Sustainable Fashion is not a new concept, however sustainable clothing being fashionable is. Historically, clothing items manufactured by the pure sustainable brands were extremely basic and made from coarse, unrefined fabrics. In the formative years these brands created garments which were made via extremely primitive processes and production techniques. The initial sustainable clothing items created were often shapeless and uncomfortable to wear, with no style, no high quality pattern cutting, no craftsmanship and no use of quality materials. As the sustainable clothing ideology gathered momentum, the processes of farming and manufacturing sustainable garments also improved leading to the development of higher quality clothing.
However, sustainable fashion was still not fashionable. In order to compete with fast fashion and other more established fashion brands, sustainable clothing required a more aesthetic appeal in addition to providing comfort and a luxury feel to the consumer.
Fashion by definition suggests style, craftsmanship, beautiful patterns, beautiful designs and high quality aesthetics; the sustainable fashion market should be no different. It is important that there is a clear distinction between sustainable clothing and sustainable fashion.
Sustainable fashion can be defined as timeless fashionable clothing and accessories, designed to be stylish with a tailored fit and manufactured using sustainable processes. In order to be classed as true sustainable fashion the raw materials must be farmed or produced via sustainable means, this includes the use of non toxic pesticides when farming crops and the use of organic natural materials wherever possible. The sustainable manufacturing process must take into consideration the socio-economic and environmental impact of the production of the clothing throughout its entire process.
A sustainable process should create products which conform to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or use recycled materials such as recycled polyester made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate). The materials used to create clothing should be free from genetically modified organisms and every element utilised must be fully traceable from farming to distribution.
A sustainable process should utilise 100% of the farmed materials, nothing should go to waste. It must also incorporate green/renewable energy as its primary source of power. Jackson James uses wind and solar power as its clean renewable energy source during the manufacturing part of our process. This has allowed the business to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the production of clothing by 90%.
The water used in the production process is also recycled, this is achieved by using a closed loop purification system which converts waste water into a clean and reusable water source. Approximately 20,000 litres of water is used to make 1kg of traditional cotton and this waste water normally ends up in our water sources. The benefits of a sustainable process are:-
- 100% of the water is reused and
- Sustainably farmed organic cotton requires much less water to manufacture.
It is also important for the packaging of the products to be eco-friendly and minimal too. Jackson James uses both recyclable and biodegradable post-consumer materials.
The sustainability of the clothing does not stop with the initial purchase, the materials can be reused and recycled for future clothing meaning that the item will not contribute to landfill sites. This is known as the product life cycle. Alternatively as the clothing items produced are high quality, timeless and durable (unlike fast fashion items), they can be sold on to a new owner as second hand apparel.
From a fashion and style standpoint we have pattern designers who produce timeless cuts, delivering clothing which will never follow fast fashion fads and trends. These patterns and subsequent cuts produce clothing which will still be current and wearable in years to come.
This is sustainable fashion.