Reported by: Bianca van Nieuwenhuizen

Let me tell you what eco-fashion/slow fashion/ethical fashion/sustainable fashion is before we start with how to tell if your clothes are sustainable or not.

Eco-Fashion: refers to how the garment impacts the environment.

Image: China Daily / This is a picture of factories/manufacturers polluting the rivers in China.

Slow Fashion: addresses slowing down the fashion seasons and refers to increasing the longevity of our clothing.

Image: BBC Earth / This is a picture of a clothing landfill that was created by all the “unwanted clothing” that people throw away because they buy more and more fast-fashion clothing items.

Ethical Fashion: addresses the ethical treatment, pay, and occupational health standards of garment workers and the effect that the making of the garment has on the community it is made in.

Image: The Norwich Radical / This is a picture of the brand Boohoo’s factory workers.

Sustainable Fashion: the umbrella term that can be used to encompass all of the other terms and may change and shift with time.

Image: Lyst / These are keywords that describe what sustainable fashion is.

Now that you know what sustainable fashion is, let me tell you about some ways that you can tell if your clothes are sustainable or not.

Check the Label:

The label will tell you how the product is made and what its environmental impact might be.

The label will tell you what fabric/fibres were used to make the garment, wat type of dye was used, where it was made etc.

Sustainable materials/fabrics/fibres:

  • recycled materials
  • certified materials
  • organic cotton, hemp, tencel, linen, & modal are not that harsh on the environment
  • “pure” 100% materials
  • mixed materials

Fabric Dyes:

materials that have been naturally dyed, without toxic inks

Where it is made:

Are the garments ethically sourced and are the workers working in proper conditions with proper payment?

Marks of approval from formal standards and organizations:

These organizations identify, analyse, and label the relative sustainability of different products.

Are your clothes second-hand/vintage/thrifted and or upcycled?

If you have answered yes to this question, then your/those clothes are indeed sustainable.

I hope that I learned everyone something new with my tips on how to know if your clothes are sustainable or not, and that you will think and look twice before you just buy a clothing item.

– Bianca is a student at North West School of Design.