Conscious fashion represents a more ethical and sustainable alternative to fast fashion. It prioritises sustainability along with profits as they need to go hand in hand to create a long-term meaningful footprint towards impacting livelihoods and environment. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothing are very detrimental to the environment. Textile wastes are piling up in landfills due to the throwaway culture. Conscious consumerism encourages a more socially and environmentally responsible way of producing and consuming apparel and accessories.
Conscious fashion is for everybody, it’s truly inclusive. Each consumer has the chance to do their best when it comes to environmental protection and human rights. It’s empowering young citizens across the globe to support brands that are ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free. New and better brands and business models are coming up that recognise that infinite growth on a planet of finite resources is a powerful cause. A commitment to long-term sustainable practices driven by a larger mission to use capital do good in the world and delivering measurable impact should be the drive to build better brands that protect our planet and humanity.
So what is the Mind, Body and Spirit of Fashion
Fashion often leads the voice of culture. It’s now more than ever that the brands and businesses have an opportunity to demonstrate that creativity and respect for boundaries can lead to longer lasting impact for communities. It is a lesser-known fact that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry, and takes a large toll on the environment. In addition to water pollution from chemical dyeing processes, microplastics from synthetic materials, packaging waste and poor working conditions, the fashion industry contributes around 20% to global waste water production and 10% to carbon emissions, owing to the trend of fast fashion prevailing these days. So I feel it is our duty to take a step back, introspect, and find ways to reduce our carbon emissions as responsible citizens of the world while supporting the community impact by creating meaningful employment and supporting livelihoods. Using traditional skills and combine them with new innovative technologies for up-skilling and scaling, creating opportunities in rural areas where work is often scarce, using low impact dyes, natural materials and avoiding plastic and toxic materials are all steps brands can start taking immediately to make a difference.
What brands can do to breathe life into a this “conscious lifestyle” is a shared value strategy around the pillars of Supply Chain, Branding, Marketing, Social Community, Transparency, Collaboration and Experience. Positioning the campaigns around the strategy of supporting markers of good consumer behaviour and incentivizing that would go a long way. Much like the organic food movement has drawn a clear contrast between cheap, processed fast food, and higher quality and healthier organic food, in the minds of consumers, conscious brands should make an effort to position sustainable fashion as the more enlightened choice.
Moving beyond conversation, brands need to innovate and give consumers new ways to participate in the brands mission. Through trips to artisans communities, sponsored storytelling opportunities, and participatory events, better brands can make their consumers part of their story and mission.
Some attempts have been made to promote and create standards for conscious brands but none of these efforts have succeeded in achieving mainstream recognition. By creating a standard label, that help consumers quickly identify conscious brands and make informed purchasing decisions, will go a long way.
Circularity in fashion and adopting eco-friendly packaging are couple of quick ways to create a positive impact. Brands can also eliminate overstocking by using technology and data to understand their consumer’s behaviour and interest and more accurately predict product trends and inventory cycles.
Elevated concierge services and innovative retail experiences to help consumers make informed choices and participate in the growing community to become the stakeholders to drive this change.
There’s no magic wand to create an instant, popular conscious lifestyle. But by brands, startups and industry funding taking the steps together, we can move closer towards the emergence of a truly conscious consumer lifestyle.
The challenges are real, but the solutions are available— it’s a question of a co-ordinated effort on behalf of the brands, the consumers and the industry as a whole to collectively believe in the vision of a better planet and for the betterment of communities around the globe. Our collective goal is achievable to make our planet Earth a better place to live, not just for us but also for our future generations.
Dipali Patwa is the Group Head of Brand, Digital & Community at Fabindia. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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