An Analysis of Fashion Sustainability and Moving Towards a Global Fashion Industry Shift

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Sustainable fashion is becoming more prevalent in the fashion retail industry as more consumers are starting to demand ethical and sustainable sourcing. Since the retail industry thrives on fast turnover rates of production of merchandise, I want to know how sustainable brands are able to be successful in the industry and if their practices are as sustainable as they claim to be, how viable is that option? I introduce the topic of hyper-consumerism in order to get an understanding of the way society functions as consumers of fashion. The significance of this topic is impactful due to our environment being at high risk from the large amounts of pollution that the fashion industry creates on a daily basis. To gather data, I took the approach of qualitative interviews with two participants to gain an insider’s perspective on the fashion industry, specifically, the type of education they gained and what they know about the sustainable fashion industry. I interviewed one fashion designer and one company founder of a sustainable brand in order to gain insight on the real challenges they face and how they view the industry on whether or not sustainable brands are fully ethical or not. The results showed that it is very difficult for a fashion retail company to be fully sustainable in an industry that thrives on the exact opposite of what they implement due to costs being high and a market that is not fully aware of the benefits of a sustainable brand and the detrimental effects fast fashion brands have on our environment. There seemed to be a common understanding that starting a sustainable fashion brand is complicated and challenging due to higher prices for both company and consumer, and manufacturing partners who are not readily equipped to handle production in small batches, instead of large quantities that fast fashion retailers have set the foundation for so long. My goal was to attain information from people who have had exposure to the industry and their opinions and perspectives were consistent with preexisting literature in that sustainability is not always what it claims to be as far as being 100% ethical. Since these larger companies do not have to disclose how they source, and the fact that I have been denied interviews from large retailers, point to my conclusion that there is much more the public is not aware on the topic of their unethical practices. It is important for this topic to advance in order to move in the direction of a societal consumption shift.


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