Sustainability has become more than a buzzword or trend in the fashion industry. Consumers are now taking into consideration not only the material a garment is made of but its entire life cycle — including production, supply chain, consumption, and the product’s afterlife.
At Miik, we believe sustainability is an ongoing process. From reducing our footprint through eco-friendly fabrics, ethical manufacturing, lasting quality and a less is more mindset. We’re always working and improving so that every day we can be better than before.
Getting a better understanding of what sustainable clothes and ethical fashion really mean is a genuine revolution that can make a big difference toward a more conscious future.
What makes clothing sustainable
When it comes to sustainability, there are many variables along the production process that you should consider to reduce the environmental impacts and promote social responsibility. Here are some examples of things you can start looking at to build a greener wardrobe:
Natural and organic materials: the most popular and obvious aspect of making sustainable clothing is the use of organic and biodegradable materials. Bamboo, linen, wool, hemp, and organic cotton are some examples of materials that are grown and harvested with less harmful pesticides and chemicals. Natural fibres are sustainable, biodegradable, and can compost back into the soil better.
Recycling and Upcycling: both are great practices towards a more sustainable fashion future. Using pre-existing materials is another option to avoid product waste. Sustainable companies are constantly looking for innovative and creative ways to repurpose deadstock fabric or prints to create new styles, rather than just having them thrown in the landfill.
Minimizing waste: Sustainable companies are investing their time and money to minimize waste as much as possible, from production to a product’s afterlife. Manufacturers are implementing water recycling processes to reduce the amount of water and energy used, making a limited number of garments and styles each season, and reducing the excessive use of plastic packaging by using recycled or compostable mailers.
At Miik, sustainability is built into the entire lifecycle of every garment we produce. We are always looking for solutions and ideas to minimize waste. Any finished garments that don’t pass our strict quality control inspection are sold at a substantial discount in our bi-annual Seconds Sale, one of our most popular sales of the year. For us, it's very important that no garment goes to waste. Also, many leftover fabrics are used to create design samples or donated to local fashion schools or charities.
Natural dyes: It’s also important to consider the environmental impact of dyes and textile treatment processes. Toxic dyes release around 20,000 different chemicals into the climate and are considered to be one of the fashion industry’s biggest problems. Natural dyes are derived from plants and other natural sources, are non-toxic, require less water, and are environmentally friendly. Certifications like OEKO-TEX 100 (which Miik has) show that the company’s production process is safer for you and the planet.
Locally made: support local brands that prioritize producing their clothes locally, rather than having them shipped overseas. Reducing the distance that a piece of clothing travels during production limits its carbon footprint, and can help better trace the supply chain to ensure that every garment worker receives fair wages and a safe, respectful working environment. That’s why Miik produces everything within a 50km radius of our Etobicoke studio. Even though producing sustainable clothing in Canada can cost more than your traditional fast fashion retailer, companies like Miik believe the benefits of keeping production close to home far outweigh the drawbacks.
Quality and durability: Sustainable brands emphasize quality over quantity. They believe in making timeless and versatile clothes. Eco-friendly fabrics usually tend to be more durable, avoiding the necessity of being frequently replaced or disposed of in landfills. High-quality clothes are made to last but can often be categorized as too expensive or not affordable, due to skewed perspectives on the true cost of ethical production from the fast fashion industry. Here are some tips on how to buy sustainable clothing on a budget.
Carbon neutrality: Even when adopting many eco-friendly practices, slow fashion brands can still leave an ecological footprint. That’s why many companies reach carbon neutrality by purchasing carbon offsets and encouraging their customers to do the same (which is why you see a carbon offset in your Miik cart!). Carbon offset programs financially support projects such as reforestation — which reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere.
Fair production: Eco-fashion also means ensuring fair, respectful, and safe working conditions. Fair-trade fashion initiatives focus on people over profit, and prioritize garment worker health in the workplace — both mental and physical.
That’s why what we wear matters. Sustainable fashion tries to solve environmental AND social issues. Customers are encouraged to think critically about their clothing choices and consider their purchases more carefully. True fashion and style are much more than mindless consumption and constant purchasing of the next trendy piece.
Greenwashing in the fashion industry
While people are getting more conscious about sustainable fashion, many businesses are taking advantage of the rising popularity of sustainability to deceive customers into believing that their company is sustainable, when they are not.
Greenwashing is when businesses offer misleading information in a way to seem more environmentally friendly or less damaging than they are. Often, they claim they are doing good or making a difference when they are not. The term originated in the 1960s during the “Save the Towel” movement. It began when the hotel industry started asking their guests to reuse their towels to save the environment when in reality it was to save their laundry costs.
Greenwashing in fashion comes through deceptive certifications and vague marketing words like eco-conscious, recycled, responsible, vegan, etc., to associate their brand with sustainability.
Sustainable clothing can be a lot of things, and true sustainable practices should always be celebrated — but just because the brand says they are sustainable, doesn’t mean they are. As a consumer, it is important to get to know a business and ask them questions before making a purchase, so you feel educated on the company and avoid the risk of being “greenwashed.”
Here are some questions we recommend researching on a clothing business before making a purchase – and if you cannot find the info readily on their website, they’ll tell you upon reaching out:
- Where are your products made?
- Where does the fabric come from?
- What type of fabric is used to make your clothes?
- What does your brand do with its production waste?
- What initiatives does your brand have in place to protect the environment and your employees?
If you don’t get any answers to these types of questions, it’s likely that the company is not transparent with its production process and has something to hide. If their philosophy or answers don’t resonate with you — that can be a red flag.
What makes a fashion brand truly sustainable is the commitment to always be working towards a greener and more transparent process, from production to distribution and consumption. By choosing green fashion you have the power to create a better future for both people and the planet.
With much love,
Your Miik team 🤍