Sustainable Strategies for Fashion

Alan L. Johnson

A new series of initiatives to help promote sustainability in the fashion industry has been proposed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The goal is to help designers with a framework and a place to start when thinking through how to make their product more sustainable. Concerns over water and plastics are paramount and many generally support reducing fashion's waste footprint. This recent framework helps to advance the United Nations’ call for the fashion industry to act on its global mandate on sustainability

According to's recent article, "CFDA Introduces Sustainability Initiatives to Help Guide Designers Looking for Cleaner Ways to Work":

U.N. officials have noted how the $2.5 trillion industry is the second highest user of water worldwide, generating 20 percent of global water waste. The production of one shirt requires 2,700 liters, which is comparable to the amount a person drinks in 30 months.

The article goes on to state that this is a continuation of the CDFA's strategy:

Last year the CFDA, which is considered a non-governmental organization, launched a sustainability-centered resource hub to provide members, educators and the professional community with open-access resources pertaining specifically to the fashion business. The NGO is also paying particular attention to professional development, and helping early-stage brands build businesses with a sustainability focus.

What is more important is that the guide provides an easy-to-use tool for designers:

The newly released CFDA Guide to Sustainable Strategies was penned by Domenica Leibowitz as a “how-to” overview for sustainable fashion. The idea is to help CFDA members create, meet and exceed their sustainability goals. Leibowitz is president of Global Action Through Fashion, which is dedicated to creating a more environmentally sustainable world through education about socially and environmentally conscious fashion. There are also case studies tracing CFDA members’ trials and tribulations in their quests for sustainability in the CFDA’s PDF Guidebook which was created by Lauren Croke. Croke is a former Eileen Fisher executive who is now executive strategist and innovator at Kyureeosity, which works with purpose-driven organizations.

It’s far from a coincidence that the CFDA released this report just three weeks before New York Fashion Week. Sustainability has already become one of 2019’s biggest talking points and many want to know how designers are going to relate sustainable practices to their business going forward.

It is really important for our world to think about how much we actually need. Fashion, by its nature tends to promote excess or at least quick product life-cycles which can create serious waste. It is amazing to see more designers embrace sustainability and it will be cool to see who continues to take the opportunity to be better and save the world at the same time! We'll just have to stay tuned for fashion week and find out!

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What do you think might be the benefits of more sustainability in fashion?

Q2. How do you think that proper uses of technology can help sustainability in fashion?

Q3. Would you be more likely to recommend a brand that is committed to sustainability? Why?