My Cart

Close
fashion diversity

Fashion Cannot Become Sustainable Without Diversity


Diversity is one of the key components of sustainable fashion. Social sustainability is the least understood but most crucial part of sustainable development.

Systemic racism also exists in the fashion industry, as shown but the recent discrimination accusations towards Reformation from a former employee. It fails to provide equal career opportunities and treat all people fairly.


"Our mission is to bring sustainability to everyone, and part of sustainability is treating people equally. I realize that I have failed all of you in that regard - especially the black community."

 - Yael Aflalo, former Reformation Chief Executive Officer

 

mixed people



Fashion businesses ignoring to embrace diversity and sustainability risk losing trust, image, and alienating customers. Unfortunately, social sustainability has much less attention in the public eye than environmental and economic sustainability.

It's as important if not more to treat all workers fairly in the fashion supply chain, from raw materials suppliers to garments manufacturers, distribution partners, and clothing retailers.


“All of these issues are connected. If the humans where you manufacture don’t have clean drinking water, then it doesn’t matter if you’re using less water in your manufacturing.”

 - Aja Barber, writer, and fashion consultant




The concept of social sustainability includes livability, community development, social support, responsibility, and justice, cultural competence, human and labor rights, health, and social equality.

Diversity is one of the primary dimensions and topics of social sustainability in a community, as well as equity, quality of life, and responsibility.


“Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected, and democratic and provide a good quality of life.”

 - Western Australia Council of Social Services (WACOSS)

fashion models

 

According to Nobel Laureate Amartya Kumar Sen, social sustainability has 5 dimensions, including diversity. To determine if a project or business is socially sustainable and diverse, it must:

  • identify diverse groups within the target group and look at ways to meet their particular needs,
  • recognize diversity within cultural, ethnic, and racial groups,
  • allow for diverse viewpoints, beliefs, and values to be taken into consideration,
  • promote understanding and acceptance within the broader community of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and life circumstances.


The fashion industry is global with various communities all around the world. It cannot become sustainable without diversity.

 

black fashion model pin



Research has shown that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially and in environmental compliance. According to McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

Cultural, gender, racial, ethnic diversity makes fashion more creative, productive, and sustainable. Sustainability-focused businesses are also diverse.


“A lack of racial diversity and gender diversity is actually hurting organizations in specific and measurable ways. There are incredibly broad and deep benefits to having people of color on the board and across leadership."

 - Christy Glass, Professor of Sociology at Utah State University (USU)


Unfortunately, many fashion social media influencers notice that not all apparel brands are willing to work with everyone equally.

Influencers rely on brands for money and are excited to work with them but are often neglected because of the image specific brands want to project.


"The influencer community has long had an issue with racial inclusivity, yet it still seems to be a topic largely avoided by marketers, brands, and by white influencers themselves. [...] Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that non-white influencers aren’t used in campaigns – there are brands who are getting it 100 percent right - but we cannot ignore how overwhelmingly white, slim and able-bodied the majority are."

 - Stephanie Yeboah, award-winning plus-size style blogger, freelance journalist, and public speaker

 

Very few fashion brands and retailers are public about their goals in sustainability, even less so in diversity. Only a small number of sustainable fashion brands are inclusive. Brands need to commit to change.

 

About the Author: Alex Assoune

Alex Assoune Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks four languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.


Share


More, More, More


Related Articles

ethical fashion podcast

Ethical Fashion Podcast by the Ethical Fashion Initiative

The Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) is launching a brand new podcast on sustainability in the fashion industry. Called “Ethical Fashion”, it aims to demonstrate how fashion can be a force... Read More

How Long Does Rayon Take to Biodegrade

Rayon is one of the most common fabrics used in the fashion world, alongside cotton and polyester. It's a semi-synthetic fabric or man-made cellulosic fiber. There are many different types... Read More
rayon pollution waste landfill
hong kong

Redress Gets New Headquarters in Hong Kong

Environmental NGO Redress working to reduce waste in the fashion industry just moved into a new headquarter in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. Sham Shui Po is an area of... Read More

How to Tell if Clothes Are Cheaply Made or High-Quality

The rise of fast fashion over the last 20 years made us consumers consider clothing as disposable commodities. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothes create massive amounts of... Read More
cheap clothes
new york

NYFW Fashinnovation Talks About Sustainable Fashion

The 5th edition of NYFW Fashinnovation Talks will take place 100% online on September 10th, 2020. The event showcases industry leaders from all around the world discussing sustainable fashion. Fashion... Read More

Ethical Fashion Market Reaches USD 8.25 Billion in 2023

The global ethical fashion market is expected to reach USD 8.25 Billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.33%, according to the recent report from The... Read More
ethical dress
fashion white top

Sustainable Fashion Helps Against Racism

Fighting for more sustainability in the fashion industry also contributes to overcoming racism. Sustainable fashion also includes social sustainability, the concept behind social equality, responsibility, and justice. Fashion brands and... Read More

Fashion Cannot Survive Without Sustainability Post-COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the global fashion industry is sinking. Sustainability is now more important than ever for fashion to stay relevant after the COVID-19 crisis.... Read More
sustainable fashion
sustainable clothes

10 Essential Questions to Ask About Sustainable Fashion

Before buying any new clothing, ask the following questions to make sure it's sustainable fashion. If you cannot find an answer yourself, ask the fashion brand or retailer you plan... Read More

Pros And Cons of Hemp for Fashion

Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly fibers in the world. It's a great material to create comfortable textiles and beautiful fashion. It has amazing qualities but also a... Read More
hemp plants

0 comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing