Discover the world of Sustainable Fashion #1: Definition

sustainable fashion definition

A couple of weeks ago, I informed you about an upcoming series on this blog, about sustainable fashion. I already thought it would be an interesting, but complicated ordeal. This turned out to be very true. So much to read. So many opinions. So many experts. Today I proudly present you the first post in the series ‘Discover the world of Sustainable Fashion’.

Sustainable Fashion Definition

I love definitions. Often times they make life easier. They are also a great topic for discussion. In the case of sustainable fashion, it might not surprise you that there exists no formal definition. It seems impossible to formulate a definition of sustainable fashion that would be applicable to the current fashion industry.

For starters, some people believe that the term sustainable fashion is a contradiction in terms. Fashion is in the first place an industry that thrives on consumerism. Producing as much as possible to satisfy the consumer and produce at the lowest possible cost. Fast trends exist to be followed, by consumer as well as by producer.

Second, the term sustainable fashion has a very high risk of being greenwashed. Greenwashing means that through marketing and PR investments, companies inform the consumer about their efforts to be sustainable and ‘green’, especially in this day and age where so much attention is being paid to ‘good guy’ companies that tell easy stories about becoming green, without actually investing time and money in truly being sustainable. Thus, the consumer is actually blinded by the pretty stories, while the company keeps producing in an unsustainable way.

But then…How to proceed in defining Sustainable Fashion?

First, it might help to dive a little deeper into the production and consumption process of fashion in general, e.g. the different stakeholders involved (or at least, as many stakeholders as I could now think of – feel free to pose further suggestions – I’m sure I’ve forgotten some). Just to give you a clearer idea of what is happening there. Second, we try to define define the pillars that sustainable fashion should rest on.

Stakeholders involved in sustainable fashion

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Sustainable fashion pillars

This is, of course, also a subjective way of defining the most important pillars that need to be taken into account when defining fashion as sustainable fashion. In my opinion, these cover in broad sense the essential aspects that need to be taken into account when defining if a certain piece of fashion or fashion brand is sustainable.

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As you can see, the subject of sustainable fashion can be a very broad one. At the moment, a shift in the fashion world is visible, now that more and more brands and leaders in the industry adopt a more holistic approach to (sustainable) fashion. But, keep in mind that at this moment, greenwashing in the fashion industry is a great risk, as well as so called ‘green’ brands or ‘sustainable’ changes are made in only one aspect of the production process/stakeholder positions. For this series, we will adopt a holistic approach to what sustainable fashion encompasses. This means, we will cover all three mentioned pillars and as many stakeholder positions as possible to get a vision that is as complete as possible.

Different takes on what sustainable fashion should be, in the industry

Roughly, two different approaches to sustainable fashion can be identified when looking at the current practices in eliminating hazardous, unfair and polluting practices in the fashion industry.

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For example, the slow fashion movement is an interesting one. Slow production and consumption are promoted, quality over quantity. When you look at the above mentioned two approaches, this movement would be categorized under the second approach, making the world better. Reducing the waste and educating people while at the same time producing beautiful and sustainable fashion.
Sometimes brands go even further, as Gstar recently did for example, by recycling plastic into wearable clothing. A subject we will dive into deeper in the time to come!


Although there is no one definition of what sustainable fashion is, in this article I’ve provided you with some insights and aspects that can be taken into account. Let’s further broaden our knowledge on the subject the coming weeks, and discuss some interesting topics that have already come up. There is just no end to what still can be done, discussed and researched! Super excited here, also because I feel that dissecting the term Sustainable Fashion the way we now did already helps a lot in coming to an understanding of this industry, where so much new and exciting developments are taking place, and chances can be found!

Please, feel free to leave me any comments, further notes or questions on the definition of Sustainable Fashion!

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One Comment

  1. Lovely article!

    Fair trade (& sustainable) fashion has been a trending topic on my blog for years now. Unfortunately the movement doesn’t seem to go fast enough, but at least it’s there…!

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