For this blog post, I am going to talk about knowing what to look out for on your care labels.
With the growing increase in sustainable collections and brands, transparency is key in knowing the composition of the fabric used in the clothing you buy.
Loads of companies are now complicit in 'greenwashing', which is when they operate unsustainably, under the umbrella of being 'green' and seeming to help the environment.
Below are the main things to look out for on your care labels:
Description of fabric
Make sure that when you look at the care label, you read how the company has decided to describe the fabric and the choice of wording used.
Some companies are not 100% transparent with the fabric that they use, which then causes a disillusion for customers when buying clothing.
For example, they may just use "sustainable viscose" as a description for the fabric, but by doing so, they are avoiding specifying what the viscose is actually made from. For instance, we at VIRIDY use 'sustainable viscose', but the brand of sustainable viscose that we use is called Eco Vero and is 100% traceable.
That is not to say that brands who put "sustainable viscose" on the care label are being dishonest, and not using viscose that is sustainable, but by being so vague it certainly leaves customers to question where the fabric derives from.
It is so important to read the exact composition of the fabric, under 'details' or 'fabric details' on the care label.
Under one fashion company's 'join life' collection, which sells the dream to their customers that the clothing under this specific collection is made of sustainable materials, when you look deeper into the composition of some of the fabric, it will say:
"at least 25% recycled polyester" - meaning that 75% of the fabric composition is unsustainable and also unidentified to the customer.
Aside from some of the problems with recycled polyester in itself, it is not a sustainable garment if only 25% of the composition is eco-friendly.
Another fast fashion brand who has a 'conscious collection' is also guilty of the same thing. On one of their pieces, the composition of the fabric states "Polyester 50%, Polyamide 46%, Wool 4%".
This therefore means that 96% of that composition is made from artificial and unsustainable fabrics, yet is sold under the sustainable and 'conscious' collection.
By companies placing unsustainable fabrics under a sustainable umbrella, it disillusions customers to believe that they are investing in eco-friendly clothing, when that isn't the case.
It is not just sustainable collections in fast fashion brands that are guilty of this kind of greenwashing, but also sustainable brands.
On one sustainable brand's website, under the lining of the fabric, the composition is "71% triacetate and 29% polyester". Polyester is one of the most unsustainable fabrics on the planet and whilst triacetate is made from wood pulp, to produce the fabric, it undergoes immense chemical processing.
Additionally, another sustainable branded company has a piece with a composition of "62% Polyester, 38% Wool lining, 52% Sustainable Viscose, 48% Cotton".
Out of that composition, polyester isn't sustainable, cotton isn't sustainable, and there is no traceability for the 'sustainable viscose'.
It is frustrating to see not only 'sustainable collections' by fast fashion companies greenwashing, but also self-proclaimed sustainable brands themselves.
Whilst I understand it is difficult to find fabrics that are 100% sustainable and create the desired look you want, in today's climate, and in most cases, there are sustainable alternatives on the market for you to choose from.
Using deadstock fabric, is a great way to put end of roll fabric to use that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and instead they are bought by brands to make new clothes and repurpose the fabric, which is great.
But what you need to look out for when buying a garment made of deadstock fabric, is whether they are made from sustainable materials - that is if you are looking to buy clothing made from sustainable fabrics. For instance, one well known sustainable company uses deadstock fabrics in many of their clothing, but the descriptions read something like this...
"This is a vintage style - fabric content unknown."
"This is a satin feel deadstock fabric - content unknown".
By putting content unknown, this is not being transparent. As a consumer, you can only guess what the fabric is made from. For instance, 'vintage style' fabric could mean anything, and 'satin' feel fabric can also be made from most things, but it is usually polyester.
This then raises the question, at what percentage of sustainable fabrics would you say that a piece of clothing is sustainable? It also raises the question as to whether you are still buying a sustainable piece of clothing, if it is repurposed but not necessarily made of sustainable materials?
Ultimately as a consumer it is entirely your choice, but it is important that fashion brands give you the correct information for you to make your own informed decision.
Image source: @project_stopshop