Progress Over Perfection | Wrap Maxi Dress and Leather Handbag
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One of my favorite sustainable fashion bloggers out there is Style Wise. She wrote an awesome blog post a few months back that really stuck with me on how the high cost of ethical fashion is a barrier to entry, especially for low-income people. This goes along with a post I wrote recently about how sustainable fashion consumption is a privilege. Today, I want to explore the topic of the progress that’s been made in sustainable fashion.
can fast fashion brands really be sustainable?
H&M has a a Conscious line. ASOS has a section on their website with Eco brands. Boohoo started a line made of recycled pieces. Even Zara pledged to be 100% sustainable by 2025. More and more, fast fashion brands are getting the hint that their manufacturing practices aren’t sitting well with a growing number of consumers. The rise of sustainable and ethical fashion brands in the industry such as Everlane and Reformation are disruptors in the market that state there are people willing to pay more money for ethically-made clothing. There is a greater demand for transparency in manufacturing and pricing and these lines are an answer to that demand.
Are all of these brands and their sustainable lines and promises perfect? No, not at all. Is there a need for them to exist? Yes, absolutely!
To refer back to my post on sustainability and privilege, I’ve always maintained my position that I don’t believe it’s fair to demand a stop in fast fashion purchases from low-income people, especially when fast fashion is all they can afford. However, when conscious consumers tell brands that are trying to take a step in the right direction that their $50 tee couldn’t possibly be made ethically because, “nothing ethically can be made for only $50,” that’s problematic. The word “only” shouldn’t really be in that sentence because for some people, $50 isn’t money to be thrown around, it’s an investment. Instead of throwing around words that exclude people, we should be encouraging people to use whatever money they have to spend, to spend it on something at least a bit more ethical than they would otherwise, whatever that means for them. If a single mother working over 40 hours a week and living barely above the poverty line decides that instead of going on a shopping spree at Forever 21 for her kids, she would spend money on the Conscious line at H&M, why is that not enough? Just because H&M is fast fashion (and I do have a lot of issues with their manufacturing processes), doesn’t mean that this woman’s decision isn’t doing her part to help.
Prioritizing progress over Perfection
Megan from Tunes and Tunics said it best when she thought it was better for many people to strive for sustainable and ethical changes than have very few people live in such a way perfectly. I think that sustainability and ethical fashion should be accessible to everyone, no matter their income. Making sustainable fashion unattainable to anyone other than the privileged few is a guaranteed way to ensure that sustainability doesn’t become the norm. If that means that we embrace more people to shop at eco-lines at their favorite fast fashion brands, so be it. I think it’s more important that we all strive to make better choices, whatever that means for everyone, in incremental quantities than it is for only a few people live a 100% ethical lifestyle. Progress is always better, and frankly, more sustainable, than perfection and I happen to believe that progress leads to attainment. Don’t believe me? Just look at organic food. Even just a few years ago, most people were saying that eating organic food wasn’t practical because it was too expensive. With lots of people demanding better and buying organic when they could (if not always), organic groceries are much more prevalent in our grocery stores than they used to be. I think fashion can go that direction as well, but only if many people can access it.