Ethical, conscious, sustainable, vegan… there are many overlapping eco-movements within the fashion industry. To understand what we’re truly purchasing, here are three tips on how to decipher what the definitions mean to make the right decisions.

 

Sustainable fashion

The term focuses on reducing the carbon footprint of any garment by looking at its lifespan. The goal is to find a balance between the design, sourcing, manufacturing, consumption and discard variables to avoid depletion of natural resources and exploitation of labor. “Sustainable fashion takes into account the entire supply chain,” says Megan Eddings, founder of a proprietary sustainable fabric. “From where and how it is made to when it ends up in our landfills. It is important for consumers to think about how their purchase affects the environment,” she explains.

Vegan fashion

Known as 100% “cruelty-free” clothing, vegan fashion is any apparel made without using animal-based fibers, such as fur, leather, silk or wool. The movement is also vocal against animal testing in production processes and champions an animal-free lifestyle. Vegan fashion looks to plant-based alternatives, such as bamboo and faux fur that require strict certifications from watchdog groups, such as the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals organization (PETA).

Who wins?

Arguably, raw materials sourced for sustainable fashion are not always vegan-friendly, for example recycled wool and silk remnants. On the other hand, not all vegan-approved fibers are sustainable, such as man-made synthetics, unless manufacturers are able to integrate recycled plastic and use closed-loop processing systems. Even if vegan fashion does not address environmental impact 100% of the time, it does protect animal rights, which often goes hand-in-hand with sustainability-focused brands. To find out more about sustainability and fashion, browse our latest article on Eco Fashion: A Beginner’s Guide to Feeling Good about What You Wear.

 

Author: Naomy Gmyrek