fashion+sustainabilityThe rise of collaborations within the fashion realm has shot through the roof over the past few years with Virgil Abloh, Takashi Murakami and Heron Preston at the forefront of the collaborative scene.

Yet, these designers have all brought unique and creative ideas to the market. On the flip side, there’s one collaboration that has not only tarnished the image of the industry but left a stain on the planet.

Fashion’s relationship with the environment has, like the occurrence of collaborations has become more prominent in recent years.

With the rise of fast fashion, consumers are more willing to purchase an item for a cheap price and wear it less, having detrimental effects on the environment.

The Environmental Audit Committee put fashion under the spotlight and found the aforementioned statement to be true. Mary Creagh, chair of the committee, said: “Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact.”

WRAP further backed this up when their research found that the UK market discarded 300,000 tonnes of fabrics while the industry wasted 800,000 tonnes. As a whole, the UK only bought 1m tonnes of fabrics.

Buyers are not innocent though, with consumers purchasing 400% more than they did 20 years ago. With collections dropping, new brands and trends appearing daily in the age of social media, people feel they can never have enough. 30% of items purchased are worn just once.

The need for fresh clothes has also led the second-hand industry to the brink of collapse, as a Greenpeace report found. The investigation also found that the purchase and use of clothing already generates more than 850 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The collaboration between fashion and the environment is on a horrendously negative spiral.


Yet, new start-up brands are countering fashion’s environmental threat. Permanent Clothing, interviewed by Wear? Magazine recently, source their clothes from 100% organic cotton blends in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

This type of production didn’t happen without research though, and Permanent spent a year analysing suppliers before committing to a decision.

“I started to read about exploitation, chemicals, pollution, dangerous working conditions and more issues of the fashion industry. This made me decide I wanted to start my own sustainable fashion brand and educate others through my garments. “

Permanent’s creator, Iris van Melsen, noticed how people didn’ notice their actions are killing the planet and created the ‘Water’ collection to bring the environmental damage to the forefront of consumer’s attention.

“The fashion industry is the second-largest user of water globally, one cotton shirt consumes 2,700 liters of water – the equivalent of taking a 5,6-hour long shower.”

Iris continued: “It would feel amazing, if  I can make someone think about their consumerism for a moment. Especially the younger generation, they always had access to the Internet and could look up information easier than anyone else could while growing up. They are open for a change and I would love to educate them. We need to focus on sustainability as a norm instead of a luxury!”

And it’s the lack of education that leads consumers into damaging decisions and that’s what needs to change. The information is out there, it just needs to be accessed, learn.

Images courtesy of Carmen Busquets, CoClear & Permanent Clothing.

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