Nowadays, sustainability is found interesting and intriguing by Turkish brands and consumers. This sustainability is an area with a wide range from agriculture to technology and where people can do something about. In addition, in recent years, people have united under the topic of sustainable fashion, which is an important step in terms of sustainability because the 60% of materials which is used in the fashion industry are made of plastic. At the same time, the fashion sector again accounts for more than 10% of the greenhouse gas. There is no secret that the fashion industry is destroying the environment. Even if scientists and nature lovers are aware of how dangereous this is, most consumers and fashion designers do not know this fact or ignore it. However, recently, with the impact of the climate crisis being seen too much, brands paying attention to this issue and taking significant steps, people’s consciousness has been formed and people have started to wonder about it: what is the sustainability in fashion and what are its aims? Yet, in order for you to better understand the story, the fast fashion trend is a title that should be mentioned.
The fast fashion is a trend that aims just the product, uses unhealthy and non-recylable materials (petroleum-based materials), designes clothes by creating incredibly large pollution in our world. As well as all its bad sides, in the factories of underdeveloped countries, people are employed for many hours at low wages, of course unhygenical conditions also come with it.
Sustainable fashion (also known as eco-fashion) is an all-inclusive term describing products, processes, activities, and actors (policymakers, brands, consumers) aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry, built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. (According to wikipedia) In other words, it is a fashion trend that does not only aim to create a product, but also creates a result by taking more than one value and blending them all when creating a product without harming nature.
Sustainable fashion aims at results that will be beneficial for our world. Some points such as increasing the countries’ own production and understanding its value, extending the life span of materials, reducing the amount of waste, reducing the damage caused by excessive consumption in the environment, and preventing waste and pollution take place among its most important aims.
Many brands around the world have an important position on sustainability. Levi’s, H&M Conscious, Polo Ralph Lauren, Vera Bradley, People Tree and some brands like these are top of the list. But which features of these brands do make them sustainable?
Water usage: These brands are aware of the importance of water. They do not use drinking water, even if they use it, they never overdo. Water pollution, on the other hand, is a very distant concept to them.
Hazardous chemicals: The chemicals they use when revealing the product have been created in such a way that they do not harm the employees at the factory, those who use the product and the environment. Thus, the producers and the environment are protected as well as the consumers.
Lifecycle: The biggest and most important goal of the sustanible fashion is just four words: buy less use longer. Whole brands obey this rules and aim that people can use their clothes longer and longer.
Agriculture: Environmentally harmful drugs may be used to solve some problems encountered when cotton plants grow up. Such brands have even been thought of as such, the necessary chemicals have been provided to the farmer and the manufacturer, and the health of nature and people has been prioritized at every stage during the formation of the product.
Like the world industry, in Turkey, there are few brands which prepare their product in these ways and value nature. Every single part of these brands’ products has healthy and sensitive parts from each other.
There is no doubt that, the first name that comes to mind when talking about sustainable fashion in Turkey is Tuba Ergin. She had prepared her collection, which she has called the “Brave New World” of her self-created brand, against the climate crisis and presented her collection show between solar panels. She have achieved new, classy and sustainable clothes by using the substances that are considered like unusual, industrial waste and even garbage. Inspired by everything she sees, she reflects culturalism, experimentalism and innovation in her products. For example, a bag she created by using a car tire that is no longer used and adding vegetative leather to it is among the products that are of the most interest. The information giving her website says that the majority of the garments produced are on demand, thus avoiding waste. On the other hand, she says that all substances ,from packaging to labeling, are recyclable or recycled. Because the 100%of cotton they use have GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certificate, it does not threaten environment and does not cause water pollution. In addition, organic silk, artificial leather, recycled fibers and wood-friendly viscose and other harmless substances are used in their design. Tuba Ergin as a Turkish sustainable fashion designer has achieved great success and has made her name mentioned in the world.
Like Tuba Ergin, Ece Gözen also found the studies conducted for sustainability in the fashion that already exists in Turkey insufficient and aimed to introduce other different product. She believes using only recyclable substances is unsufficent. A short while ago, in order to combine fashion, art, design and biotechnology, she found the Gozen Institute. She aimed to get to the source of the problem and solve it at the root, and she realized that the underlying problem was the material used. In the institute, she makes up new, sustainable sustances by making changes to the materials, or by reproducing. Therefore, the products made with these materials are processed as healthy and sensitive to the environment and consumer problems. Gözen, who says that instead of using real animal skin, she uses vegan skins that she produces at her institute says that at least three years should be waited for the real animal to be born and develop but vegan skin can be created between 2 and 3 weeks. Despite her young age, she is known the one of the most recognized and appreciated Turkish fashion designer.
Assez as another Turkish fashion designer one of the brands giving efforts for sustainability. Aslı Sezer ,founder of Assez, mentions that the word ”assez“ means ”enough” in French, and that her own brand was created for this purpose. Being able to be content with less and a sense of gratitude are the two most important values that she has experienced in her own life and that her brand has. She says that her brand does not consist of the clothes changing every season, but instead consists of parts that can be used constantly and form a whole together. “It is very worrying for our planet and humanity to see the work of millions of textile workers, who are not even known under what conditions they work, disappear along with millions of tons of textile garbage every year.” emphasizing the importance of sustainability. She mentions that sustainability should be the top title now and in the future. “I think that the transition to an order in which we will start to question our consumption habits more, consume less, take care of the material and quality, and give more value for labor in production is inevitable.”
As another brand, Atölye Ren, it creates products that carry the values of compassion, care, freedom, diversity and solidarity. At the heart of the brand, sustainability and social responsibility are at the forefront. Forunder Gözde Karatekin believes that compliance is very important for ensuring sustainability. She says that something can be achieved by being conscious of the consumer as well as the manufacturer. In addition, she believes that the rules and laws established by public organizations and official places will solve many problems if consumers also comply with them. As an example, she gives a ban on plastic bags in grocery stores. “I see that too many people go to the market with cloth bags, grocery store employees say that the use of plastic bags has decreased too much. Honestly, I did not think we’d adapt so quickly.” On the other hand, she says that she has had his share of annoyance with the uniforms worn at school and dress codes in business life in establishing his own brand. Realizing that the situations of destruction and control of the female body also apply to nature, she says that at the birth of the Ren brand, she aimed to “move the relationship that women have established with their own bodies and nature to a positive ground”. In this context, Atölye Ren is a sensitive brand with an awareness of the female body and nature, both in terms of sustainability and in public life.
From a Turkey-wide perspective, it can be said that A Hidden Bee, Imnotbasic, Restore, Satsuma, Reflect and some others have worked for sustainability. All of these brands are Turkish brands that make a difference with the materials they use and produce slowly versus fast production.
The last topic of the sustainable fashion is how to become an aware consumer. We have mentioned that the founders in the manufacturing sector can produce more sensitive parts, but how can we make the right decision as a consumer?
By now you should be familiar with the most popular examples of sustainable fashion: ethical, slow, vegan, eco-friendly, fair trade, recycled, upcycled, and so on. Increase the lifespan of your clothing and accessories by repairing, remaking, upcycling, and reusing your products. Buy from sustainable clothing companies that respect biodiversity, the ecosystem, and the natural resources of this planet. From brands that use carbon dioxide-free, and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and ocean, at every stage of the manufacturing and recycling processes. You should chose 100% organic and vegan materials and slow fashion.
But the end of the story, you should be aware of all aspects of sustainability and its all processes.