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Caring for the environment is not only fashionable, it IS fashion!

Inspired by the paradigm of responsible consumption, more and more people are starting to consider the social and environmental impact of the clothes they choose to wear. A new model of sustainable fashion opens markets and fosters opportunities for the textile industry in the region.

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Responsible consumption is that which not only takes into account the quality and price of the goods and services purchased but also how these are produced and their environmental and social impact, seeking values such as fair trade, ethics and consideration for the environment. The textile industry is not foreign to this paradigm and an increasing number of companies, designers and small producers attempt to create clothing along these lines.

Sustainable fashion considers the production cycle from raw materials to the final destination

Eco or sustainable fashion considers the production cycle ranging from the selection of raw materials, the design, the suppliers’ quality of life, transportation, to the selection of the space where the designs will be exhibited and their final destination. Generally clothes last longer due to their manufacturing quality, reducing the purchasing frequency. This not only includes clothing based on organic crops but also recovered and recycled products and vintage apparel. It encourages the use of recycled paper bags or other eco alternatives for packaging.

According to the official United Nations Declaration on the occasion of the 2002 Earth Summit, one of the main reasons why the environment continues to deteriorate is because of the “unsustainable methods of consumption and production” particularly in industrialized countries. In this regard, a call is made to review these unsustainable trends and resort to responsible consumption models.

Conventional textile production creates a significant environmental impact, either because of the materials (nylon, polyester, rayon, etc.) or the dyes used in manufacturing. In contrast, sustainable fashion originates from crops grown without pesticides or other toxic agents that are harmful to the planet, and is concerned with fair trade, considers the workers and avoids using animal products or uses them conscientiously.

Under the slogan “Who made my clothes?”, Fashion Revolution Day is commemorated every April 24 seeking to generate awareness on these new consumption trends and reminds people of the tragedy where 1,133 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when a textile factory complex collapsed in Bangladesh.

There are several new initiatives and internationally renowned brands such as Levis, Nike or Adidas are incorporating biodegradable materials into their apparel or are manufacturing soccer jerseys from PET recycled products. Although it is still in its very early stages, companies and designers in the region are making progress in this direction. The Cavalera and Ronaldo Fraga duo from Brazil; Carlos Valenzuela, Isabel Henao, Adriana Santacruz and Kaftan from Colombia; Trista from México; and Meche Correa, Jorge Luis Salinas and Susana Piqueras from Peru, are some of the names that appear in specialized publications.

In Uruguay, the latest edition of MoWeek (Montevideo fashion week) showcased the collection of Dominga, a Mittelmoda Milan award-winning label for best collection that makes use of sustainable materials. Manos del Uruguay, an organization that employs rural artisans, also showcased an organic hand spun line. Meanwhile in Argentina, big players such as Walmart included sustainable textiles in their offerings.

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