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  • Leonie de l'Orme


Ethical, sustainable, overproduction… Read hereThe Cosmospolite's view on these container words.

Sustainable fashion is non-existing

Earlier I wrote a short article about my vision on sustainable fashion. In which I claimed sustainable fashion to be non-existing. For the simple reason that within the fashion industry (or any industry really) there will always be pollution, extraction of precious resources from earth and emissions caused by transportation. In the end there are only more responsible options than the status quo. Better choices. Where truly being sustainable is off course wearing what you have, swap, rent, amend or make your own. Only last comes buying new clothes.

The Cosmospolite is here to help you with that last step. She is on a mission to make it easy and fashionable to shop ethical and sustainable fashion. And not just anything and certainly not everything. Nope! At The Cosmospolite you can find a highly curated collection of contemporary and outspoken clothing and accessories. From brands that are committed to ethical and fair work conditions working with 'sustainable' fabrics and processes, while fighting the pressing problem of the fashion industry; overproduction.

So that's a lot of fancy words in one sentence don't you think? Ethical, Fair, sustainable, overproduction.... Here is what they mean to The Cosmospolite

Wearing ethical clothes is an act of feminism

Ethically-created clothes are designed, made and traded in a fair and respectful way to all animal and people involved. In the most ideal sense, it benefits everyone working along the supply chain and creates a better future for everyone. Think about fair pay for garment workers, the right to start a trade union or offering the same internship chances for people from all different backgrounds.

Today, only 1% of the clothes is fairly made. Most garment workers are not even paid a living wage, make long days and work under unhygienic and unsafe working conditions. With approx 80% of garment workers being women, it makes buying and wearing ethical clothes an act of feminism. Because with every purchase you either support women or you don’t. ⁠

Sustainable means being less harmful to the planet

Where ethical fashion is mostly about wellbeing, sustainable fashion is a collective word for clothes produced in a way which is substantially less harmful for people, animal and the planet. Think about natural fibers, organic fabrics, water reduction, natural dyes, minimizing CO2 or working with biodegradable packaging.

Sustainability impact happens at the raw stage

Considering that 75% of the sustainability impact happens at the raw materials stage - before clothes have actually been made - sustainable clothes is all about the fabric. Needless to say, that choosing natural fibers such as organic cotton, Tencel, wool or bamboo over synthetics such as nylon, polyester or acryl (aka oil) is an easy way to support the planet. Not only because oil mining has a devastating effect on the environment and people working in or around mining. New research found that 35% of the microplastics found in the oceans come from synthetic textile.

old western clothes dump in African country

Image courtesy of Joshua Ganyobi Odamtten / Vogue Business

Overproduction is fashions' biggest problem

Around €150 million worth of textile waste goes to landfill and waste each year. This is a lot of unnecessary waste of resources and human energy. Business of Fashion already called it fashions’ dirty little secret and Vogue Business decided to make it a main topic during her first Earth Month sessions. I am talking about overproduction. In fighting this, I see the biggest solution for fashion industries pressing problem. Simply said: less productions equals less usage of (virgin) resources, equals less waste and stimulates less consumption. I believe the future is bright for brands fighting this.

How Ethical, Sustainable and Overproduction is incorporated into The Cosmospolite?

We study what the label tells us

Talking about ethics, sustainability and over productions automatically brings country of origin on the table. Because ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Bangladesh’ sounds like mass production, fewer quality restrictions and little human rights. At The Cosmospolite we prefer to work with brands that are designed, made and sold/ship from one and the same country. This keeps emissions and transport costs low, stimulates local economy and enables brand owners to stay highly involved in all steps of the chain. If not possible I look into the reason ‘why not?’ Often to conclude that production in Bolivia, Sri Lanka or even China is done for a pretty good reason like empowering local communities or safeguarding traditions.

We listen to what the brand is (not) telling

Transparency is a hot branding tool, important for consumers yet tricky. A lot of brands claim to be good. Often the more a brand talks about it and uses the typical words, the less they do good. Besides, being transparent often means telling all about the good things a brand does and simply leaving out all the negatives. While for us consumers, it is often the brand(ing) website information we use to check if a brand matches our values. It take time and effort to prevent us from the trap of greenwashing. According to WWD, consumers spent more than seven billion hours online searching for “sustainable,” “ethical,” “fair trade,” and “eco-friendly” items in 2020. Most of it was me! I cross reference the internet like crazy, use different rating tools and talk to brands.

cat laying on top of a vintage computer sustainable fashion meme

Every new cool brand spotted goes through a critical phase of research. Here is the checklist:

The Cosmospolite Checklist

1. Is a brand ethical?

Does a brand make an effort to improve wellbeing alongside the entire chain? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: fair-trade, ethical labor, women empowerment, supporting communities, animal wellbeing and/or vegan.

2. Is a brand sustainable? What conscious material are used? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: natural, organic, recycled, vegan, cruelty free, recycled, upcycled and/or deadstock materials.

3. Does a brand fights overproduction?

Is production kept to a maximum? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: pre-order, small batched, limited edition, made-to-order, handwork, artisanal, craftsmanship, pre-owned, vintage and/or rent

4. Where is it made and why there?

What is the reason a brand chooses a country for its production?

Which of these claims are made and can be proven: Artisanal, craftsmanship, support local communities, women empowerment, Made in Europe, Made in America, locally made, locally sourced and/or empower communities?

5. How transparent is a brand?

What is a brand telling me? And what not? Does a brand talk about its emission numbers, water reduction in liters, percentage of mark up, CO 2 compensation and/or blockchain traceability.

Bonuspoints go to brands that dare to say they are not 100% sustainable (sustainability is a never ending journey) or stimulate to buy less, are size inclusive female- and/or bipoc-owned and make charitable efforts

Being transparent myself: also for The Cosmspolite it’s an ongoing journey to monitor the brands covered on the platform. That’s why occasionally a brand is kicked out of the ethical and sustainable fashion brand index (so long Reformation). Luckily I discover and include more and more brands on the platform monthly.

Do you have information about a brand which I seem to have not? Questions sustainability of one of the covered brands? Want to suggest a new brand? Love to learn, hear or know. You can contact me via leonie@thecosmospolitecom

Stay Cosmic,


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