To be sustainable and ethical. The garment gauntlet has been thrown down and the fashion industry is faced with the most significant challenge it has ever seen. As big brands scramble to distance themselves from the fast fashion name stain, we ask ourselves; are they genuine or trying to cash in to sell even more?   

A report from luxury secondhand online marketplace, Vestiaire Collective, revealed that ’77 per cent of shoppers around the world believe sustainability is important and 41 per cent believe brands should offer more sustainable options’.

So what are they all doing? H&M, Adidas, Zara and Cotton On all now have their own ranges of sustainable and ethical clothing options. Now Australia’s own The Iconic, has launched ‘Considered’, a range “made using at least one material or process that is better for humans, animals or the environment than conventional alternatives, or is from a brand that is making contributions to the community around us”.

Hmmm… At least ONE material?? That doesn’t sound like a giant leap forward. ‘Considered’ has launched with more than 6400 products, that’s quite a range to be sustainable and dare I say it… still a little like ‘fast fashion’. It raises the question, can ‘fast fashion’ be sustainable?

To their credit, The Iconic’s ‘Considered’ range is 6.5 per cent of The Iconic’s entire collection, with new items being added every day.  The Iconic is planning to increase the percentage to 8 per cent by July and 10 per cent by early next year. So it appears as though this is a growth area for them to replace the current range.

“We developed Considered because we felt there was a need to provide our customers with clearer information at the point of sale and a gap in enabling customers to shop consciously with ease,” said Jaana Quaintance-James, head of sustainability and ethical sourcing at The Iconic (The Iconic).

I recently read Clare Press’s book ‘Rise and Resist’ (highly recommend the read) which talks about resisting against the structures that perpetuate a social issue close to your heart. This quote from Jaana Quaintance-James has me a little suspicious.  Is sustainability really a cause they feel passionately about or just good business to increase your potential audience of shoppers with a market share grab?

‘Green Washing’ is a term used to describe business practices that put up a façade of token gestures that try to distance themselves from the ‘fast fashion’ name stain. A good example is K-Mart’s fair trade claim – “We aim to provide great products at the lowest prices for our customers while respecting human rights”. How can you pay every single person in your supply chain a living wage AND consider your environmental impact when your t-shirts cost $4.50? Sorry, IMPOSSIBLE!!

At Rolling Grenades Down Catwalks, we applaud any change towards sustainability but we still need to have a healthy level of skepticism to keep big fashion retailers accountable.

If The Iconic is genuine then we applaud and support their efforts. However it seems a bit hypocritical to shout about sustainability and ethics when you are still one of Australia’s biggest contributors to fast fashion and still sell many of the brands that are at the core of the problem. If it was truly important wouldn’t ‘fast fashion’ brands and practices be eliminated as a first step? And are The Iconic’s customers really supporting sustainability by purchasing the Considered range, or, are we just buffing up the coffers to support ‘fast fashion’ through the back door?  

Words and thoughts by Rolling Grenades Creative Director, Hannah Sartori.