Your Ultimate Guide To Understanding Sustainable Fashion

Your Ultimate Guide To Understanding Sustainable Fashion

Do you know your Greta from your greenwashing? Your closed-loop from your carbon-neutral? It’s a murky world of eco-terminology out there, and in order for us to make meaningful change, we need to understand exactly what it is we’re fighting for.

Here are the buzzwords, demystified…


The worryingly prevalent marketing tactics of a brand claiming to be far more environmentally friendly than they really are. Often, they jump on the greenwagon in order to be aligned with values they don’t necessarily possess, but that they think speak to the customer.


Also known as having a carbon-zero footprint, which translates as a company attempting to eliminate all carbon emissions from their supply chain. Why is carbon bad? It’s shorthand for damaging gases pumped out by production that impact climate change.

Closed-loop fashion

Supporting a far less wasteful fashion industry, closed-loop refers to all clothing that can be made from preexisting textiles, for example by breaking down garments and turning them into fabric to create new designs. It encourages the use of natural resources to their full capacity, often giving items an eternal life cycle. Similar to the concept of circular fashion: recycle, reuse, repurpose.

Ethical fashion

Ethical is often confused with eco-friendly – both are broad terms, but mean different things. Ethical fashion positively impacts the lives of the people creating it, but can also mean, by extension, that it’s not damaging the environment. In an ideal world, it would be both.


Organic fashion does not necessarily mean sustainable. In fact, often it’s quite the opposite, with monoculture crop growing (helpful for producing organic crops) actually needing far more water among other things. The materials created are grown without pesticides and other nasties, but doesn’t always follow that this is better for the environment.


This refers to something capable of being broken down naturally without releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.

Slow fashion

Yes, this is precisely the opposite of fast fashion – the warp-speed consumption that has resulted in landfills flooded with discarded garments. Slow fashion is a call to arms for conscious consumption. Essentially, buy less, buy better.