Their unsustainable practices in many ways mirror fast fashion. They burn stock, slash, or send it to the landfill just like fast fashion. They exploit workers just like fast fashion. They steal designs just like fast fashion. They use unsustainable materials just like fast fashion. They pollute the environment and so does fast fashion. Their business model contradicts sustainability!
Brands that have core sustainability (remember sustainable is inclusive of both people and plant) values like People Tree always ensure they aren’t exploiting the people and planet because that is a priority for them, genuinely sustainable brands actions match their words, that’s why at Planet Hugs we thoroughly research brands before partnering with them to ensure they have genuine sustainability practices and goals!
BBC and the Business Insider reported that Burberry had destroyed $37 million of stock in 2018. Burberry responded by claiming they recycle the items into energy, however, Professor Timo Rissanen (of fashion design and sustainability, at Parsons School of Design)said: “Burberry has insisted it’s recycling the clothing into energy, except the energy that is recouped from burning clothing doesn’t come anywhere near the energy that was used to create the garments.” After being called out Burberry said they would stop burning their unsold stock due to the negative effect it has.
So those high prices are mainly the result of a higher profit margin, not because they pay their workers because the majority don’t pay an ethical wage. These brands prioritise profit rather than the well-being of workers and the planet, hence why most designer brands aren’t transparent about who, where, and how their items are produced. In order to attract consumers they make it seem like they are sustainable by greenwashing and ethical-washing.
Designer fashion isn't immune to greenwashing and ethical-washing!
Greenwashing is a term referring to the marketing strategy brands use to falsely appear eco-friendly, when in fact they aren't as eco-friendly as they appear to be or eco-friendly at all e.g having "conscious collections", but continuing to mass-produce which negatively impacts workers and our planet. Brands/businesses do this because they realise consumers are becoming aware of the environmental impact of fashion and want change and to keep customers they do what will attract consumers.
Ethical-washing is just like greenwashing but in terms of ethics. Ethical-washing is when brands make it seem like they actively care for people/workers when they don't. For example brands say they support a living wage but that doesn’t always mean they pay a living wage.
It's commonly known that fast fashion brands greenwash and ethical-wash, but it's rarely acknowledged that designer brands do the same. Designer brands talk about inclusivity when it comes to models but will turn around and exploit workers within the same demographic.
We have heard that Primark uses child labour whilst claiming to care with their #primarkcares campaign, but did we hear how Levi’s the same brand that has dropped many “sustainable collections” withheld payment from workers during the Covid-19 lockdown, the time when workers needed more support? Did we hear how ASOS market place withheld payment from workers? There are many more instances like these where brands claim to care for the people and planet but the actions are contradictory.
There is a solution for this, just like there is a solution for other issues like greenwashing and ethical washing e.g Slowing production, consumption and supporting sustainable brands as well as local and small marketplaces like Planet Hugs can have a huge shift within the fashion industry.
Luckily, Campaigns and organisations are working on combating the lack of transparency. Fashion checker is a campaign and app that shows what various brands pay their workers but also rates their transparency. Fashion checker also write about why transparency is necessary for change within the fashion industry.
Many activists along with other individuals are also pushing for brands to change and also calling for the government to create better laws, so the fashion industry can be reformed. Retail businesses like our Planet Hugs are also being run that sell sustainable brands as well as educate consumers on being more responsible, this goes to show both consumer and brands need to be part of the change and each has a part to play to fix the issue like a jigsaw.
It’s not all doom and gloom, there is a solution to each problem that all brands, individuals, and governments can participate in.
Finding a truly sustainable brand!
Many brands aren’t doing it right, but so many brands, especially small businesses, are paving the way for a sustainable fashion industry, one that overthrows fast fashion as well as all other unsustainable fashion sectors.
It may be challenging sorting through marketing claims but, we can figure out when a brand is sustainable by looking at several factors- none of which include looking at the price tag as this doesn’t truly tell us about sustainability.
At Planet hugs, we choose sustainable brands like MUD jeans, Armedangels, PeopleTree, Girlfriend Collective, Ecoalf and Return to Sender that are continuously and actively trying to be responsible, whilst making quality and stylish fashion/decoration items.
Here is what we look for when choosing to partner with brands:
- Small production- Produces less waste, more time to work on quality items that last long..
- Local and small ateliers- this way the local community benefits from jobs, the well-being of workers can easily be checked, after all, the location is close hence there is a lower carbon footprint.
- Sustainable materials- E.g Tencel, hemp, organic cotton, and linen. The life cycle of sustainable materials has less negative impact, especially as it lasts longer which means individuals don’t buy as often.
- Transparency- brands that publicise who, where, and how their products are made know the importance of transparency. Transparency is needed for brands to be held accountable and for a progressive fashion industry.
- Use recycled/upcycled materials
- Donate to charities- To help further tackle inequality and give support
- Have local representatives in our own country
So if you’re looking for brands that have core sustainability values AND practices, remember Planet Hugs, making it easier for you by selling sustainable brands all in one place.
Lots of Hugs,