Sustainable fashion: from fast fashion to green fashion?

Status: 15.12.2021 08:14

Always up to date – in times when collections change every few weeks? It is anything but sustainable. How can fast fashion turn into green fashion?

By Nicholas Buschschlueter, ARD Stock Exchange Studio

A look into a German wardrobe makes the whole dilemma clear: according to a survey by the environmental organization Greenpeace, one in five garments is almost never worn. According to Viola Wohlgemuth of the environmental organization Greenpeace, textile production doubled between 2000 and 2014, but wearing time halved in the same time. “As a result, textiles became disposable,” says Wohlgemuth. “They are made up of 60 to 70 percent synthetic fibers.” She compares the new materials to a plastic bag. The only difference is that these plastics “cause even bigger problems than plastic bags already do,” according to the environmentalist.

Nicolas Buschschlueter

Some fashion giants are already reacting

In addition, the production of textiles contributes significantly to climate change: according to calculations by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the global fashion industry generates as much CO2 emissions in the manufacture of clothing as France. , Germany and Great Britain combined. In view of these figures, some large fast fashion chains are trying to ensure more sustainability. H&M and C&A have created their own sustainability labels. A new “Fashion Transparency Index” also aims to ensure more transparency on working conditions and supply chains.

That’s still not enough, says Henrik Pontzen of fund company Union Investment. He believes the transition from fast fashion to green fashion will only be successful if not just some, but all fashion lines are made more sustainable. “Specifically, it requires the more intensive use of alternative materials to reduce the use of cotton or polyester,” says Pontzen. “This requires a much higher recycling rate in fashion production in order to take the first steps towards a true circular economy.”

end of mass production

Another problem is that some eco-labels only provide insufficient information about the actual sustainability of products, says Greenpeace activist Wohlgemuth. “So we need independent seals – and even they just say, ‘This textile wasn’t so badly made.’ But that’s just not good enough.” Mass production must be abandoned. Because: “Even though there are many pilot products from fast fashion giants to create a green image, the bulk of the money will still be made with fast fashion.”

According to Greenpeace, one possible solution would be to levy higher taxes on fast fashion products. According to the motto: the more the clothes are harmful to the environment, the higher the selling price. Another idea is to set aside 10% of retail space in city centers for alternatives to fast fashion chains – for example, for thrift stores.

German companies feel no pressure

And where are the medium-sized German fashion companies like Bugatti or Marc Cain compared to the predominantly foreign fast fashion chains? They target a different audience, says Tanja Croonen of fashion association German Fashion: “German fashion companies have no pressure on fast fashion,” says Croonen. Instead, companies are betting on value-added and sustainable production. One in five medium-sized fashion companies in Germany now generates more than half of its sales with sustainable products.

H&M, Zara & Co – Fast fashion under the pressure of sustainability

Nicholas Buschschlueter, HR, December 14, 2021 5:14 p.m.

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