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There's A New Kind Of Greenwashing In Fashion

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Greenwashing is nothing new. In fact, it is present everywhere from our supermarkets to our chemists. In fashion, however, there's a new form of greenwashing in town – and it's as insidious as ever. According to Investopedia, "Greenwashing is conveying a false impression that a company or its products are more environmentally sound than they really are."

In fashion, this means brands claiming to be 'sustainable' without the evidence to back up those claims. And the latest trend in fashion greenwashing is to simply tack a 'sustainable' line onto a fast fashion supply chain. Which is inherently hypocritical, because fast fashion can never really be sustainable. 

This is because these retailers are focussed on quantity over quality; routinely producing more than is necessary and encouraging consumers to buy into trends. So when brands like H&M promote their Conscious Collection, they are not only highlighting the essential unsustainability of all the rest of their garments, but they are also using fast fashion funds to market said conscious collections. 

This is deeply problematic, because it not only tricks customers into believing that those big brands are more sustainable than they actually are, but it also fuels the fast fashion beast in doing so. While independent brands that are genuinely sustainable struggle to spread their message with the broader public, big brands use the huge profits they make off cheap, exploitative clothing to produce huge marketing budgets that promote 'green' collections.

This gives fast fashion retailers an unfair advantage over the little guys that are actually doing good for people and the planet. And it also gives them leverage to manipulate customers into buying more stuff they don't need simply because it seems 'sustainable'. When in fact there is nothing sustainable about a gratuitous conscious collection tacked onto the mainline. 

This insidious form of greenwashing can be difficult to spot, but a basic rule of thumb is that if a brand is pushing a sustainability agenda as an add-on to their overall business model, it is probably not genuinely in line with their mission as a company. Because a sustainability section tacked onto a fast fashion brand does not change the underlying unsustainability of that business model. 

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