Sustainable Fashion Breaking New Norms

In recent years ethical fashion has become more popular than ever before, forcing major brands to become even more transparent in their fabrics and manufacturing. There has never been a more conscientious generation of consumers, with millions now seeking out clothing that is fair trade and sustainable. Second thoughts for the welfare of others and the concern for the planet are two major components to the reason behind the skyrocketing popularity of eco fashion. With signs that a younger generation of consumers will demand something different, and a wealth of new brands are offering it, eco fashion has well and truly taken off.

Eco fashion is now a $5 billion industry, whereas just ten years ago it hadn’t even cracked $1 billion, it has grown 300% in a decade. This might still be a small share of global revenue, but its growth signals a major shift. The growing awareness about ethical fashion among consumers through social media and celebrities eco fashion is being seen more and more as a desirable option. A new era has already begun with many well-known brands rejuvenating the market with newest fashion and products in sustainable fashion segment.

Millennial and Younger Generation Driving Growth for Sustainable Fashion

A 2016 study by ASI Ad Impressions showed that while only 38% of consumers aged 45 – 54 looked favorably at sustainable products, 58% of those 18 – 21 cared whether marketers offered environmentally friendly products. It is mainly the young consumers who are driving this shift in attitudes. As per some latest reports around 44% of younger millennials in the 17-26 age range want have eco-friendly fabrics used in clothes they worn. In comparison, just 34% of Generation X and 30% of baby boomers said it was important to them. Even for young women, sustainability was still a low priority and around 80% mainly looked for low prices. Up to 15% more – that’s what Generation Z is willing to pay for ethically manufactured and environmentally friendly fashion. This, according to the Sourcing Journal, is a product of the generation’s social outlook. Gen Z and Millennials alike are buying less. They are interested in products that meet their values, while also being durable, and because of this, they are willing to spend more on a product than previous generations.

However Eva Kruse, chief executive of Global Fashion Agenda, which organises the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, feels that sustainability or responsible innovation is by far the biggest trend in the industry right now and it’s not a philanthropic quest it is a business development.

What Is Sustainable Apparel?

Simply put – it is apparel that has a minimal impact on the environment. Made from recycled fibers, fair trade cotton, and organic dyes; apparel that offers healthier work environments and fewer chemicals are considered sustainable. Apparel manufacturers and retailers like econscious (apparel pictured above), reports ASI, have focused their business on organic production. Using organically sourced natural fibers reduces carbon dioxide in the air, and releases fewer greenhouse gasses by removing chemical fertilizers and herbicides. Other companies are choosing to reduce their environmental impact by utilizing recycled polyesters. Relying on PET materials (like those found in water bottles), this type of sourcing removes excess plastics from landfills – and oceans. Recycling materials also includes taking discarded clothing and upcycling. Renewal Workshop believes that not everything belongs in the trash. Diverting tons of clothing and textiles from landfills, this method of sustainable clothing involves recovering value while reducing waste.

What Is Ethical Apparel?

While environmentalism is a part of ethical apparel production, it is only a part of the whole. Buyers are not only concerned with materials – but with how it’s made. Avoiding unethical producers that employ manufacturing practices including; the use of sweat shops, child labour, or animal testing, is a priority.

Consumers want to know what they are buying?

With growing awareness among consumers who want to know the complete cycle of product right from the seed to the shelf stage retailers are now looking to source from manufacturers that meet workplace standards and offer a decent living wage to employees. Awareness Prompting Retailers to be Highly Cautious… Companies filling their shelves with unethically produced clothing have found themselves at the center of scrutiny – especially on social media. Thus, there is a growing number of companies, including Target, that publically list their sources, including tier 2 apparel manufacturers. Aside from companies that produce and sell their apparel themselves, ethically minded third party retailers want to reach their target audience.

With a commonly higher price-tag, retailers will need to highlight the ecofriendliness and ethical aspects of the apparel to reach consumers. Letting them know that the product will not only meet their needs, but also offer a connection to their values is the key for any company marketing sustainable products. Sustainable companies are a beacon to the Gen Z consumer who is dedicated to researching a product or company before filling their cart. If they are aware that a piece is comparable in both cost and quality, they will choose the ethical option every time – because they feel it is the right thing to do.


Facilitated by social media, consumers have become more vocal regarding sustainable issues, making it imperative for retailers to offer visibility over their material procurement and apparel production practices. Accordingly, the growth in sustainable fashion has come from retailers launching dedicated sustainable collections (such as Mango’s Committed collection), broadening existing ones (such as Zara’s Join Life and H&M’s Conscious collections), and expanding the presence of sustainable products in core collections.

However, as shoppers become increasingly considered with their disposable incomes and buy less but better – a product’s sustainable credentials alone are not enough to encourage shoppers to part with their cash. Sustainable collections must stand up to core fashion collections in terms of design, quality, fit and fashion credibility – a fact some retailers have already woken up to.

As fast-fashion giants Zara, H&M and Asos have grown sustainable ranges, they have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of design, dismantling perceptions of unappealing, one-tone sustainable collections. In addition, collections are increasingly designed and marketed in line with wider collections, easing consumer adoption and justifying prices. New entrant, Mango Committed’s women’s average price is £45.19, £5.40 higher than Mango’s main collection, but the collection’s distinctive design and premium feel helps justify these. Similarly, H&M recently launched a higher-priced Exclusive collection for H&M Conscious with a glamorous party in LA, further breaking down perceptions of rough-hewn sustainable collections.

ECO FASHION Gives Boost to Secondhand Apparel Market

Approaching this phenomenon from an entirely different perspective is the used and secondhand clothing market, which is an $18 billion industry and is forecasted to grow about 11% per year. Young children grow out of clothes quickly and not everyone has the traditional hand-me-down networks. Some companies, including America’s largest secondhand fashion retail marketplace, are major players in the preloved clothing market and provide a way to swap well-maintained clothes while giving shoppers the opportunity to enjoy every brand they ever wanted to own. Other emerging market segments include the big-box marketplaces and subscription-box startups looking to counter the overwhelming choices in present-day malls. Dia&Co, for example, is a subscription box company that caters to plus-size women (a segment that makes up 40% of all American women). The brand offers a monthly personal styling and try-and-buy delivery service in which customers can try on and select from up to five hand-picked items. Companies like Dia&Co. understand preferences of each customer, and its business model allows for high customer engagement.

This market segment is seeing immense competition, and with backing from investors like Sequoia, the company’s customer base has multiplied 35 times over the last year. These types of companies are changing the approach to e-commerce entirely.

As fast-fashion giants Zara, H&M and Asos have grown sustainable ranges, they have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of design, dismantling perceptions of unappealing, one-tone sustainable collections. In addition, collections are increasingly designed and marketed in line with wider collections, easing consumer adoption and justifying prices. New entrant, Mango Committed’s women’s average price is £45.19, £5.40 higher than Mango’s main collection, but the collection’s distinctive design and premium feel helps justify these. Similarly, H&M recently launched a higher-priced Exclusive collection for H&M Conscious with a glamorous party in LA, further breaking down perceptions of rough-hewn sustainable collections.

Brands Working in Direction
Raven + Lily

Created to alleviate poverty among women, Raven + Lily employs at risk women and empowers them to earn a living for themselves and their families. Raven + Lily prides themselves on using recycled or repurposed materials, which helps alleviate the waste that is usually created by the fashion industry.


Symbology is all about preserving traditional art forms in each of their products. Wanting to make ethical fashion the norm instead of the exception, Heyl has combined modern designs with textile arts worldwide.

Brook There

Brook There is creating low impact lingerie that not only looks good but is good for our environment. All of their garments are housed in the same facility in which they were cut and sewn.


Woman go through approximately 17,000 tampons during their lifetime. The women behind THINX had a better solution for your time of the month. Instead of having to use tampons and pads they have created underwear that you can menstruate in.


PeopleTree is a pioneer in ethical and sustainable fashion. Their mission is to be 100% Fair Trade throughout their supply chain by purchasing the majority of their products from marginalized producer groups in developing worlds with the bulk coming from India.

Industry Feedback

“The products that we offer are very sustainable. We offer sustainable clothes against polyester. We have poly cottons used for men, women and formal wear. The demand for sustainable products in India is growing especially in export sector. The Indian apparel companies are looking for sustainable fabrics like poly cotton, rayons, and viscose. We are expecting 20% growth.

(Atul. J. Haria, A.J. Textiles)”

“The products that we offer are very sustainable. We offer BCI cotton, cotton, rayon and focusing more on catering to the international market. The Indian apparel companies are looking for sustainable fabrics with latest trends. We are expecting 20% growth. We are well certified from BCI so all our products come with complete traceability. Along with that we are using the best machines like from Picanol.

(K.S. Lakshminath, Aditya Exports.)”

“Founded in 2009, V Lad is a luxury home décor company committed to using only the finest materials and traditional craft techniques to produce furnishings inspired by tradition and designer for modern lifestyles. We have been manufacturing Devore, which is a fabric that comes out using burn out technique and is particularly used in velvets, where a mixed-fibre material undergoes a chemical process to dissolve the cellulose fibers to create a semitransparent pattern against more solidly woven fabric. This technique is new to India and only our company is producing it. Apart from this we also have cellulose fibers. He informed that the demand for sustainable fabrics is high in the International markets. He also expects good growth from market.

(Vijay Lad, V-Lad‘s Exports Llp)”

Why sustainability is so important to fashion‘s future:
1. Pollution

After oil and agriculture, fast fashion is the third most pollutant industry in the world. Manufacturing and shipping clothes uses massive amounts of toxic chemicals and leaves tonnes of waste. Fast fashion also creates a life cycle problem: the average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, or 11 million tonnes in the US alone. Fashion companies with an unethical carbon footprint will end up paying the price as the ethical fashion movement grows: from levies imposed by governments and international waste-reducing bodies, to a bad public image.

2. Scarce resources

A pair of jeans and a t-shirt takes 5000 gallons of water to produce – 12 times what the average American drinks in a year. Top scientists warn that a water crisis is looming, and the World Economic Forum rated water scarcity the single most important global risk over the next ten years. Companies who can adapt to sustainable practices, using less water, will earn respect from their customers – and will be well placed to survive when water supplies are less abundant, and more expensive.

3. Employees

All too often, the fashion industry falls short in paying a living wage and providing safe conditions for its workers. Who can forget the 2013 factory collapses in Bangladesh, which killed over 1500 people, and caused outrage at the mass market brands who manufactured there? Customers want to feel great about their clothes, and that includes feeling great about how they were made. Fair wages and happy workers are ethical policies – and they are a strong selling point.

Indian Textile Companies Taking Up Sustainbility Route

Textile Major GHCL, (Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd.) recently unveiled Rekoop which is made by recycling PET bottles into the most eco-friendly polyester fiber in the world, manufactured by Reliance Industries Limited. This fiber is blended with cotton, spun into a Chief Value Cotton yarn, woven and then processed into an ultra-soft fabric. The bedding made from this fabric is truly sustainable and free of any hazardous chemicals. Molecular tagging of the recycled fiber through the CertainT platform of Applied DNA Sciences secures source verification and complete traceability.

“At GHCL, we are always very conscious of the impact of our business on the society and environment. Plastic pollution is an increasing cause for concern all across the world. A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will increase by another 20% by 2021. A mere 9% of these bottles are recycled, with the rest finding their way into landfills and into oceans, leading to an environmental crisis if nothing is done about it. By collaborating with Reliance Industries Limited and Applied DNA Sciences we are taking a small step towards reducing plastic pollution. The customer today is increasingly becoming conscious of the environment and is shifting to environmentally friendly products. We anticipate a huge demand for the “REKOOP” products especially by the ecologically conscious buyers,” said RS Jalan, MD, GHCL.

Rekoop as a concept aims at using recycling as a means to make the world a happier and healthier place. Recycling lowers the demand for petroleum extraction, reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and decreases the overall carbon footprint. It also aids in landfill reduction and conservation of water, energy and the environment. Operating its home textiles facility in Vapi, in the state of Gujarat, India, GHCL has integrated the new CertainT verified PET fiber into its production process, from spinning to weaving to finished processed fabric. One of the leading manufacturers in home textiles in India, the plant boasts an annual production capacity of 36 million meters of finished fabric per annum.

The company feels that the demand for such products will rise as the market has grown and the consumers are ready to pay for highest quality goods provided with eco-friendly connection. In the last few years the growth for sustainability has been a bit slow, but now that people are becoming aware of it the demand can grow at a faster rate and the reason for this is awareness by campaigns such as Make in India, and companies like Reliance which support sustainability plans. Since recycled fibres go into the making of Rekoop cotton rich bedding, which makes them sustainable molecular tagging of the recycled fiber secures their authenticity and traceability to the origin. This goes beyond mere paper or system oriented traceability. GHCL is one of India’s leading manufacturers of Home Textiles, with in-house spinning unit having capability to manufacture multiple varieties of 100% cotton and blended yarns at various facilities. GHCL is known as perennial innovators in bed linen category with some of recent innovations in the category of ‘sheets’ which include the perfect fit, Easysheet, Microtwill, celliant, exl wrinkle free sheets, versatile–reversible sheets, soft wash percale and sustainable fibre dyed sheets.

Lenzing Group Promising Bigger Role in Sustainable Fashion

Lenzing‘s fibers are made from natural wood. They are botanic products derived from renewable sources and processed with unique resourceconserving technologies. The introduction of LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded Viscose fibers marks a new milestone in Lenzing‘s sustainability journey. LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded Viscose fibers have a low environmental impact as they are derived from sustainable wood and pulp, coming from certified and controlled sources. LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibers have been certified with the EU Ecolabel meeting high environmental standards throughout their life cycle from raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal. The manufacturing of LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibers generates up to 50% lower emissions and water impact compared to generic, informed Avinash Mane, Head of Commercial TX & NW, SA Region AMEA 

ECOVERO™ fibers are produced using pulp, which is derived from the renewable resource wood as raw material. Lenzing purchases wood and pulp derived from responsibly managed forests and certified to come from sustainable sources. A special manufacturing system enables LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded Viscose fibers to be identified in the final product, even after long textile processing and conversion steps through the value chain. Environmentally conscious consumers can be assured that retailers and brands are incorporating genuine LENZING™ ECOVERO™ eco-responsible Viscose in their products, informed Avinash. He also mentioned that the demand for sustainable products is increasing. “We are getting a good response for our modal range, dope dyed colour range which also involves saving of water which is used in the processing and colouration and ultimate products which are coming out have excellent fastness properties and saves a lot of water and chemical, he asserted. Lenzing holds 1,274 patent applications and patents for a total of 215 patent groups in 49 countries. 192 proven experts conduct research on sustainable fiber innovations. In fiscal year 2017, the company invested an impressive total of € 55.4m in Research & Development.

Aditya Birla Group Offering Wide Range in Sustainable Products
Dilip Gaur, Business Director _ Pulp & Fibre Business.

The Aditya Birla Group is the world‘s largest producer of viscose staple fibre (VSF), which is man-made, biodegradable fibre with characteristics akin to cotton. VSF is widely used in apparels, home textiles, dress material, knitted wear and non-woven applications. Viscose – a regenerated cellulose fibre and is produced from natural source. Among major staple fibres, viscose staple fibre (VSF) has witnessed highest growth in the past due to perfect fit both for textile and non-textile applications. We believe that placing sustainability at the core of our business will help us maintain a competitive edge and help create a better world, said Dilip Gaur, Business Director – Pulp & Fibre Business.

VSF is made mainly from renewable resources, namely forestbased raw materials. They have a high level of moisture absorption properties, as well as a silk-like look and feel. There are different types of VSF used for different purposes, and they can also be mixed with other types of textile fibre to create interesting combinations. Some other products that are being offered by the company includes Birla Spun shades dyed fibres which is made by a unique technique that places the colour pigments in to the fibre itself. This avoids conventional dyeing in the downstream value chain, which saves 30 litres of water for every metre of fabric processed.

Birla Modal is a second generation cellulose fibre with a high wet modulus of viscose genre which satisfies a minimum value of tenacity at 5% elongation when wet. This fibre has exceptional properties and follows the Modal Standards defined by The International Bureau for the Standardization of Manmade fibres. The fibre is known for its unique soft feel and good dimensional stability. The fibre retains its freshness even after repeated washes and also has excellent bendability with cotton.

Arvind Group Promises Sustainability With Green Line of Denims

Arvind‘s fidelity towards sustainability is visible through its responsible approach towards production. The company offers several product ranges which are made from combination of one or more sustainable raw materials. These are made from organic cotton, BCI cotton, PCW (postconsumer waste), recycled polyester, coffee grounds and sometime with 100% natural vegetable dyed denim using energy-efficient and water efficient processes. The company’s newly launched NEO Denim uses hardly any water in its dyeing process.

Arvind Ltd. is also a founding and active member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition – which is working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. The company has successfully implemented Higg Index Environmental & Social modules across its seven manufacturing locations that sneak look into their vision of Indigo propelled way of life.

Premier Fine Linens Offering Linacel

Premier Fine Linens Private Limited is a part of the 65-year-old Premier group of companies, which comprises of 7 Spinning units (375,000 spindles) and 2 Weaving mills integrated with Processing and Finishing with a turnover of $250 Million. The company specializes in Bed linens made of Sateen, Dobby, Jacquard, Percale, Yarn dyed in a range of thread counts from 200 to 1250 using both plied or single yarns with embellishments like Fagotting, Marrowing, Fancy Hems and Embroidery. Premier complies with social and ecological obligations with a modern Effluent Treatment plant wherein it reuses almost 99% of water and have a huge rain water harvesting system to collect more than 5 million liters of Water/annum.

“Linacel is the latest innovation that we have introduced and we are the only licensee for it. It can absorb moisture more swiftly and keeps the body cool. It is ideal for garments also and is manufactured in an eco-friendly manner, said V Geetha, Asst Manager of the company. Linacel is a blend of Linen and Lyocel or Tencel with 60% of Lyocel or Tencel with 40% of Linen. Linacel has been crafted to create a unique blend with a soft hand and beautiful drapeabilit . Woven with a blend of Linen and cellulosic fibers like Lyocel or tencel it is available in a wide range of weaves , textures and designs ranging from sateen , percale , yarn dyed , dobby and Jacquard. It is manufactured under strict ecological requirements in compliance with OekoTex 100 certification. Another product offered by the company is ECORA, a new line of exquisite, completely organic and luxurious bed linen.

Lyocell Fiber Market to reach valuation of US$1,179.5 million by 2020

Demand in the global Lyocell fiber market is primed to expand at a formidable CAGR of 7.9% during the forecast period of 2014 to 2020. Apart from the apparel and textile industry, the usage of lyocell fibers are also gaining traction from it being manufactured in an ecofriendly manner. A number of countries have come together realizing the negative environmental effects of various industries and are encouraging usage and innovation for products that are not only manufactured using ecofriendly measures as well as are biodegradable. Players of the lyocell fiber market have realized this trend and are marketing their products as better than their alternatives, as they are produced using natural wood.

Some of the key players in the global lyocell fiber market are Acelon Chemicals & Fiber Corporation, Lenzing AG, Smartfiber AG, Aditya Birla Group, Chon Bang Company Limited, Qingdao Textiles Group Fiber Technology Co., Ltd., and Weiqiao Textile Company Limited. New product development in the medical sector and growing trend of eco-friendly fiber is anticipated to boost the lyocell fiber market. The lyocell fiber market is primed for a profitable future with the revenue estimated to reach a valuation of US$1,179.5 million by 2020, as reassured by a recent business intelligence study from Transparency Market Research (TMR). Rigorous emphasis on product innovation is a reflection of growing competition among the leading players. Lyocell fiber is used by the textile industry to manufacture clothes such as denim, casual wear, lingerie, socks, sweater, towel, baby diapers, bedsheet, and men‘s dress shirts.

The fiber can also be blended with linen, cotton, silk, wool, and others to formulate specialty products such as medical dressings and conveyor belts. On the other hand, the apparel industry utilizes the dry durability of lyocell fiber to manufacturer long lasting products for their customers. As these products are made using non-toxic and organic solvents, they have no harmful properties. The market for lyocell fiber has been segmented into apparels, home textiles, and others including baby diapers and surgical products. More than half of the total demand is currently coming from the apparel segment. That being said, home textiles such as bedsheets, curtains, and drapes are gaining demand on the back of increased disposable income of populations living in metropolitan areas in the emerging economies. In the near future, improved lifestyle and emphasis on ecofriendly products is expected to boost the Asia Pacific lyocell fiber market. In addition to that, industrial and technical sectors are further fueling the demand, producing non-woven products such as wipes, filters, and hygiene tools.

Names of Sustainable Brands

1. Wild Roses
2. Ankura
3. Nomad by Elroy
4. Vivienne Westwood
5. Zero Waste Daniel
6. Amour Vert
7. ASOS Eco Edit
8. Encircled
9. Frank and Faith
10. H&M‘s Conscious Collection
11. In the know
12. Indigenous
13. Komodo
14. Love Justly
15. Nomads
16. Onno
17. People Tree
18. Round Plus Square
19. Seasalt
20. Slumlove
21. Temperate
22. The Green Hub
23. We are Though
24. Zady
25. M. Patmos
26. Minna
27. Study New York
28. Fonnesbech
29. Tictail
30. Siizu
31. Matter Prints
32. Kestan
33. Fat Face
34. Gather and see
35. Everlane
36. PACT Apparel
37. ABLE
38. Hackwith Design Hack
39. Outdoor Voices
40. Groceries Apparels
41. MATTER Prints
42. Mayamiko
43. Anekdot
44. Kings of Indigo
45. Kowtow
46. Aiayu
47. Adidas originals by Parley
48. Emily and Fin
49. Kuhl
50. Tentree

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