Is "Sustainable Fashion" Even Possible?

Apr 22
The answer to this question depends on what your definition of sustainable is.

If “sustainable” means “able to be sustained” then yes, sustainable fashion is very possible, as fashion is sustaining itself and even expanding; however the problem is that fashion currently sustains the status quo, which is a complicated system of harm, oppression, and exploitation.

But if your definition of sustainable is something along the lines of my definition (able to be sustained, without environmental or human harm) then I seriously doubt that “sustainable fashion” is possible.

Fashion, as it currently exists, depends on extraction and consumption… These two factors alone make it unsustainable, but did you know that fashion typically pollutes at least 3 times?!

1: When it’s made (including land, water, chemicals, energy, etc.)
2: When it’s used (especially true for products made out of synthetics)
3: When it’s disposed of (it doesn’t matter if you donate it Mary… it’s most likely going to a landfill)

But you don’t need to understand the details of these environmental (and human) impacts, you just need to understand that “sustainable fashion” is a myth and an oxymoron… It’s impossible to extract and produce and sell and make any claims for sustainability (unless you’re speaking in relative terms, which is what the industry currently does).

If you see or hear claims of “sustainable fashion” you should always be quite skeptical… While there are real innovations out there, most of these claims amount to nothing more than greenwashing and vaguewashing.

And for those that are unfamiliar, greenwashing is a process in which companies and brands, specifically their marketing and communications departments, grossly overstate the steps they are taking to address climate change; typically, companies make false or misleading statements about how sustainable a product is in order to sell more products.

Vaguewashing is when companies, institutions, governments, the media, or individuals use vague, ambiguous language like “sustainable” or “diverse” that sounds progressive while doing the exact opposite. [Aotearoa Liberation League]

However, there is one form of fashion that can be sustainable, and that’s style!

Style = Fashion + the Self, which means that YOU are the key to true sustainable style. It isn’t an aesthetic as much as a philosophy and lifestyle, and you can learn about this approach in the course “A Practical Guide to Sustainable Style."
Created with