Sustainable Style 2017

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This post first appeared on Fashion Takes Action. See it here.

2016 was a pretty big year for sustainable style. With more and more brands like Reformation coming into the public consciousness, more and more celebrities using their substantial platforms to bring awareness to the cause, and more and more organizations like Fashion Takes Action leading the way, it’s safe to say that sustainable style is now part of the zeitgeist.

And while 2016 may have been the year that much of the public became aware of sustainable fashion, there’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to changing hearts and minds. So by looking back at how far we’ve come during the last year, our hope is that we’ll be inspired to surge ahead with what’s exciting and what can be accomplished in 2017!

Milestones achieved in 2016:

  1. Design Forward: Fashion Takes Action’s runway show in June proved that style can still be a priority when approaching fashion with a eye on environmental sustainability. The show was a huge success and featured emerging eco-glam designers from across Canada. We’re all looking forward to many other conscious fashion events like this one cropping up in 2017!
  2. WEAR 2016In addition, Fashion Takes Action hosted the successful World Ethical Apparel Roundtable. For the second year in a row, brands and industry insiders came together to discuss and learn more about the fashion industry’s massive impact on people and the environment, and how that impact could be a positive one. This is another important event that we’re looking forward to repeating in 2017.
  3. Fast Fashion Brands Show Progress: Although many fast fashion brands have yet to truly embrace sustainability, 2016 definitely showed more progress. As consumers became more conscious of their fashion consumption, brands such as Urban Outfitters, Top Shop and even Zara offered niche sustainable ranges in the form of Urban Renewal, Topshop Reclaim, and Join Life respectively. Of course, H&M leads the way with the largest range, H&M Conscious, that’s available year round, and Conscious Exclusive range that comes out each April.
  4. High Fashion Takes Note: From Chanel’s ‘Eco’ themed show back in January of 2016, to the efforts of Red Carpet Green Dress to Emma Watson’s sustainable look at the MET Gala in May, 2016 was definitely the year that the world of high fashion took note of ecoconscious fashion. However, while many of these endeavours came from a place of good intention and earnest interest, some were banking on eco-friendly style being yet another passing trend. 2017 will be the year to prove otherwise.
  5. Natural Alternatives Emerge: Towards the end of the year, news emerged of some natural, plant-based alternatives to leather. Compounds made from pineapple, mushroom and even fermented tea were heralded as game changers. This fabrics are potentially a very big deal not only because of the toxic substances that come out of traditional tanneries (not to mention the carbon footprint of actually raising the livestock), but because traditional vegan leather has been produced from various petrochemicals, making them not that much more eco-friendly. In 2017, we’re hoping that consumer interest will help spur investment in these plant-based fabrics!

Exciting things ahead for 2017:

  1. Sustainable Brand Partnerships: 2017 opened with an announcement from the British department store Selfridges that it would partner with 9 sustainable designers to highlight conscious alternatives to luxe fabrics. This is great news and we’re hoping it’s not just a flash in the pan. Throughout 2017, we’ll be looking forward to increasing collaborations and partnerships between recognizable brand names and designers who walk the walk when in comes to being eco-chic.
  2. Bigger and Better Events: From Fashion Revolution Week to Eco Fashion Week, in 2017 we’re looking forward to events that bring not only awareness to sustainable style, but opportunities for collaboration as well. The hope is all about getting sustainable style into the hands of every fashion consumer!
  3. A Focus on Plant-Based Fashion: Thanks to documentaries such as Before the Flood and Cowspiracy, climate change was on everyone’s minds and veganism was on the rise. As the second most polluting industry in the world, fashion has the opportunity to enact tons of positive change. One of those opportunities lies in the textiles themselves, and we’re hoping that innovations will continue that help replace traditional animal byproducts with fabrics that don’t necessarily rely on petrochemical processes and materials.
  4. A Transition from niche to mainstream in the Media: Other than blogs and news outlets specifically devoted to eco-friendly causes, sustainable fashion is still often treated as a ‘flavour of the week’ when pieces about it appear in the media. In 2017, it would be very exciting to see environmentally friendly and socially conscious fashion being treated as something everyone is looking for, rather than just a select consumer niche.
  5. Larger Platforms from which to spread the Message: Some celebrities are already on board with conscious fashion, promoting it through the ensembles they choose to wear or the brands they found and promote. But in 2017, there’s an exciting opportunity for celebrities as well as fashion bloggers and vloggers to use their valuable and influential platforms to promote being conscious about what we buy and wear on a consistent basis.

There are so many exciting events and opportunities surrounding sustainable style coming up in 2017 that it was difficult to just pick a few. What are you exciting about during this new year?