Child labor. Environmental pollutants. Exploitation. Greed. Words associated with the fashion industry? You better believe it. Fashion houses hurt our world more than you can imagine, but now, some nations are fighting back. This article looks at which country leads the way in sustainable fashion.
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) presents data-driven summaries of the state of sustainability throughout the world. The EPI provides a list that highlights the leaders and the laggers in environmental performance. It also gives direction for countries that strive to move toward a more sustainable future. Countries are ranked based on the environmental performance of their policies. Essentially, EPI rankings show which nations best address environmental challenges.
According to the EPI, although Switzerland stands as the most sustainable country in the world overall, France comes in as number two because of their efforts for sustainable food and fashion. France places first in fashion sustainability because the French are adamant about minimizing waste. There have been efforts to ban retailers from disposing of or burning unsold clothing items. Instead, these items would be donated to recycling organizations or second hand stores. In addition, France is increasing prices on goods that are packaged in non-recycled plastics. This will cause a decrease in demand from consumers and hopefully put an end to single-use plastics.
France is known to be a fashion powerhouse. Many of the most famous luxury brands — such as Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent — originate from France. However, most of these brands have been disinclined to join the move for ethical fashion. Rather, we have seen an increasing number of smaller brands leading the way.
Young French fashion designer, Marine Serre, introduced a collection primarily made of up-cycled clothing to Paris Fashion Week in 2018. The collection included dresses made from second hand silk scarves. Kylie Jenner posted pictures on Instagram wearing matching Marine Serre catsuits with her daughter, Stormi. Juicy tidbit: Beyoncé was the first to wear one.
Another French brand called Veja creates environmentally friendly sneakers. Some of their sneakers are made of raw materials sourced from organic farming and others are made from up-cycled materials. Veja is proud to be the first sneaker brand to use B-mesh, a fabric that is entirely made from recycled plastic bottles. On average, it takes three plastic bottles to make a pair of these Veja shoes.
Veja is also greatly involved in producing vegan shoes. Leather substitutes are often made of plastics, however Veja found and introduced a vegan, bio-sourced material that stands as an alternative to leather: CWL. This vegan alternative is made with corn waste from the food industry. Not only does this make the material vegan, it also makes it biodegradable.
Those are just a few examples of sustainable brands in France’s fashion industry. Although there are brands in the United States that practice ethical and eco-friendly methods, they have not made as much of an impact on the industry as those in France. This may be due to the fact that French consumers are more willing to buy sustainable clothing. In order for the US to get to the top of the Environmental Performance Index, consumers must change their mindset and their habits.