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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

Sustainable fashion: How to tell the difference between genuine and jargon

When it comes to fashion, everyone knows we need to make more sustainable choices. Maybe you’ve decided to buy more vintage clothes, or pledged to go one month without buying anything new. Or perhaps you’ve decided that from now on, you’ll only buy clothes from sustainable fashion brands.

Ostensibly, this is a noble pursuit. But in 2021, the term “sustainable fashion” has been used so loosely that it no longer feels an entirely reliable descriptor for those looking to make positive change. Particularly when some claim that sustainable fashion will always be a paradox.

As the climate crisis rages on, the terms “sustainable”, “eco-friendly” and “recycled” increasingly pop up in promotional emails from fashion brands. But how much of what they claim is genuine, and how much is just empty marketing jargon? See greenwashing, a term coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 that describes those who spend more time giving themselves the veneer of being environmentally friendly than actually making the often tough changes to become so.

A recent online survey by the Competition and Markets Authority found that out of 500 company websites, 40 per cent of them that claimed to be eco-friendly had not substantiated their claims. One high street shop was found to be promoting clothes as being made from “recycled cotton” without stating how much recycled cotton had been used in each garment. This is an all-too-common tactic, one that has made it even harder for eco-conscious consumers to differentiate between genuinely sustainable fashion companies, and ones that are simply greenwashing their way into our wallets.



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