The term “sustainable” in the fashion industry has been misrepresented. The excessive use of this label by some firms causes confusion among consumers. It is difficult, almost impossible for the general public, to track the production of each brand, each garment and know if their commitment to the environment is real or on the contrary pure marketing.
Knowing the new terms of the industry and knowing how to read their labels is currently crucial to be able to classify our own consumption as responsible with the planet. “Current and future fashion can no longer be separated from the concept of sustainability and it is a requirement integrated into the business strategies of the brands that are part of the industry,” explains Clara Delmuns, Desigual’s product director. Although the percentage of authenticity regarding the use of the sustainable label is according to Delmuns very high in the industry, it does acknowledge that the term has become trivial in some cases.
“The traceability and transparency of firms should be in the eyes of consumers when looking for more sustainable products or those with less environmental impact,” says Mango’s corporate social responsibility team. In this sense, the firm ensures that a garment can be a sustainable option on the one hand for its raw materials and on the other for its production process. “It is important to relate industry terms on sustainability to tangible materials, processes and environmental impacts, such as the use of organic cotton or recycled fibers, water-saving production processes and less use of harmful substances as well as the use of renewable energy in production systems.
Differentiate between organic fibers, eco-friendly and recycled materials
For Desigual’s product manager, it is important that consumers learn to differentiate the materials and processes with which sustainable garments are made. “Organic fibers contain organic material and, therefore, the treatment of garments made with this material when they reach the end of their useful life is much more respectful with the environment than other materials”, remarks Delmuns.
Eco-friendly fibers, on the other hand, stand out for their production process. “They are fibers that have been produced in a sustainable way through a process in which the impact on the environment is reduced by using less water, energy and chemicals,” says this expert.
In a third place are garments made with recycled fibers, that is, materials that represent an even lower impact on the environment since they have been used and processed to be used again in other garments. “In our case (Desigual) we use recycled polyester, polyamide and cotton fibers,” he adds.
Upcycling or how to avoid the massive disposal of garments
Likewise, and as a process similar to the use of recycled fibers, there is another type of ecological clothing that is experiencing its peak this year. Upcycling, or creative recycling, is a movement that seeks to reinvent a garment by adding parts of other recycled garments in an artisanal way. An artistic process that seeks to give clothing a second life and thus encourage responsible consumption.
“This use of materials and objects to create ‘new’ garments of higher value avoids the generation of waste and is part of a circular economy model in which materials are not discarded,” Delmuns sentence, adding that precisely the origin Desigual is closely linked to this trend: “We are one of the first companies to put it into practice. Desigual’s first garment was a denim jacket made from scraps of used jeans that is now known as the Desigual Iconic Jacket, ”he says.
For the Mango team, the circular economy will play a transcendental role in the industry, with textile waste being a resource to be used and not a waste. “It aims to reduce textile waste and ensure that all fabrics, come from used garments or production scraps, are reused, recycled to create new garments or are given a new function. In this way, textile waste is seen as a resource that should always be used.