The fashion industry

The topic of sustainability has assumed global dimensions and now carries political implications. From institutions of higher education to the United Nations, the consensus is that the earth is at risk. Perhaps, grave risk. The scientific consensus on climate change, previously dubbed global warming, has had significant impact on many industries. The textile manufacturing and fashion industries do not operate in a vacuum. They are just as vulnerable as other sectors like food and beverage and play an important role in daily existence and social and economic interactions.

What is sustainability? It depends upon whom you ask. Among the myriad definitions within the framework of textiles and fashion, I define it as a system that includes the natural and human environment that recreates itself, stays balanced hence, sustainable – in order to survive. It includes other systems such as economic, environmental, societal, and personal, on a global scale. Consequently, we must answer this simple question: How can we live in a world in which the earth’s resources that support life can be available to humans, as well as to the flora and fauna that are vital components of the ecosystem? The answer is simple: it has to be a collective and inclusive effort, on a global basis, which creates synergy among all players to benefit the continuation of the earth’s ecosystem.

Understandably, the textile manufacturing and fashion industries cannot be sustainable alone. They can have a significant impact on the entire ecosystem. It is true that change will not happen unless a trigger causes it. Pressure from consumers, competitors, legislative mandates and the personal initiative of activists will compel stakeholders to change.