Fashion is a polluting and somewhat controversial industry. Ready-to-wear fashion clothing brands continue to produce more, and transparency is most certainly not number one their priority list. Low-priced clothes often hide a disturbing reality.
According to the 1018 Global Fashion Agenda report, pollution caused by fast-fashion will increase by 63% by 2030. To offset this trend, a recent counter-movement has emerged. The last couple of years has witnessed the appearance of many brands wanting to offer ethical and sustainable clothing. However, because of the so-called greenwashing trend, it can sometimes be difficult to know what’s really going on. Ethical fashion, sustainable, eco-friendly… We’re going to help understand a bit more on all of this.
First things first, what is fast fashion?
The aim of fast fashion is simple: a wide range of choice offered at a very low price. Brands rely on intensive collection renewals. Some chains even count up to 36 collections per year, compared to the four traditional ones, one per season.
The prices are so attractive than we can question ourselves on the quality of the clothes and the conditions in which they’ve been made. Poor fabric quality, chemicals (heavy metals, plastic), thousands of kilometres travelled to arrive in your house, working conditions in manufacturing firms: low prices can also have an ethical cost.
And the list goes on… But you get the gist. Low costs rarely result in the choice of high-quality fabric. And our wardrobes are often full of choices that have environmental and social impacts.
What does responsible fashion mean?
When looking up the definition in a dictionary, we can find “that is thought out, serious, that takes into consideration the consequences of one’s acts”. And this is rather a correct and concise way of summarising the aims of responsible fashion.
Responsible fashion is the result of different values that cover various concepts that may vary but are still relatable. This is why it’s easy to get lots among terms such as ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly so we’re going to define each and one of them for you here.
Focused on respecting the environment, eco-friendly fashion also aims to ensure good working and health conditions for all employees. This involves using natural, organic, biodegradable, or recyclable material. This is combined with less polluting manufacturing conditions, restriction or withdrawal of toxic products, reduction of carbon footprint, local production. All this to obtain a design with fewer impacts and a garment that is made to last in time.
Sustainable fashion is closely related to eco-friendly fashion. It is committed to respecting sustainable development values, hence the name, to help fight against climate change. This means preserving resources and limiting their use by avoiding any waste. And this starts even before buying a product: looking after our current clothes, repairing them, swapping them, buying second hand. Nothing is thrown away, it’s rather mended.
Ethical fashion is sort of portmanteau word but it many involves the fact of asking ourselves if what we’re doing is fair and good. It means being concerned not only about the chosen materials, but also the manufacturing methods by ensuing workers respectable conditions (whether it be security, health, salary, and respect of rights). Ethical fashion is also preferring local development, fairly priced clothes, high-quality garments, and full transparency.
We need to keep in mind that a brand can be responsible, ethical, and/or sustainable without necessarily ticking all these boxes. The main point is trying to slowly achieve a more responsible fashion.
How to recognise eco-friendly clothing?
Now that we’ve explained the meaning of the most important terms here, it’s time to talk about certifications. Here are some guidelines to ensure that your clothes have gone through an honourable path before landing in your hands.
The Global Organic Textile Standard certification ensures that all the production and transformation steps respect the environment, ethical working conditions, the use of organic fibres, and the prohibition of dangerous inputs such as heavy metals, aromatic solvents, etc.
The products are controlled as per the GOTS requirements, a quality seal ensured all along the industry up until the end client. This certification has two levels:
- Organic fabric: 95% of the fibres come from organic agriculture, less than 5% of the fibres are artificial or synthetic.
- Fabric made from organic fibres: a minimum 70% of fibres come from organic agriculture, less than 30% of the fibres of non-organic, in which a maximum of 10% is synthetic fibres.
We’ve chosen this certification all the materials we use for our t-shirts but also our reusable wipes and washcloth.
The Organic Content Standard certifies that the materials used are organic (traceability all along the production chain).
- OCS100: garments made with a minimum of 95% of organic raw material
- OCS Blended: garments made with a minimum 5% of organic raw material mixed with conventional or synthetic material
Fair Wear Foundation
It guarantees respectful working conditions thanks to a certification based on 8 pillars such as wages, working hours, minor or forced work.
This certification helps to track the certified product: the country or countries in which it was made, the different manufacturing steps. It considers many environmental and social criteria such as working conditions.
This European certification is a bit different from the others: it doesn’t assess the composition or the origin of a product, but rather its environmental impact throughout its life: raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution, and even recycling or elimination after use.
And what links Comme Avant to ethical fashion?
Comme Avant is more than just a cosmetics brand, it’s a movement, a true philosophy with strong values. This is why we also wanted to do our part.
In 2019, we started a new project: making a responsible product. We spent a lot of time trying to understand the ethical fashion market and looking for more respectful and ethical solutions and alternatives. It hasn’t always been easy, but we wanted to offer high-quality clothes, timeless and universal.
They’re made in our workshop by Lucille and her team. All the conception, modelling, and manufacturing are done by hand by our seamstresses who make around fifty t-shirts per week. They’re handmade using traditional methods. Nothing is delocalised to ensure you a high-quality manufacturing process.
Just like for our cosmetics, traceability and transparency of our raw materials are for us essential criteria. This is why we chose GOTS-certified fabric. As well as the points mentioned above, we were convinced by this certification as it’s currently the strictest on the market. GOTS represent a seal of quality and is the best way to ensure our requirements and offer the best product possible.
We’ve chosen organic French linen (200g/m2) and organic dye-free cotton jersey (160g/m2,) for strong and resistant clothes that are made to last.
Why we need to change our perception of “expensive”?
We’re so used fast-fashion low prices so when we see the cost of ethical clothing, this can somewhat be surprising. Ethical fashion has a cost, the cost of fairly priced clothes. Taking our t-shirts as an example, we want to explain why our vision of prices needs to change.
We chose quality for our clothes and consequently high-quality fabric. You won’t find any solvents, heavy metals, or plastic in our t-shirts. We’ve chosen natural materials. The linen and cotton we use are both organic and GOTS-certified. This certification brings us a seal of quality and allows us to produce high-quality and sustainable clothing.
They’re ecologically sustainable but also simply sustainable as you’ll be able to wear them for a long time! Our textile range is made and designed to be universal and timeless. This means that our t-shirt will be with you for years and years.
Yes, Lucille and her team have thought of everything for it to be as pleasant to wear and as resistant to last in time. We receive the raw material and make the t-shirts by hand in our workshop. We simplified the products conception, no back and forth between factories, we opted for short circuits.
We acknowledge that our t-shirts don’t seem accessible to all. You’ll think about it for some time before taking the leap. But we believe in ethical and slow fashion. Fewer garments each year, but sustainable ones for the same price in the end.
Slow fashion is a notion that is made up of many aspects: a more responsible consumption, taking better care of our clothes, buying second hand or ethical clothes. Change begins with growing awareness. No need to change all your clothes from one day to the next!
We’re aware that consuming ethical fashion can be difficult in everyday life. But we’re also convinced that each little step helps to take things further and make more people more aware. It’s also for this reason that we wanted to apply our philosophy to this area of consumption, to help you in your ecological transition. 🙂