Sustainable fashion is a new way of looking at clothing and accessories, in contrast with what is called “fast fashion”. Let’s try to get it clear: the term “fast fashion” refers to the fast consumption of clothing and accessories, which season after season are replaced by those of the next collection.

Is fast fashion going through a crisis?

Fast fashion implies an industry that quickly produces new collections to provide new designs each season, with the result of filling the shop windows with new clothes and accessories. It needs to be constantly “nourished” with demand for consumption, so it is particularly aggressive from a commercial point of view.

This inevitably leads to the price war that impairs the quality (and in some cases, unfortunately, also the working conditions). Nevertheless, consumption often does not hold up this frenetic production pace.

Global Fashion Agenda” is the main non-profit organization that brings together many fashion brands interested in the growth of a circular economy, in a development that is sustainable and respectful of the environment. It estimates that:

  • 73% of the clothes produced around the world end up in landfills or are incinerated;
  • less than 1% of the materials used to produce clothes are recovered to produce new ones;
  • less than 15% of the discarded clothes are collected for recycling.

Numbers that should make us think, especially if related to the economic importance of fashion market. As well as many other sectors, fashion is going through a period of great changes, mainly due to the ever-increasing attention of the consumer towards the product.

The consumer is still seen as a passive human being that buys goods he/she doesn’t need in a compulsive way, driven by the desire to homologate. But market data support the contrary: a new purchasing awareness is spreading, giving rise to buyers who want to know where the items come from and how they were produced. The answers to these questions may be fundamental in creating a purchase decision.

Recently, “Vestiaire collective”, a second-hand market for luxury clothes and accessories, presented the results of a survey which showed that around 80% of consumers believe that sustainability is a key factor within the fashion world.

Moreover, it seems that the so-called Millennials and Generation Z are the ones particularly active in the search for sustainable fashion. An attitude that bodes well for the future.

Sustainable fashion: circularity, reuse, exchange and recycling

  1. Sustainable fashion provides a concept of circularity, its cornerstones being reuse, exchange and recycling. A fashion that is no longer disposable but that recovers itself and its products to create new ones or to give them a new life, through swap parties (barter deals for second-hand clothes) in a vintage market or through the collection of old clothes.
  2. Sustainable fashion promotes the reuse, recycling and exchange of clothes. Kate Middleton, the future Queen of England, teaches us that there is nothing wrong in reusing clothes. She has legitimized the reuse of clothes and accessories also (and especially) on official occasions, gaining broad consent. She also involved her children in this practice, passing clothes from her elder son George to his little sister Charlotte, or even reusing clothes that belonged to their father William, the heir to the throne of England. Reusing clothes, perhaps after having them adapted by a tailor, is one of the best practices for sustainable fashion.
  3. It favors the choice of raw materials that respect the environment. Consumers’ awareness is increasing. Before buying clothes or accessories, they wonder where the raw materials come from. Are they natural materials? Is their origin certified as respectful of the environment? Do they have low-impact production and disposal approaches?
  1. Sustainable fashion provides a concept of circularity, its cornerstones being reuse, exchange and recycling. A fashion that is no longer disposable but that recovers itself and its products to create new ones or to give them a new life, through swap parties (barter deals for second-hand clothes) in a vintage market or through the collection of old clothes.
  2. Sustainable fashion promotes the reuse, recycling and exchange of clothes. Kate Middleton, the future Queen of England, teaches us that there is nothing wrong in reusing clothes. She has legitimized the reuse of clothes and accessories also (and especially) on official occasions, gaining broad consent. She also involved her children in this practice, passing clothes from her elder son George to his little sister Charlotte, or even reusing clothes that belonged to their father William, the heir to the throne of England. Reusing clothes, perhaps after having them adapted by a tailor, is one of the best practices for sustainable fashion.
  3. It favors the choice of raw materials that respect the environment. Consumers’ awareness is increasing. Before buying clothes or accessories, they wonder where the raw materials come from. Are they natural materials? Is their origin certified as respectful of the environment? Do they have low-impact production and disposal approaches?
  4. It involves production processes that respect the environment and the workers involved. Consumers evaluate the business ethics of fashion brands. Does the company responsibly manage the supply chain? Does it respect the workers? How do they organize logistics? A committed consumer chooses to buy only from companies that work according to sustainability principles in terms of raw materials, production and distribution management.
  5. It does not follow fashion trends but creates a system of values that passes from generation to generation and that is strongly focused on the vintage articles. And there is a sector in which vintage and reuse are really fashionable: accessories. The charm of an old leather bag or belt is really irresistible, because it carries a story, experience, style and thus a real soul. Like a bag or a jacket passed down from grandparents to their grandchildren.

Vegetable tanning with tannin: a 100% sustainable process

  1. The accessories made of vegetable tanned leather are very durable and this makes them perfect for reuse and exchange. Tannin chemically binds to the molecules of the hide, making it breathable and absorbent but also very resistant, fostering its application to make bags and accessories that are handed down from generation to generation. There is a thriving market of accessories and clothes in “second hand” leather, loved by consumers precisely because they embody the very concept of circular economy.
  2. Tannin supports local economy, providing employment to rural and mountain communities that would otherwise disappear. In addition, they encourage the protection of forests, even by local authorities, for a more conscious management.
  3. Vegetable tanning process involves the use of tannin as the only tanning agent. Tannin is a 100% natural substance: it is, in fact, extracted from wood (in particular Chestnut and Quebracho wood) through a process that includes only hot water, without any chemical additive. Furthermore, it imparts to the leather completely natural colors, differently shaded depending on the type of tannin used: from light beige to dark brown.
  4. Tannin is the most important actor in vegetable tanning, a process that recalls a long Italian artisan tradition that is difficult to imitate. Based in their thriving center in Tuscany, between the provinces of Pisa and Florence, master tanners continuously promote this ancient and noble artisan workmanship. Moreover, local tanneries created the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium in order to gather their strength. Over the years, vegetable tanned leather does not age and does not get ruined but it absorbs the events of our life experiences, turning every accessory into an absolutely unique object.

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