Until a few years ago, the words “sustainable fashion” barely made it to dinner conversations and were reserved for political platforms. Fast forward to today. With the looming threat of climate change and an influx of younger, more eco-conscious consumers who are heavily concerned and distinctly aware of the supply chain’s environmental impact, sustainability has become more than a buzzword, sparing no category. After being exposed as the second most-polluting industry in the world, the fashion industry is having a big turnaround. We’ve witnessed high-street brands such as Forever21 and TopShop—once considered big players in retail—file for bankruptcy. Surviving retail giants H&M and Zara have churned out environment-conscious labels, which include materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, combined with a strong push for sustainable programmes. Luxury fashion houses were quick to jump in, heavily peddling environmental causes and turning runways into a stage for certain advocacies. Fortunately, modern-day technological advancements have become a promising force in the future of the fashion industry, making it possible to reset and turn back the clock: recycle waste materials into “alternative fabrics,” reuse garments for long periods of time, and reduce single-use items.
Here in the Philippines, this surge of interest in sustainability is present on all fronts, with a growing number of local designers and brands giving their production cycles a rethink. The ‘buy local’ movement has reached our shores, with fashion entrepreneurs aiming to produce clothing and accessories in a ‘seed-to-assembly’ manner, in efforts to reduce environmental footprint. Small businesses supporting the livelihood of local communities are on the rise, due to a growing need from local consumers, many of whom are making a permanent lifestyle change and switching to eco-friendly purchases.