The fashion and design industry is taking a leading role in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable fashion in modern society. According to Gwilt, scientists have warned the business community that their activities may have a devastating impact on the environment.1 Issues such as climate change and global warming were not taken seriously in the recent past because the global society had not contemplated their real impact on our environment and the lives of people.
However, the increasing cases of destructive cyclones, prolonged droughts that are often followed by heavy rains and destructive floods, increase cases of desertification, and increasing level of coastline waters caused by the melting of polar ice indicate that global warming and climate change are real concerns whose consequences cannot be ignored.
Stakeholders in various sectors have learned that this issue of environmental conservation and sustainability cannot be ignored anymore. The fashion and design industry has been part of the past trends that led to massive destruction of the environment. The players in this industry created a trend where shoes, clothes, jewelry, and such related items do not stay in fashion for long. The more new designs are created, the more people shift from using one line of the products to the new one.
The impact was a massive amount of . A time has come when players in this industry must take lead in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the fashion industry. As they try to meet the ever-changing needs of customers in the market, one of the guiding principles that should inform their actions is the need to protect the environment. In this paper, the aim is to discuss the eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the fashion industry and forces that may affect the efforts of the stakeholders in this industry as they try to embrace the practice.
The concept of sustainability and eco-friendly practices are gaining popularity among scholars and in the business community. It is becoming clear that the natural environment has its limits and its ability to sustain human activities and human existence directly depends on our current practices. The more the environment becomes polluted, the more it is becoming sustainable. The only way of ensuring that the sustainability of the environment is assured is to embrace eco-friendly practices. The following are the specific goals that the researcher seeks to achieve by the end of this study.
To determine the role played by design industry in in fashion;
To identify the historic, social, economic, and cultural contexts of eco-friendly and sustainable fashion;
To determine the impact of eco-friendly practices on the art and fashion industry.
The global community currently appreciates the fact that our environment can only be sustainable if there is a genuine effort to conserve it through eco-friendly practices. As Rinaldi and Testa state, when meeting the current needs, it is critical to ensure that the approach used does not jeopardize the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.2 The industrial revolution changed the world completely, especially when coal and oil became major sources of fuel in the industrial sector.
Little has changed in terms of finding alternative eco-friendly energy sources. However, the environment has been massively affected by the trend of constant pollution from various sectors of the economy. The fashion and design industry, just like many other industries, has realized that the current trend is unsustainable and an urgent solution must be found to address this problem. That is why designers all over the world are now coming up with designs, which can last long and pose minimal threat to the ecosystem.
Historically, eco-friendly and sustainable fashion has taken a great path to be what it is today. In the past, designers have tried to be very creative, but their central focus was to come up with products that meet the expectations of their trendy customers. The issue of environmental conservation was never considered important because the business community did not believe in it much. However, the trend started changing in the late 20th century when the impact of climate change and global warming started becoming clear.
Scientists explained that the massive emission of greenhouse gases, destruction of the vegetative cover, and constant environmental pollution by various contaminants and non-biodegradable substances were the leading causes of climate change. In the 21st century, the stakeholders in various sectors of the economy in the United States, and many other countries around the world, are now trying to find a solution to the problem of environmental pollution. The government is enacting laws to regulate emissions and effluents from the companies. Designers on the other hand are now as a way of enhancing sustainability.
The social forces have also played a role in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable design practices in design. The society is becoming conscious of the dangers of environmental pollution and the importance of engaging in eco-friendly practices. Gwilt says that eco-friendly designs in the fashion industry are becoming a popular trend in most of the developed economies around the world.3 This is so because the majority of the middle class have a college education.
They understand the need to conserve the environment by engaging in sustainable practices. Their growing support for eco-friendly shoes, clothes, bags, houses, among others is creating a new wave that is defining the trend in the design industry. Designers are now keen on coming up with eco-friendly products because of the social forces in the current society. Anyone wearing an eco-friendly shoe or dress is considered trendy. As such, the manufacturers have to shift their focus to what has become popular in the market.
The designers have to ensure that they use materials that customers prefer. This is specifically the case among teenagers and young adults. Figure 2 shows some of the dresses, which have become very popular among teenagers and young adults. The dresses are simple in design, but the fact that they are made of materials that do not pose any significant threat to the environment makes them very popular.
The problem with this market segment is that once they shift from one design to another, they completely avoid the other designs considered old fashion. It means that companies must now find ways of producing cloths, which are eco-friendly because it is the current trend. It is a massive force that has played a significant role in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the design industry within the country and abroad.
The economic forces have driven companies to shift their production strategies and practices in line with emerging trends. According to Gwilt, in the real estate industry, are in great demand in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia-Pacific.4 Customers are willing to pay high prices for designs that can ensure that houses are developed in a way that enables them to integrate with the natural environment. The economic benefits of designing these eco-friendly houses are good motivation for the designers to embrace the new practice. In the apparel industry, eco-friendly shoes, clothes, and bags are fetching higher prices than the older designs made of non-biodegradable materials.
Other than the growing demand for eco-friendly products in the modern market, there is also the issue of sustainability. There are three pillars of sustainability, which are the planet, people, and profits. A firm cant achieve success if any of these pillars is not sustainable. A company may have impressive profits and satisfied customers, but if the environment within which it is operating is chocking with pollutants, then at one point its operations may slowly stop. To stop such an eventuality, companies are keen on protecting their environment. It is the only way of securing their future operations irrespective of the industry where they operate.
The cultural forces are also playing a critical role in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable practices in the fashion industry. A new culture is emerging that is very sensitive towards environmental conservation. Corporate social responsibility is currently associated with practices that conserve the environment.5 The culture of giving back to the environment is pushing stakeholders in the fashion industry to be conscious about the materials used in their designs.
Having long-lasting shoes or dresses is not only meant to benefit customers financially but also to conserve the environment. The longer the shoes last, the lesser the amount of waste that is created. This is a new cultural practice that companies are forced to embrace. In the past, their focus was to have products that do not last long in fashion as a way of increasing their sales and profitability. However, companies are now of boosting their sales and profitability without exposing the environment to an uncontrollable amount of waste.
The practice is gaining massive popularity in various industries as firms try to promote their image in the market. It is important to look at some of the design-related industries where the practice is currently common. The following are some of the sectors that have taken leading roles in promoting eco-friendly and sustainable practices.