CAN FAST FASHION BE SUSTAINABLE?

woman wearing ASOS dress

Eco-friendly fashion brands have been on the rise for some time, but they’ve almost always been positioned as premium products. This means that the largest producers of waste in the fashion industry – high-volume, fast-fashion retailers – go unchecked.

H&M has been the most ethically vocal fast-fashion retailer, but critics suggest its practices don’t line up: the European brand’s Conscious Collection is made from 50 percent sustainable materials, such as recycled polyester and organic cotton. However, the Conscious Collection is so small that the brand’s total use of recycled materials is less than one percent of its range.

“Few, if any, brands have truly cracked sustainability,” said fashion expert Christina Binkley. “There’s no formidable oversight body to help the public determine how sustainable a product actually is. So while it’s great that brands are talking about it, the term is largely meaningless, and is often more marketing than truth in advertising.”

ASOS is about to shake this up by launching a training program on circular fashion. The well-known online retailer wants to educate its designers on sustainable fashion from the bottom up, making every part of the company educated on the subject. The brand is creating an internal culture shift, as opposed to marketing its new eco-friendly policies externally.

The program is run in partnership with the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF). 15 members of ASOS’s core design team will complete a series of workshops and discussions with CSF this month, and the results will be used to plan a training roll-out across all ASOS design departments.

The company has also announced a ban on cashmere, silk, down, and feathers across its platform by the end of January next year.