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Defining "Sustainable Fashion" (when there's no industry standard)

Cecily Ripley

February 11, 2021

Oh sustainability; what a loaded word you’ve become! It seems like everyone has their own definition and what “sustainability” means to them. Even the words used to describe it… green, natural, eco…seem vague and are often misused. It’s no wonder that there is no industry standard defining what “sustainable fashion” truly is! This begs the question, how are fashion companies supposed to implement sustainable initiatives into their business when there’s no blueprint, let alone definition?!

We can assess sustainability using a traditional model that examines the relationship between the three components of any sustainability model: environment, society, and economy. The model I feel like best represents the interconnectivity of sustainability is the 3 Nested Dependencies Model.

This model shows the connection and interdependency between the environment, society, and our economy. Without the environmental support our society receives through food, clean water, fresh air, abundant resources, society could not survive. And it’s our society that determines which economic structure benefits our society most and we have the ability to change it at any time to match our needs! Through the lens of this model, sustainability is about taking restorative action and striving for greater connection!

Sustainability can also be examined in relation to time. The 1987 Report of the Brundtland Commission defined sustainability quite eloquently, “Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

What sustainability really comes down to is making decisions. Decisions that not only reduce impact on the environment, society, and economy but also replenish the resources we use, so our generation and future generations can meet their needs.

How does this translate to Sustainable Fashion?

Read the full article at The Guided Wardrobe.

Leibowitz, Domenica. “Guide to Sustainable Strategies.” Council of Fashion Designers of America. Accessed October 12, 2020.


Fashion & Clothing