Sustainable fashion becoming the norm, despite COVID’s impact


The move toward a sustainable fashion industry already had begun its march prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, despite the pause put on clothing retailers by the world crisis, and the subsequent economic free fall, industry experts said the movement is still gathering momentum.

Wolcott’s Victoria Audibert wears an upcycled outfit for her brand Voyage by V. Audibert’s style of upcycling reflects a sustainable fashion trend fostered by COVID-19 dubbed the Imperfect Crafter, which emphasizes a DIY approach to clothing. MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO

In particular, said Fashinnovation’s Jordana Guimaraes in a recent webinar aimed at retailers, the technology being perfected to shop from home has helped create a more sustainable-friendly fashion industry.

Retailers selling their clothing on the web, and setting up virtual showrooms, have been reducing their environmental footprint, which is a key facet in the sustainable fashion movement, said Guimaraes.

Also while people are working from home, Guimaraes said consumers are learning they don’t need new outfits every week. “What do we need these clothes for?”

The reduction in demand also has reduced the volume that is a trademark of fast fashion that also results in greater waste and environmental repercussions.

Sustainability also is becoming a key ingredient in upcoming fashion trends, according to WGSN, an organization that mounts several trade shows a year for fashion retailers.

In a webinar detailing the key fashion trends expected for the fall winter 2021 collections, sustainability figured into the predictions made by WGSN representatives.

Amirya Perkins, mindset director for WGSN, said one trend dubbed “Vintage Futurist” is a nod to the sustainable and resale economy of fashion. Women are moving toward adding more thrift into their closets, preferring to get more use out of their clothing rather than items that quickly fall apart.

Another trend, dubbed “Imperfect Crafter,” is another nod to the growing popularity of sustainability, said Perkins. In this case, women are veering toward more DIY and craft-influenced fashions rather than buying fast and cheap fashion. There is an interest in a more artisanal approach toward making clothes.

Menswear strategist for WGSN Noah Zagor said sustainable fashion is not just a trend for female consumers. It also figures into upcoming fashion trends for men.

“Consumers are looking for values in clothing that is timeless and has great construction,” said Zagor.

Clothing that lasts is a key component of the sustainable fashion movement.

Guimaraes explained that when she speaks of sustainable fashion she is referring to garments that consumers can wear numerous times before it becomes unusable due to wear and tear. Sustainable fashion, ideally, is something you can pass on to family members.

Even though a Diane Von Furstenberg dress may not be what one considers when one references sustainable fashion, Guimaraes said the garment fits the bill. The designer dress can be passed down through generations and would be considered a prized possession in a family.

Sustainable fashion also has a positive social impact, said Guimaraes. For instance, sustainable fashion brands treat their employees well. These brands also practice diversity and inclusivity in their hires.

Ethical and responsible sustainable fashion is here to stay, Zagor said. It is no longer a novelty in retail. Those brands not practicing sustainability are in the minority now, said Zagor.

One criticism of sustainability has been its cost, which is a burden on less affluent consumers.

However, Guimaraes said prices on sustainable goods will fall as more consumers and retailers take up the sustainable cause. When there is more demand for sustainable goods, and there is a larger supply of options, prices will fall. Fast fashion is only cheaper because of the volume of sales, she said.

“It’s a process” of getting sustainable fashion to be more affordable, said Guimaraes. “We’re in the midst of transformation.”

“Sustainability is here to take a front seat in the industry,” said Guimaraes.