What does sustainable fashion actually mean?

What does sustainable fashion actually mean?

What does sustainable fashion actually mean? You love shopping, but also love the environment – well you can have the best of both worlds.

But with so many words thrown about the place, like ‘sustainability’, ‘ethical’, or ‘vegan’, choosing clothes that are better for our planet can be a bit confusing.

To help clear up any confused heads out there, I’ve broken down frequently used sustainable fashion jargon so you can be armed with the right knowledge to become more sustainable.


Silk, linen, wool and hemp fabrics will decompose into natural elements after been thrown away.


A product that is ‘eco-friendly’ is made with minimal damage to the planet – aka without polluting all over the place.


This umbrella term essentially means that the people who worked on an item were treated safely and paid fairly.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade is designed to address the imbalance of power and injustices in trading relationships. It provides an alternative to conventional trade, with fair trade products charging a premium to consumers so that producers (like farmers) can earn a better wage.

Fast Fashion

The approach of designing, creating and producing products based on fast moving trends and cheap prices (think Boohoo or Mango). Fast fashion brands have perfected bringing runway knockoffs to stores at affordable prices. Fast fashion, while cheap and trendy, results in overpopulation, waste, environmental degradation and the overworking of factory makers.


If you buy your food with this label, the same idea applies for fabrics. Organic products are those produced without the use of harsh chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides.


One of the three R’s you learned about WAY back in the day. It means the materials used to create an item (plastic, rubber, fabrics etc) have been reused.


While there’s no common definition of what sustainable fashion actually means, Green Strategy’s definition of ‘more sustainable fashion’ can be used as a starting point.

“More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.”

Basically, it’s sort of like a combination of ‘ethical’ and ‘eco-friendly.


It’s what happens when any garments you throw away get a glow-up. For example, there are some bikinis that are made partly out of fishing nets.


A garment labelled ‘vegan’ means that zero animal products (like leather, fur or even silk) go into making it. Fortunately, for those of you out there who are looking for that perfect leather bag that goes with everything, there are some great vegan leather alternatives available.

What does sustainable fashion actually mean?

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