The Plight of Jawnz Sustainability
You’ve heard it a hundred times, and you’ve seen it posted heroically: “Sustainability in fashion is our top priority.”
From various brands, influencers, and friends, it's the sexiest trend right now and everyone is on board. The narrative has never been more palatable: save the earth while looking fly. We even have Nike pivoting and upcycling waste. We should be golden from here on out, right?
Why don’t we take a quick look at an industry-leading brand that waives the flag of sustainability, and let’s see where they’re at in terms of “saving the planet.”
Sporty and Rich (S&R)
An undeniable player, Emily Oberg built a sweatshirt and tote empire that’s being carried by select boutiques worldwide. What started out as a niche, pre-order format merch quickly evolved into a seasonal juggernaut. This crazy uptick made the demand irresistible, which forced Emily to scale rapidly. Success is definitely not a bad thing, but how does this play into saving our planet? Is brand image merely a selling point to get people on board? To be completely fair, S&R does donate proceeds to organizations that help preserve the environment, and they also purchase carbon credits as a voluntary gesture. However, they do not and cannot reduce their carbon footprint in production, which they admit to in a statement. Let me paint a picture
- They promote wellness and sustainability on all their socials and pressers.
- They manufacture tees and sweatshirts that emit roughly 1 ton of CO2 for every 150 units.
- They buy carbon credits at around $20-30 per ton of CO2.
- They donate money to essentially clean up that mess and plant trees in Madagascar.
Maybe technically, you can call this sustainable. As closets around the world fill up with “WELLNESS” sweatshirts and “Drink Plenty of Water” hoodies in different colours, is it actually moving the needle in cleaning up rivers and freeing up landfills? How much does a $20 carbon credit push consumers and manufacturers to do better? As fashionheads, we don’t envision a world that’s only technically sustainable by law, I assume.
We simply cannot continue with our old habits of consumption. Green washing the intentions behind our consumption is just adding hype to this entire wave. The idea of letting the masses continuously buy heat from these huge “sustainable” brands isn’t progressive at all. Hopelessly trying to keep up so we don’t repeat outfits should be the antithesis of style, anyway. We’ve seen it before, but I never thought the ceiling could be endless. This competition to see who consumes best is where fast fashion comes in. No, we’re not talking about H&M or Zara, we’re talking about the fast turnover of goods we buy. Consumption is still consumption even after switching to ethically-made brands. It’s still a physical matter occupying your closet. You know, shortly after appearing on the aesthetic pages of your Instagram six weeks ago. It’s almost comical that big fashion brands are supposed to be capable of caring for the earth as they churn out hoodies by the ton. I strongly recommend looking into smaller up-and-coming brands that actually push for change. There’s a lot of innovation brought forth by these new players through upcycling old garments and using processes that are 100% natural. It’s on us, being the market itself, to constantly push back and scrutinize these practices. This will not only put brands on their best behavior, it also makes your purchases leaner. If you take it a step further, maybe not buying a new sustainable tee will be the most sustainable thing you can do this month. (UP NEXT Chapter 2: You’re Welcome for My W)
(All images are sourced via @sportyandrich)