Friday, December 26, 2014

Sustainable fashion terminology from A-Z

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
In this fashion terminology and glossary, I've put together a list of terms regarding sustainable fashion. What is the difference between recycling and upcycling? What does Fairtrade mean? :-)
Simple guide to sustainable fashion terminology
Sustainable fashion terminology



Clean Clothes Campaign - established in 1989, the Clean Clothes Campaign is an alliance of organizations in sixteen European countries, working to improve the working conditions in garment and sportswear industries worldwide.

Clothing swap - a meet where used garments and accessories are exchanged. Clothing swap can be informal like hanging out with your girlfriends to exchange clothes, to more formal and larger swap events in your local neighborhood, hometown - usually organized by small initiatives or organizations.

Read: How to arrange a clothing swap meet - easy peasy!

Conscious fashion - about being mindful (conscious) about the choices you make when it comes to clothes and accessories. It's not only about being mindful about where the clothes come from and where they were produced, but also mindful when you wash your clothes.

Read: Five questions you need to ask yourself before considering going shopping.

Downcycling - turning high-quality products into new products with lower quality and functionality. An example is plastic recycling.

Eco fashion - a term that covers organic and recycled fashion. And refers to all clothes and accessories that were produced in an environmentally conscious way.

Ethical fashion - a term that covers clothes and accessories that are socially and environmentally conscious, where the focus is on the entire process; design, production and retail. Ethical fashion addresses issues like labor exploitation, animal welfare and environmental damage.

Read: Will there be an ethics law for the retail industry in Norway?

Fairtrade cotton
Fairtrade cotton by © Fairtrade International
Fairtrade -  the producers (ex. farmers) are given a fair price for a product through a trading partnership, and aims at sustainable development and reducing poverty.

Sets of Fairtrade Standards and principles apply for the producers and the companies trading Fairtrade products.

As an example - one of the standards states that a small producer organization must not spray pesticides or other hazardous chemicals around water sources.

Click here to read more about Fairtrade principles.

Fast fashion - the counterpart to slow fashion. The term refers to clothing collections that are copied from the catwalk, manufactured at an accelerated rate and sold at a low price so ordinary people like you and me can wear trendy and inexpensive clothes.

Traditionally the retail industry operated with two selling seasons (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter). But with fast fashion, several buying "seasons" are created in the same period.

Read: Practical guide on how to shop for ethical fashion.

Flea Market - often an outdoor market where you can purchase used goods, including second-hand clothing and accessories.

Vintage leather bucket bag
Vintage leather bucket bag
Minimalist style - revolves around simplicity in the clothing design and that "less is more", characterized by strict lines and often resorting to colors like black, white, beige and gray.

Click here to read about the pros and cons of a minimalist wardrobe.

Organic fashion - garments and accessories that were produced with minimum use of chemicals. An organic cotton t-shirt is an example of organic fashion.

Recycled fashion - New garments made from trash or used materials (ex. plastic bottles) or second-hand clothes.

As an example; breaking down plastic bottles to convert them to workout tights (teeki.com and Nike's Legend Women's Training Pants). Recycled fashion is considered environmentally friendly and the process saves energy, because new garments are created from existing materials.

Re-design - re-designing clothes means that you're altering the garment, for instance making a leather bag from an old leather skirt or jacket. Or it can be as simple as cutting the length of a long black dress and transforming it into a "little, black dress".

Second-hand clothes - literally it means all garments that are used with one previous owner, including vintage. When people talk about second-hand clothes today though, they usually refer to modern used clothes.

Read: What are the differences between vintage and second-hand clothes?

Slow fashion - a term used by sustainable design consultant Kate Fletcher in 2008. Slow fashion is the counterweight to the fast fashion industry (see definition above), and is about consumers being aware or mindful about the process behind a product. Quality rather than quantity is valued in slow fashion.

Sustainable fashion - goes by many names like eco fashion, ethical fashion and slow fashion. Simply put, sustainability refers to the way we use our natural resources today so there will be 'something left' for future generations.

Transferring this to fashion; sustainable fashion is about producing clothes that have lower impact on the environment. This type of fashion also has a focus on the social impact when producing clothes (fair labor wage and good working conditions).

Third-hand clothes - used garments with two previous owners. See definition of second-hand clothes.

Thrift store - a shop that sells second-hand goods, and normally the money goes to charities.

Read: 3 Really Good Reasons for Not Throwing Away Clothing in the Garbage

Upcycling - turning low-quality products into new products with better quality, to make them more valuable. Compared to recycled products, the process of upcycling doesn't break down the material chemically to create a new product.

Vintage - 'vindemia' in latin and originally a term that was used to date fine wine and its quality. The modern interpretation of vintage points at clothes that originate from the 1920s to the 1980s (or older than 20 years). Clothes that originate before the 1920s (or older than 100 years) are considered antique. Vintage clothes can be new and old garments, but most vintage has been previously worn.


Continue to read: 
How to define your own sustainable and ethical fashion style

Check out my handpicked collection of sustainable fashion brands from A-Z


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