Language of Sustainable Fashion Explained

Language of Sustainable Fashion
Language of Sustainable Fashion – Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

Language of Sustainable Fashion Explained

Learn the language of sustainable fashion with I on Image’s guest blogger Chloe Kirby of Cariuma. Get familiar with those tricky terms and learn to make more wholesome style choices.

Many of us want to do our bit to reduce the negative impacts of the fashion industry. More and more brands have sustainability on their minds, with eco-friendly apparel options becoming widely available.

But, clothing, no matter what our style, is something that we all have in common. So, it’s something that all of us can do something about. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin when the contemporary terminology is challenging to understand. So, read this handy guide to help!

1. Ethical

The term “ethical” is used to describe the fair treatment of people involved in the industry. For example, are the workers old enough to be working? Are the workers paid a fair living wage? Do they get proper breaks? Are health and safety regulations adhered to?

Sometimes “ethical” is used instead of “cruelty-free.” Items made of “ethical leather” may not involve cruelty to animals but can be produced unethically for the people who make the clothes.

If you want to find out more about the ethical side of a clothing label, the best way is to see how much information they publish about the treatment of their staff. If there isn’t much available, it’s very likely that they’re hiding how unethical they are.

2. Cruelty-Free

Cruelty-free produce is about animal welfare. It suggests that no animals were harmed in the process. The product, or it’s production, contains no animal products or animal byproducts. Additionally, it means that the product hasn’t been tested on animals. Although this is usually applies to beauty products rather than fashion.

Brands are likely to contain cruelty-free labels if this applies to them. With the current trend of heightened awareness of animal welfare, the cruelty-free companies are very likely to be advertising this fact.


3. Organic

Organic materials are grown and produced without the use of harmful chemicals such as pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. Cotton is now commonly grown organically because it reduces the chemicals that are contaminating our water sources. On the downside, organic cotton is criticized for requiring higher amounts of water for its production.

The best way to combat this is not to ignore organic cotton but to use it more sparingly. For example, learn to repair clothing instead of throwing it out, or focus on quality over quantity by buying one t-shirt that will stand the test of time, rather than several consumable ones.

4. Fair Trade

Fair trade is a partnership between producers and buyers. The farmers are given a fair price for the materials and products that they produce. Fair trade programs advocate good working conditions and protecting the environment. These factors make the clothing more ethical and also more eco-friendly.

Fair trade products are usually labeled to show this, so it is easy to see if you are buying something that fits this movement or not.

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5. Sustainable

Producing anything sustainably means doing so with as little impact on the environment as possible. Producers need to consider how they gather the materials and manufacture the items.

It’s also important to consider how the finished products have been shipped and what they do with the products when they’re finished with them.

Some companies have reduced their water usage to in order to become more sustainable, while others plant trees whenever a pair of their shoes are purchased.

To Sum Up…

There are a lot of sustainability terms out there and many of them are used interchangeably. Hopefully, this article has helped you to sort out the main ideas within slow fashion and give you some tips regarding making your own fashion choices better for the environment and the people who make your clothes.

About The Author

Chloe Kirby is a writer and digital marketing professional. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and her Master’s Degree at Goldsmiths University in London, England. Chloe has professional experience in e-commerce, digital marketing, and copywriting. For the last year she has been working in New York City.

Shop conscious sneaker styles at -> I love their knitted styles!

Thank you very much for the educative and helpful post Chloe! I am sure that this article is helpful to many of my readers and clarifies the language of sustainable fashion.

Share your thoughts on this guest post in comments and share with a friend who is looking forward to learning more about sustainable lifestyle!

Jenni @ I on Image - Content Creator Fuelled by Fashion

13 thoughts on “Language of Sustainable Fashion Explained

  1. Her Digital Coffee says:

    Thank you for sharing such an important and informative post. It’s easy for brands to put a label on something, but it’s up to us to do the research. This post breaks down popular wording used perfectly. Thank you Jenni and Chloe for sharing!

  2. Karalee says:

    This is such a helpful post from Chloe because it can be confusing trying to understand the terminology used in sustainable fashion. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Lisa's Notebook says:

    I hadn’t realised the full implications of ethical – such an informative post, Jenni, really helpful to have it all broken down like this, thank you xx

  4. Giulia says:

    Thank you for sharing! This really helps in knowing what we are looking at when we come across products with these terms, and how to become kinder in our purchases.

  5. Jenni @ I on Image says:

    I think so too. Now being sustainable or at least aware of it is a part of everyday life and rightly so. It’s such a huge concept that everyone can take part in a way or another. Keep it up Kelly Diane!

  6. Kelly Diane says:

    This is such a helpful post. I’m so glad to see sustainable fashion is on the rise and with more people getting a better understanding of the language, its only going to increase.

  7. bournemouthgirl says:

    I try to do my best to only buy clothes when is absolutely necessary, I give a lot to my littlest sister, people we know or a clothes bank when we don’t need them. I have brought organic clothing x

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