Why is Sustainable Fashion not yet Inclusive?
The aim of writing this article is to talk about the ongoing trend of sustainable clothing. Despite sustainability being in a positive image for so many reasons, there are still major factors that are responsible for why we can say that sustainable fashion has a long way to be called “Inclusive”. The working of sustainable brands also makes us interrogate, how relevant it is to call them “sustainable” if it is not accessible to all.
Why is Sustainable Fashion not yet Inclusive?
“Sustainable” clothing, is a trend that has become way too popular these days. Has it been able to make a significant change in the fashion industry so far?
The rise of sustainable fashion has been at its peak, more than ever before, especially the role that small brands play to make the fashion industry green. We are connected worldwide through various social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
These giant platforms do not solely share information regarding the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and make people aware of the situation, but also play a significant role in determining the pace of the upcoming fashion growth/trend. However, when we talk about “Sustainable Fashion” there is still a long way for it to be called inclusive.
According to the fashion transparency index, many brands do not have a transparent relationship in the way they function. It applies even to well-established companies.
If there are no brands that are pure and transparent about their process of manufacturing, do you think sustainable fashion could even exist? Another way
Sustainability is still far from reaching inclusivity. The primary reason for this is its oneness. It means that most sustainable brands do not follow the complete sustainable criteria. Their target is just one specific thing, be it their capsule collection, high-quality leather products, sharing a powerful message, etc. which seem to fulfill their principles of being sustainable. Nevertheless, do you think it’s acceptable for a brand to conform to the limited ethics of sustainability, so as to fall under the sustainable realm, to call their whole brand Sustainable?
What is Inclusivity in Sustainable Fashion?
Inclusivity in simple terms means – the practice of including all irrespective of their size, race, gender, class, culture, or status. In Fashion, it applies to providing products and services that are accessible to everyone without any discrimination.
Inclusivity is indeed a major challenge for the Fashion Industry. Since Fashion has a reputation of being “non-inclusive”, it is a big hurdle that lies in front of all those initiatives that try to make fashion comprehensive. Sustainability is one of them. Although sustainable practices have been followed for almost a decade now, there are still so many factors that restrict ‘slow fashion from being inclusive. An article shared by Fashion Revolution about whether or not Inclusivity is part of sustainable spectra can give more clarity on this subject.
Factors holding sustainable fashion from becoming inclusive
Sustainability is considered to be a slow-moving practice. Thus, it is likely for it to take a long time to make a significant change in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, people might have come up with some interesting ideas, but their contribution is still considered negligible at this time.
Another factor that makes sustainable fashion not widely acceptable is consumers being ignorant of the benefits of sustainable practices and the exorbitant prices at which these products are sold. Therefore, it does not have numerous buyers and leaves sustainable product consumers with limited options.
The cost of manufacturing sustainable clothing is high. Since these materials are challenging to process and require a good amount of time, labor, and high-end resources. Thus, it is their cost price, which is an enormous challenge to overcome. With the rise in demand for organic clothing/sustainability to create a positive impact or at least try to minimize harm to the environment, it has become a very crucial topic to focus our attention on.
One of the significant problems that the growth of sustainable fashion/Organic fashion faces is limited market coverage. [add secondary research/facts here] We are all aware that most sustainable brands have high pricing, limited stock, and less variety in their collection, therefore it is not affordable to all classes of people. In order to increase the supply and demand rate, these areas should be key focus points.
When it comes to size and fit, even well-established premium sustainable brands do not provide that freedom of choice many times, thus lacking inclusivity. For example: when we talk about makeup brands, the major issue is the lack of dark or extra light tones of the foundation. Similarly, in clothing lines, a lot of brands do not offer plus-size or the right-fit clothing, they call themselves organic and sustainable but lack one of the main inclusivity factors.
If inclusivity is an underpinning factor for determining sustainability, is there even a single brand in the world that can call itself sustainable?
If we start contemplating such factors, there will be no brand left to be called sustainable. As the phrase goes, nothing is perfect; it is also applied to sustainability. What can be done is the steps we can take towards achieving it. The brands must focus on their working ethics, and on the extent to which they are considering their customers’ needs with the least harm to the environment.
However, it is also true that the demand for sustainability will increase progressively in the coming future. It will not just be limited to clothing but also the way we live or consume various other products. The initiative taken
How to make sustainable fashion inclusive?
The fundamental aspect of a problem is finding a solution for it. Hence, it is important to ask, how to make sustainable fashion inclusive. It is one of the most underrated yet essential topics that need to be discussed and for us to be able to learn that we need to identify the major problems occurring in sustainability that prevent it from becoming inclusive.
There are no fixed rules or a definitive path made to determine when and how a brand is to be called a sustainable or an organic brand. However, some substantial qualities that make a brand come under the umbrella of sustainability are the ones that follow inclusivity as well.
- One of the most important things to begin is by accepting the fact that no brand can ever call itself 100% sustainable. No matter how organic their products and services are, they are indirectly or directly causing harm to the environment.
- Sustainability is not just in the process, it is the brand image we create, the value we offer, and how a brand merchandises. Therefore, sustainability and ethics go hand in hand.
- We can only be sustainable when we are equal. Equality in terms of the price points as well as its market distribution.
- Inclusivity comes from empathizing with the consumers and thinking about their needs as well.
- Focusing on the process is essential The process of manufacturing any goods tends to decide the trajectory to which extent the brand is sustainable or not.
- Transparency is key to bringing loyal customers. The more the brand makes its brand image clear to its customers, the more loyal consumers they are likely to get.
The lack of the above major aspects hinders the growth of sustainability in the fashion industry. It is also an individual duty to become more conscious and promote the growth of such brands that are trying to make a better change in the environment. It is our duty as a customer to become more aware and ask the brand for transparency. Asking for this is our basic consumer right and we must not be held back under any circumstances.
A few steps to consider in making a sustainable approach to consumption
- Be conscious: Becoming a conscious customer is the first step we as a customer can take towards making a brand sustainable.
- Remember 3Rs: Reuse, reduce and recycle can also be a good way to become sustainable.
- Know your rights: As a loyal customer of a brand, you have an absolute right to demand the brand be more transparent with its functionality.
- Equality: Reviews and feedback from the customer’s side could play a vital role in making brands bring change in their values when it comes to equality.
These steps are so elementary. But, will this be sufficient enough to make sustainable fashion inclusive? The answer is No. Then why do we even consider it in the first place?
It is because something is better than nothing. When we make such initiatives, it may seem to be very little or insignificant superficially. But when we look at the big picture, the number of people we are making aware of, the brands that we are targeting to take action, and the community we are forcing to become more conscious of their environment are immense.
The rise in sustainability in fashion could be a significant change for the industry. As mentioned, such small steps might appear trivial, but they can make a big impact in the long run. Although, Inclusivity is yet to make its presence clear and prominent in the industry the journey has begun. This is a complex practice; it would require extensive support from the community and the people around. But we as a group can take initiative to build a better future for society and fashion.
How small clothing brand play a role in sustainable fashion by Bioregional group. Accessed on 4/10/22. Available at- https://www.bioregional.com/news-and-opinion/how-small-clothing-brands-are-taking-on-fashions-biggest-issues?gclid=CjwKCAjws–ZBhAXEiwAv-RNL1J_JHOi5oJOLoEj_hz3QCBRxvxnhQr7OtUKWvIdca7govkuvVrZexoCJ7MQAvD_BwE
Fashion Transparency Index. Accessed on 1/10/22.Available at- https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/
Fashion Revolution/Sustainability spectra by Samantha Bullock. Accessed on 2/10/22.Available at- https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/