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What Real Circularity in Fashion Looks Like


Distinguishing Circular Fashion from Greenwashing

A rise in interest among consumers surrounding sustainable fashion means that more and more people are becoming aware of the devastating effects fast fashion has on the industry and the environment. However, as demands rise for more sustainably made clothing, so is devious marketing by large brands that claim they’re making a change towards sustainability, when in fact they’re doing very little to nothing when it comes to overhauling their methods of production.

Are you trying to figure out how to see through misleading advertisements and find who’s really practising circularity and sustainability? Here’s a simple introduction to circular fashion and how to tell it apart from greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing?

As consumers demand more sustainable products, large brands and manufacturers are abusing this interest and duping the public into believing what they’re buying is conscious and responsible when they’re actually quite far from it.

While a specific collection created by a brand may contain recycled pieces or items made with organic materials, if the brand continues their original method of production for the rest of their clothes and utilises the same, unsustainable materials they’ve always been using, then this is greenwashing. Many large brands are guilty of touting a product or collection as eco-friendly based on a small set of attributes without taking the full impacts of production into consideration.

As long as a brand follows the linear life cycle of clothing wherein pieces are made and expected to be thrown away and don’t overhaul their methods of production to a sustainable one, all while claiming they’re creating sustainable or eco-friendly clothing, then they’re most likely greenwashing.

What is Circular Fashion?

While many brands create clothing with organic and recycled materials, they may not create these items with circularity in mind. Circularity in fashion simply means that an item of clothing is created with its reusability and environmental impact in mind and that these clothes are repurposed and made to be repurposed again and again, quite literally creating a circular lifespan.

Every step in the production of an item leads back to its longevity and sustainability. Circular fashion always considers whether the garment is durable enough to last for years, whether the style of the garment is timeless, whether the materials used are sustainable and can be disassembled, reused, or biodegrade, whether workers creating the garments treated ethically, and, finally, whether the garment can they be repaired or redesigned instead of being thrown away or donated when it’s damaged. 

Final Note

Every aspect of circular, and therefore sustainable, fashion is thoughtful and intentional. Fast fashion has normalised discarding clothing after a few uses and not caring where it goes after it’s been trashed. This mindset has had such a negative effect on not just our relationship with clothing, but with the environment and the people who create and are affected by the production and waste that clothing creates. By supporting the circular fashion model and buying clothes that can be repurposed and worn again and again, we can still have fashionable clothing that doesn’t harm the planet.

Ellora Sharma

Ellora Sharma is a 26-year-old fashionmonger from Leeds. She discovered her love for fashion through the many intricate and flashy designs found in the Bollywood films she religiously watched when she was younger (and continues to watch to this day). She has since developed an affinity for colourful and distinctive clothing, and loves to experiment with her style on the daily. She wants to help others find the same kind of joy and fun in clothing as she has.

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