made of fossil fuels and a sprawled global supply chain are some key factors resulting in high emissions in the sector. This Stand Earth report identifies five critical focus areas to assess the decarbonization of fashion supply chains. These include ambitious emissions targets, renewable energy across the supply chain, renewable energy advocacy, low carbon and long-lasting materials, and greener shipping.
Offer repair and recycling services. Following organizations like Patagonia, instead of encouraging a culture of disposability, offer repair services for your merchandise at their outlets. Offer a collection bin for clothing at the end of its life cycle for recycling.
Mandate transparency in business supply chains. Most clothing companies, especially those that follow fast fashion supply chains, lack transparency around production processes and suppliers. There are several questions that clothing brands can be asked to report on about their business practices.
Legislate the fashion industry. While exact legislation would depend on the country, implement policies that are aligned with this set of recommendations drafted by the Environmental Audit Committee (UK). These include laws, reforms, and taxes to account for stronger labor practices, environmental costs, and textile waste.
Appoint a minister of fashion. Many have called for the fashion industry to be regulated just like other high-emission industries, such as oil or agriculture. In France, Brune Poirson, one of the three secretaries of state within the ministry of ecological and inclusive transition has championed legislation banning brands from destroying over $700 million of goods and drafted a zero-waste law that makes mandatory washing machine filters that prevent microplastic leaching.
While many companies have fast fashion business models, here are the fast fashion companies with the highest revenues. They need to hear from you loud and clear. Their business model is breaking the planet.
Zara: The chairman and founder is Amancio Ortega. His foundation can be contacted at +34 981 18 55 96.
H&M: Stefan Persson is the owner of the company. His foundation can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNIQLO: Tadashi Yanai is the founder and president of Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo. While no public email is listed, he can be contacted through the Uniqlo customer service platform.
Fashion Nova: The CEO is Richard Saghian and his email is email@example.com.
Shein: Chris Xu is the CEO. There is no publicly listed email for his office, but messages could be sent through the SHEIN customer service page.
Forever 21: Danielle Kulle is the CEO and his LinkedIn page is here.
Regenerative Clothing Brands
Brands rated highly on Goodonyou.eco
Remake’s Approved List
35 Ethical and Sustainable Clothing Brands (USA, Europe, Canada)
Project Cece (UK)
Zou Xou (Argentina)
La Réunion (NY, USA)
Organizations and Movements
Fashion Revolution (Global)
Clean Clothes Campaign (Global)
Remake (#PayUp Movement) (Global)
Awaj Foundation (Bangladesh): grassroots labor rights NGO for garment workers
Fashion Rebellion (UK): teaches consumers to sew, upcycle, repair, and rewear clothes
XR Fashion Action (Global): takes direct actions against the fashion industry
Lablaco (Global): blockchain encrypted technology that provides transparency on any garment from the beginning to the end of the supply chain
Green Is the New Black (Global)
Custom Collaborative (Global): trains, mentors, and advocates for and with low to no-income and immigrant women to build the skills necessary to achieve economic success in the sustainable fashion industry and broader society
Fair Wear (Netherlands/Global): focuses on the right of garment workers to safe, dignified, and properly paid employment
The Garment Worker Center (LA, USA)
Fibershed (California, USA)
Labour behind the label (UK): campaign for garment workers’ rights worldwide
People / Leaders / Researchers
Cameron Russel (model/activist)
Aja Barber (writer/stylist/activist)
Aditi Mayer (decolonial fashion writer)
Lindsay Rose Medoff (CEO & Designer)
Fashionscapes: A Circular Economy by Livia Firth
The True Cost (Netflix documentary)
Fiber Visions by Fibershed
The Problem with Fast Fashion by Teen Vogue
The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion by Patriot Act
Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters by Dana Thomas
Earth Logic: Fashion Action Research Plan by Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham
The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton by Alden Wicker
Consumed by Aja Barber
Some of the Favorite Greenwashing Tactics of Clothing Companies by Christine Ro
Good Ancestor Podcast: Aja Barber on Sustainable Fashion
To Clothing Brands
What practices are in place to ensure workers receive fair wages, have safe working conditions, and are treated with dignity?
Are your clothes made with fibers that are recycled or sourced from organic/regenerative growers?
Does your brand challenge fast fashion practices by producing high-quality and durable clothing?
Do you prioritize slow and low-carbon shipping methods (e.g. ground/boat) over aviation?
Does your brand commit to becoming regenerative by creating more life than it is removing from the environment?
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