Miguel Adrover, creative director of Hessnatur
Unfortunately, greenwashing exists everywhere, including the fashion industry. The minute the industry recognizes a trend, everyone jumps on it. And one of the trends of the moment is “going green.” Many companies say something is “eco” because it’s a natural fabric. Or they use an organic fabric and blend it with a synthetic and say it’s “sustainable.” Well, to me, these are eco-lies. Creating truly green fashion requires honesty and commitment—the fibers must be grown at certified organic farms, and they can’t be blended with synthetics or dyed or bleached with chemicals.
A HUMANITARIAN ISSUE
We always talk about the importance to the planet, but true organic farming and production is just as important to the workers. Their health is just as vulnerable to harmful chemicals. Some companies think that it’s possible to distinguish between environmental practices and ethical social practices, but, to me, the idea that you can do something ecologically sound, but not socially, is nonsense.
Commitment to the planet is not just about air, water, and earth, but it’s also about the people who live on it.
Commitment to the planet is not just about air, water, and earth, but it’s also about the people who live on it. If you purchase organically grown fibers and then manufacture clothing in factories that don’t have strict labor guarantees, how is this sustainable? It certainly isn’t sustaining the lives of human beings.
THE COST OF CHEAP CLOTHES
Unfortunately, doing things the right way is more expensive. Organic farming means organic premiums to workers, and ethical social standards means you pay workers a living wage. There just aren’t any short cuts. So I always question when I see “inexpensive” organic clothing.
Can organic clothing be mass produced at low rices, without compromise? Not really. Not yet.
Yes, I’m glad that big companies are becoming aware of the importance of organic clothing. Can it be mass produced, though? At low prices, without compromise? Not really. Not yet. We have to ask ourselves, what is the true price of fashion? When I design a dress, I know that Hessnatur will create it in a way that doesn’t cost the consumer’s conscience.
So what can those who love fashion do? Consumers must do a little homework and become aware of the practices of the brands and labels they buy: Where were the fibers grown? Were synthetics added? Are the dyes natural? Where was the garment produced? Does the brand adhere to internationally recognized fair labor practices? Are they known for treating workers with respect?
Designers must accept that beauty comes from how we create.
Designers also have a responsibility. We must accept that beauty comes from how we create, not just what we create.