Greenwashing: A Trend That Needs To Die
By Haven Hathaway
So a fast-fashion brand says they are interested in sustainability; great! But what are they actually doing within their company's production systems and practices that make them sustainable? Without these crucial details critics and experts will call this yet another case of greenwashing.
Greenwashing, defined by The Cut as “engaging in false advertising about the sustainability of its clothing,” has been a reoccurring term popping up in the news more often than we would like. In fact, Merriam-Webster even added its own definition of greenwashing. With the recent headliners of Kourtney Kardashian Barker becoming Boohoo’s sustainability ambassador and H&M being sued for greenwashing, it’s becoming clear that fast-fashion brands need to stop using sustainability as a marketing strategy.
H&M’s lawsuit was filed on July 22nd after Chelsea Commodore, a SUNY New Paltz marketing student, claimed she was overpaid for a clothing item labeled “conscious” when that was actually false. Highlighted by The Cut, H&M is one of the leading fast-fashion brands in transparency and documentation on carbon footprint. Still, this lawsuit exposed H&M and other companies for misleading environmental claims regarding their clothing production.
The problem is that H&M still has clothing and textiles going into landfills, and their recycling solutions are simply not being implemented at this time. They are misleading their shoppers to try and keep up with the growing interest in a fashion footprint from everyday consumers.
In addition to H&M, Boohoo’s NYFW event showcased their new so-called sustainable line with an ambassador, Kourtney Kardashian Barker. She was very clear on an Instagram post that she recognizes and understands the backlash this collab might receive, but she felt it was something she had to follow through with as she views this as a platform to increase awareness of the harms of fast fashion.
However, as stated in Business of Fashion, critics are still not buying this new wave for Boohoo, primarily because of their 2020 scandal with unfair and unsafe working conditions and labor practices.
We do hope with the combined platform, awareness will grow of this subject, but awareness is just the first step. Boohoo needs to recognize its faults and start placing explicit action that will do the best it can to solve its environmental issues.
As a known a vegan and organic consumer, Kardashian Barker should use this opportunity to influence Boohoo to do better by supporting its environment and people.
These aren’t the only companies with fault lines, and as long as fast-fashion brands continue to profit their brand with sustainability, they will be called out for their wrongdoings. Highsnobiety shared that the US, UK, and EU are beginning to consider greenwashing a punishable defense, already making companies rethink their usage of the terms “sustainable” and “circular.”
This is where we need to recognize that consumers simply want transparency, and with transparency comes the truth. Even if a brand has to come forward and say that at this time, some of their production systems aren’t as sustainable as they need to be, they are being transparent.
Let’s bring the who, what, when, where, and why to the forefront of fashion. Sustainability is a serious discussion that can't be acted on impulse just because other competition is ahead of the game. There needs to be a clear distinction between profit and planet, and our planet is ready for the trend of greenwashing to die.
-As always, elevate your wardrobe with respected fashion and embrace the shift in style
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