Redefining ‘Sustainable Fashion’

“Sustainable,” implies “able to continue over a period of time,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. “Fashion,” on the other hand, implies change over time. To reconcile the two is impossible. No wonder striving for net-zero emissions makes us all feel like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills.

Because there is no simple answer to solving fashion’s role in climate change. Even the obvious one — don’t make, or buy, any new stuff, and don’t throw away any old stuff — has negative implications for employment, know-how and self-definition. (After all, people have been adorning themselves to express themselves for pretty much as long as they have understood themselves as “selves.”) The crucial issue for each of us, no matter which side of the equation we are on, is thinking about and understanding the effects of the choices we make, so we can make better ones in the future.