Being sustainable in Fashion & Apparel Industry.
What should we know about the common rules?

Like all industries, fashion industry has focused on sustainability because of high consumption, increasing competition while health of resources and environment – nature, people, business, finance – is dicreasing.

Table of contents

  • What is sustainable fashion?
  • Why should act?
  • What is sustainability for fashion brands?
  • What fashion brands expect from their supply chain
  • Sustainable Practices in Fashion Industry: Standarts and Certificates
  • Sustainable Fashion FAQs
  • What should we understand ?



What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological, and financial systems.[1] Sustainable fashion also deals with considering fashion from the perspective of many stakeholders – users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future dwellers on earth. Sustainable fashion, therefore, is the responsibility of citizens, the public sector, and the private sector. A key example of the need for systems thinking[2] in fashion is that the benefits of product-level initiatives, such as replacing one fiber type for a less environmentally harmful[3] option, is eaten up by increasing volumes of fashion products. An adjacent term to sustainable fashion is eco fashion.

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Why should act quickly?

Fashion industry has been already facing problems about its damage on environment last decades, and has changed focus sharply into  sustainability. Reasons can be deeper but if we would like to summarize,

Very cliché saying but good one,

” Your environment shapes who you are.”

a view from a brand side, what would be your environment who you take care to sustain?



What is sustainability for fashion brands?

We placed environment into 4;

1 – Consumer

After pandemic situation and lockdowns all over the globe, People tend to do consider/think about their environment; (their home, their family, their friends, their neighborhood, city, country, and their planet) that they ve never done in such intensity. As a result, consumer behaviors have changed sharply since then. Some brands was getting ready and they had started to write their own manifestos on sustainability in fashion even before. We will discuss this part deeply on coming articles.

being reliable, being responsive, being relevance, are keywords.

2 – Planet

The fashion industry has been accused to be the 2nd polluting industry on planet that harms its reputation. So,  available production methods is understood that were not sustainable and was going to decay. ( Dark Side of Textile )

New production methods are being shaped to dicrease waste  (  water – 120 litres of water is wasted to dye 1 kg of cotton -, C02, industrial wastes, pre-consumer and post consumer wastes )

reduce pollution, respect to nature are keywords.

3 – Sources /Water, Land, Air, Energy

Textiles are made of fibers. Annual fiber consumption is increased nearly 7 times/ x7 in last 60 years. Annual fiber consumption came over 110 million tons per year from 16 million tons and man-made fibers increased marketshare to %63 while cotton and cellulosic manmade fibers get %32 together. So, to solve %95 has been primarily.

Cotton has bad reputation by land and water usage in its production as polyester has bad reputation by using crude oil.

New sustainable fibers are being developed instead of conventionally produced fibers.

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reduce water consumption, reduce harmful chemical usage, sustainable materials are the keywords.

4- People

Fashion, apparel, yarn and fiber industries are labour heavy businesses and satisfaction of people is the main factor for balance in life. Actually, %99,9 of your t-shirts are handmade, automatic stiching technologies have not been developed enough yet.

“We are 7.8 billion people on the planet ( ) and 1,5 million workers in just yarn industry that creates 45 billion usd annually. while average wage of yarn industry is about 250 usd. European Union and USA total population is 779 Million and Total GDP is 35,7 K Billion that means %10 creates %43 money. ( average wage 3.800 usd)”

ethic labor, fairtrade are the keywords.

Bonus – Supply Chain

What fashion brands expect from their supply chain?

What brands demand from a  producer/supplier ? How they re-shape their supply-chain?

When we talk in environment of fashion and apparel production, the lead role belongs to fashion brands. Most of them wrote their own manifestos for sustainability and road map to their supply chain.

In common,

They want their supply chain to be accredited to their database, to rely on,

They make inspections to their suppliers/producers via 3rd reliable parties to be accepted in supply-chain and they are creating rating system that counts minor, major mistakes ( one of major is not being ethical to your workers and business partners as a supplier ) and suppliers efficiency ( quality of service and product that is given )

They want their suppliers to use more sustainable materials,

Organic Cotton, BCI Cotton or Recycled Cotton should be used instead of Regular/Conventional Cotton and Recycled PES should be replaced with Virgin PES.
( every brand has their own plan to “how to replace sustainable materials with conventional ones” )

They want their suppliers to consume more sustainable energy than before,

They want their suppliers to use less pollutioning methods in production,

Sustainable Practices in Fashion Industry: Standards and Certificates

Which are the certifications that proves the product/production is sustainable?

Main Standards and Certificates that brands rely on;

  • GOTS ( Global Organic Textile Standard )
  • OCS ( Organic Claim Standard )
  • GRS ( Global Recycled Standard )
  • RCS ( Recycled Claim Standard )
  • BCI ( Better Cotton Initiative )
  • European Flax

Also there are traceable products that is accepted by Brands as sustainable with FCL ( Fabric Certification Letter ) which is issued by the producer such as;

We also suggest you to check Sustainability FAQs.

To summarize and to answer the question ” what fashion brands expect from their supply chain?”

They want their suppliers to be more sustainable to survive in the business. It is nice for everyone to remember that ” sustainability is a team game. “