The Place of Sustainability in the Millennial Approach to Fashion

The most buzzed-about generation is known for many things – their different approach to pursuing career goals, their levels of awareness on social, political and environmental issues, and so on. As sustainability, in every sphere including fashion, plays a major role in the pursuit of environmental causes and saving the planet, the question that inevitably pops up is where does sustainability stand in the world of trendiness? Aside from all of the things mentioned, most of the fashion influencers and fashion and trend lovers, in general, are precisely members of the millennial generation, so how does staying on trend and on point go hand in hand with sustainability? This is the question we’ll be attempting to provide answers to here.
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Fast, trendy, but responsible

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It’s no secret that when it comes to trends, millennials are the first to rock them. That begs the question – where do the old trends that didn’t live to tell the tale to go? As a responsible generation that they are, most millennials resort to donating their ‘older’ items to charity, or even reselling them for a symbolic price. Now, as a generation that is very much heard by the fashion industry, they are not alone in this attempt of ‘closing the circle’. Namely brands such as Patagonia and H&M have had recycling programs for quite some time now. The way they usually work is that you bring in your old clothes (regardless of the brand they are), the brand recycles them and you even get a discount on your next purchase, so it’s a win-win for all. Initiatives such as these have even given birth to another kind of production called closed-loop production. This involves using recycled materials from the very beginning, and then the garments are recycled once again, which takes the sustainability and ‘closing the circle’ even a step further. Even high-end brands such as Alexander McQueen and Gucci have committed to jumping on board by signing up for what is described as ‘commitment to accelerate the transition to a circular fashion system’.
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Trendy but timeless

As said, most trends have the lifespan of a fruit fly, but luckily, millennials are turning to trends that seem to have staying power, such as minimalism and athleisure. Both of these trends have proven they have what it takes to stay for a very long time, and by investing in a high-quality minimalistic garment or a pair of versatile and durable Nike shoes, millennials often accused of being reckless spenders are actually saving both money and their clothes. By investing in pieces that will not only be trendy for years to come but are also actually made to last, this generation is making sure these items don’t end up in the waste bins, and they’re saving their wallets at the same time, because believe it or not, they’re much pickier and more cunning when it comes to spending money than meets the eye.

The pursuit of authenticity

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The desire to be trendy comes second only to the desire to be unique, recognizable and authentic when it comes to this generation, and this bodes well for sustainability. We are currently living in an age when the rise of vintage and secondhand clothing has never been bigger, and there’s a good reason for it. Vintage equals unique and at times even high-end, and secondhand means good quality, while both mean owning one of a kind garments that no one else possesses. The authenticity factor skyrockets and old clothes are saved. Aside from that, it doesn’t hurt that these vintage items are coming back in style, and if they’re not in style now, they’re bound to be soon enough. Of course, even in this aspect, millennial tendencies have won, as vintage stores are doing their best to look polished and chic; they pay special attention to the appearance and layout of the store as to be more appealing to future customers.

A huge win

Whether it was the millennial generation, older generations or all of them combined, the fight to banish fur from collections of high-end designers seems to have given results. Yes, fur looks good, but at what cost? Gen Y-ers would much rather save the animals and rock faux fur, and designers such as Michael Kors, Gucci as well as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Armani, and Tommy Hilfiger have all joined the Fur Free Alliance which commits them to create fur-free collections. This may seem like a small step, but with all these actions combined, it’s safe to say that strides towards sustainability are being made, and it’s thanks to, not in spite of millennial tendencies.

Beautifully written by Contributor Claire Hastings