Eight important responsible fashion moments this year


This article is part of a series examining Responsible Fashionand innovative efforts to solve problems facing the fashion industry.

Who decides what is green or greenwashing? Is it a good thing that more and more celebrities and reality TV stars are embracing the pre-loved clothes? To what extent should governments intervene in sustainability? What protections do garment workers have?

These are just some of the questions that have dominated the debate in 2022 on how the fashion industry can reduce its impact on the planet and protect its hundreds of thousands of workers in poor countries.

As we approach 2023, we are seeing soaring energy prices in Europe, disruptions to the global supply chain and spikes in the cost of living in many parts of the world. These factors are all expected to pose challenges to an industry under pressure from regulators and consumers to quickly find meaningful solutions.

Here are some of the most memorable responsible fashion moments of 2022.

Many people don’t know how to pronounce Shein (it’s “she-in”), the Chinese fast fashion giant, but chances are they’ve probably heard of it, bought its clothes or maybe even boycotted it.

Shein made headlines in 2022: there were investigations into labor law violations and allegations of high lead levels in certain products. At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in June, Shein pledged $15 million over three years to the Gold Foundation, a charity working in Kantamanto, the world’s largest second-hand clothing market, in Accra, Ghana. . The pledge sparked greenwashing suggestions as the company continued to make a fortune selling super-cheap clothes.

It is difficult to say whether these negative reports have affected the company. According to research compiled by and published in December, Shein was the most popular fashion brand in the world this year. After analyzing a year of Google search data, Shein topped the list of most searched brands in 113 countries around the world, beating Zara to the top spot.

Patagonia has long positioned itself as a brand at the forefront of the fight against climate change, donating 1% of its sales to environmental causes since 1985. But this year, the outdoor clothing retailer’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, took a bold step: He gave his company.

He, his wife and children donated Patagonia to a nonprofit group, designed to ensure that all of the company’s profits – some $100 million a year – are used to fund conservation efforts around the world. . While it’s a move that Bloomberg says will allow the Chouinard family to avoid a substantial tax cut, it could also set a precedent for the many other mega-rich fashion dynasties.

In 2022, the message has spread that for the fashion industry to reduce its environmental footprint, more brands will need to integrate repair, resale and rental services into their business models. Spurred by the growing popularity of rental clothing, which has already been embraced by influencers, a handful of megawatt stars have also started renting high fashion for red carpet appearances. The most notable release this year? A twist earlier this month by the Princess of Wales, who wore a Kermit green off-the-shoulder dress by Emilia Wickstead to the Earthshot Awards ceremony in Boston, which she rented for £74, or around 90 $, on the British site Hurr.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has been one of the most powerful business groups focused on fashion sustainability. Its tools, known as the Higg Index, are used by companies such as Walmart, Nike and the H&M Group, and were considered a de facto industry standard for measuring environmental and social impact. Until that is no longer the case.

Norwegian regulators said this spring that Higg data was not sufficient for environmental marketing claims. A Quartz investigation found that H&M’s environmental ratings were “misleading” and “purely misleading”. And a New York Times article said the index strongly favors synthetic materials made from fossil fuels over natural materials like cotton or leather.

Fueled by other controversies such as India’s fraudulent organic cotton audit, the debate over how fashion can create a standardized way to measure and substantiate corporate sustainability claims is only heating up, without clear solution in sight.

This year, many governments seemed to realize that companies are not reforming at a pace and on a scale that will effectively tackle climate change. In January, Fashion Act organizers introduced a bill that, if passed, would make New York the first state in the nation to pass legislation establishing broad sustainability regulations.

In May, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the federal FABRIC Act, aimed at introducing better labor protections for American garment workers as well as manufacturing incentives. In November, the European Commission proposed new rules to reduce packaging waste that would affect things like perfume bottles and e-commerce packaging.

Strengthening government oversight can be a messy and slow process, but getting it started is encouraging climate advocates.

The symbiotic relationship between reality TV shows and fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Shein and Boohoo is well established. But in May, “Love Island,” the hit British reality show that turned dozens of contestants into influencers, adopted a new sponsor, eBay UK.

For several years, “Love Island” contestants wore fast fashion brand I Saw It First, which sells clothes for as little as $3. But this season, contestants wore pre-loved clothes and accessories to promote responsible shopping.

In September, the internet went into a bitter uproar when Kourtney Kardashian Barker was unveiled by Boohoo as its latest collaborator and sustainability ambassador. But, overall, there seems to be more scrutiny of how reality TV and fast fashion peddle a false egalitarianism, or a way for ordinary people to embody ambitious lifestyles.

Stella McCartney, who invested in Mylo, a mycelium material produced by Bolt Threads, as part of a 2020 consortium including Kering, Adidas and Lululemon, has launched a new venture with Protein Evolution that will process leftover nylon and polyesters blended into a new material for use in new garments. And innovative textiles like seaweed fabric, mushroom leather and pea silk have also gained momentum, as well as Spinnova, a natural fiber that is compostable and recyclable and made without water or harmful chemicals.

Fashion brands rarely own the factories that make their clothes. The vast majority of apparel and footwear orders are outsourced to suppliers in emerging markets, where overhead is cheap and the cost of human labor is even cheaper. In 2022, hundreds of thousands of garment workers, who fuel the global apparel trade, took to the streets to protest over wages and working conditions as inflation and canceled orders took their toll. ravages. In Haiti, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan, many have taken to social media to alert the world to their cause.

The news in December that factory workers in Pakistan would now be protected under the International Accord, a legally enforceable health and safety agreement, was a milestone. But the furor at the start of the World Cup over the mistreatment of thousands of workers making football uniforms for Adidas and Nike was another stark reminder that there is still a long way to go.


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