Spotlight on Sustainability


Quick facts

Approximately 75 million people work to make our clothes. 80% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 35. Fashion Revolution

– As a society we purchase 400% more clothing today than we did just 20 years ago. Fashion Revolution

– Doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces emissions over the year by 24%. Sustainable Fashion Matterz

– Extending the life of clothing by a further 9 months would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30% each. Sustainable Fashion Matterz

– China is the largest producer of emissions associated with global cotton production, while almost half of all CO2 emissions embodied in global clothing production arise from the generation of electricity. The Carbon Trust

– The fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating about 20% of the world’s water waste and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually. United Nations Environment Programme

– The purchase and use of clothing accounts for around 3% of global production CO2 emissions. The Carbon Trust

Global fashion initiatives to improve the industry’s impact on the environment

The Global Change awards is an innovation challenge created in 2015 by the H&M foundation which aims to reduce fashion’s impact on the planet and protect our living conditions by calling for ideas to make the fashion industry circular. Find out more at

The Fashion Pact is a first of its kind initiative created by French President Emmanuel Macron which has established a set of shared objectives the fashion industry can work towards to reduce its environmental impact. Headed by Francois-Henri Pinault, Kering Chair and CEO, the set of objectives focus on three areas: climate, biodiversity and oceans. More than 30 fashion companies have signed onto the pact and intend on working closely with their suppliers to influence their operations to ensure an improved environmental footprint. The initiatives are designed to be collaborative across the fashion sector as well with other industrial sectors.

Fashion Revolution is an organisation that believes in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit for equal measure; supports and encourages the commitment and dedication of those in the industry who are already thinking of new ways to reduce the impact on the environment. Find out more

 Spotlight on sustainable local brands

Here’s how these local brands promote sustainability and best practice.

House of Lucent by Laura Ferreira.

The brand creates small ethically produced capsule collections mainly to ensure the minimisation of waste. Being a slow fashion label means taking sustainable practices into consideration with resources and the process required to make clothing. No fur, skins or polyester is used and the leather is from producers with good animal husbandry. Conscious decisions to further reduce wastage results in making blankets for the homeless and pencil cases for underprivileged schools from leftover materials. Social initiatives include the #IamWomanTee campaign designed by a group of female creatives to empower women through design and to support the Ihata Shelter for abused woman and children.

Instagram: @house_of_lucent

Lukhanyo Mdingi by Lukhanyo Mdingi.

The brand ethos is about sustainable textiles and sustainable partnerships, working hand- in-hand with those who source and create the textiles. For the last three years, the brand has been working closely with a local company which creates its own textiles from the method of felting- an ancient handcrafted technique of textile making using luxury yarns and fibres such as Angora kid mohair and merino wool. All the wool and mohair come from certified farms with sustainable practices – ensuring that each garment is rooted in honesty and best practice.

Instagram: @lukhanyomdingi

Akina by Laetitia Breedt.

Sustainable manufacturing is a core focus for this brand, where factories make use of LED lighting, energy saving adapters and recycle almost 60% of all factory waste. Locally sourced fabrics are a priority and the majority of swimwear fabrics, are 78% recycled. Other criteria include incorporating 50% organic cotton and plant based dyes. Swimwear packaging is 100% recycled and reusable plastic bags whilst sleepwear is cleverly packaged in ‘sleepwear bags’ made from sleepwear fabric off cuts. Shipping packaging is made of recycled plastic courier bags.

Instagram: @akinalabel

Tips and methods on how to align with sustainable practices

-As brands take more accountability for their impact on the environment, more and more designers are making the choice to create and produce clothing in a way that reduces their carbon footprint. Head of sustainability at Fashion Revolution, Paige Garbutt shares some tips and methods on how to align with sustainable practices:

-Brands should shift the focus from the quantity of units sold to the quality of units made.

-Brands should aim to produce all garments locally and use factories that treat and pay their staff fairly.

-Brands should shift to natural organic or recycled fabric where possible.

-Brands are encouraged to find value in their waste materials. Consider recycling or putting the waste materials to alternate use.

-Brands should consider offering a repair service, by doing this you will have a customer for life.

How to build a sustainable wardrobe

-Support brands that source local and natural fabrics. Buy less. Focus on wardrobe staples that are seasonless.

-Recycle old clothing, or donate clothing no longer in use. Return clothing to collection points for recycling at stores like H&M and the Garment Collection program.

-Consider swapping clothing out with family and friends. If ever you feel like getting ‘new’ clothes or getting rid of your old clothes try rent, loan or swop.

-Occasionally switch it up and buy second-hand or vintage fashion, instead of new purchases.

-Check labels to be more aware of fabric types -natural vs man-made- used to make garments.

Follow us on Instagram: @safashionhandbook & Twitter: @safashionbook

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