Featured image for blog post: "SUSTAINABLE FASHION - Style With A Purpose" by State of Matter, showing discarded plastic bottles on a wooden surface, highlighting the issue of waste in fashion.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

What does sustainable clothing mean? Sustainable fashion is an ideology that encourages the fashion industry to create and produce clothes to reduce their environmental impact. It's the ideology of innovation and courage.

Sustainable fashion is also a consumer choice to buy eco-friendly clothing made of sustainable materials for fashion using sustainable manufacturing practices.

Sustainable fashion covers various aspects, including materials, manufacturing processes, and ethical standards of brands. It encompasses using sustainable materials, efficient water and energy management, ethical manufacturing practices, and promoting fair trade.

We at State of Matter Apparel are fearless! Why? Because we are set to lead men’s fashion to sustainability. Our vision was to manufacture clothing as sustainably as humanly possible. We started where most brands stopped and kept breaking all the conventional approaches - from fabric production to clothes manufacturing to distribution.  

In this blog post, let's talk about our favorite subject! Sustainable fashion: what it is, what is sustainable clothing, why it's important, and how it will change the future of fashion.

What is Sustainable Clothing?

Sustainable clothing, also known as eco-friendly or ethical fashion, is a growing trend in the fashion industry that promotes environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout the entire lifecycle of a garment. It aims to minimize the negative impact of fashion on the planet and the people involved in its production.

Sustainable clothing encompasses various aspects, including the materials used, the manufacturing process, and the overall ethical standards of the brands involved.

Fashion doesn't have to be a dirty word! Last few years, fashion industry innovators showed that fashion could make a difference and become a part of a global solution - not a problem.

Consumers are well aware of the negative impacts of fast fashion and are demanding sustainable alternatives. Sustainable fashion is responding and seeking solutions to address these concerns.

As defined by UNESCO, sustainable fashion is "the process of creating, producing, and wearing clothing that minimizes harmful environmental and social consequences while enhancing desirable outcomes."

More and more fashion companies try eco-conscious business models that match their environmental footprint by reducing their environmental impact. These models include (but are not limited to):

  1. Using sustainable materials for fashion
  2. Using sustainable water management
  3. Using sustainable energy
  4. Offsetting carbon footprint
  5. Eliminating hazardous chemicals
  6. Improving worker's well-being
  7. Using ethical manufacturing practices
  8. Supporting fair trade
  9. Reducing waste and taking action to achieve a circular economy, including recycling and upcycling used clothes
  10. Constant technological innovation to produce even more sustainable materials (for example, investing in "waste-to-value" plastics recycling).

Importance of Sustainable Clothing

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the fashion industry is responsible for approximately 20% of global water pollution due to chemicals used in production. Sustainable fashion brands focus on reducing water usage, reusing water in manufacturing, and adopting sustainable materials that require less water.

Sustainable clothing is essential for mitigating the harmful effects of the fashion industry on the environment. It reduces the consumption of natural resources, minimizes waste generation, and decreases pollution levels. Moreover, sustainable fashion promotes fair labor practices, ensuring the well-being and safety of workers involved in the production process. By supporting sustainable clothing, consumers can make a positive impact and contribute to a more ethical and eco-friendly fashion industry.

Sustainability Basics

The fashion manufacturing and distribution process include many parts. It's a complex system. Let's discuss the four foundational blocks of sustainable fashion.

#1: Carbon Footprint

First, we want to understand the carbon footprint of each step that the garment generates: from growing and producing fabrics, zippers, and buttons to assembling and packaging to transportation and retail distribution.

The fashion industry produces more carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined! To address this systemic problem, a sustainable fashion brand needs to understand, measure, and be transparent about its process. Three simple steps to carbon neutrality are:

  • Calculate carbon footprint
  • Reduce emissions
  • Offset emissions

#2: Water Footprint

Next, we want to understand how much water each part of the garment uses. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It's responsible for about 20% of global water pollution. Over 2 thousand chemicals are used to turn raw materials into clothes, many of which are released into waterways.

The water footprint is the total freshwater volume used to produce a product. It includes the direct and indirect water usage of all the steps in the supply chain. To reduce your water footprint, sustainable fashion brands need to:

  • Eliminate or reduce the use of hazardous chemicals
  • Reuse water in the manufacturing process
  • Use sustainable materials that require less water to produce
  • Educate employees and consumers about sustainable water usage
  • Support initiatives that protect freshwater resources
  • Lead by example with sustainable policies and practices

#3: Plastics Footprint

The fashion industry's plastic footprint is huge!

 It's responsible for the pollution of our oceans and the deaths of marine animals. Every year, millions of tons of plastic are produced, most of which is used to make clothes. Synthetic fabrics made from petroleum-based materials release microplastics into the water when they're washed.  These Microplastic's are released from clothing due to the abrasion during household washing, like washing machines.

These microplastics are then consumed by marine life and enter the food chain.

Packaging is another problem. Plastic-free fabrics and packaging are not yet widely available, but some sustainable fashion brands are working on it. In the meantime, sustainable fashion brands can take action to reduce their plastic footprint by using sustainable materials and reducing packaging.

Sustainable fashion brands need to:

  • Use sustainable materials for fashion made from renewable resources
  • Eliminate or reduce the use of plastic packaging
  • Support initiatives that reduce ocean pollution
  • Educate employees and consumers about sustainable alternatives to plastic
  • Lead by example with sustainable policies and practices

Our Phoenix shirts are made from recycled garment waste. The industry is changing and so much more can be recycled to make new garments than ever before!

#4: Fair & Ethical Practices

"There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness." – Mahatma Gandhi.

According to  International Labour Organization (ILO), sustainable fashion emphasizes fair and ethical treatment of workers, promoting fair wages and safe working conditions. Brands must ensure their supply chains are free from forced or child labor.

Fast fashion leads to slavery and child labor in the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion is not possible without ethical practices not only towards the planet but also towards people who are involved in making clothes. Sustainable fashion brands must ensure that their employees are treated fairly and paid a living wage. Furthermore, sustainable fashion brands must ensure that their supply chain does not include forced or child labor.

The good news is that sustainable fashion brands lead the way with sustainable and ethical practices. Here are a few things that sustainable fashion brands can do to ensure fair and ethical practices:

  • Ensure that employees are treated fairly and paid a living wage
  • Ensure that their supply chain does not include any forced or child labor
  • Educate employees and consumers about the importance of sustainable and ethical practices
  • Lead by example with sustainable and ethical policies and practices

Many Dimensions of Sustainable Fashion

There are many trends and dimensions that define sustainable fashion creation. Let's mention just a few:

  • Recycled: Recycled apparel is made from recycled clothing by-products.
  • Organic: Natural products are produced without pesticides, hazardous chemicals, or raw materials.
  • Vintage: A new lease of life is given to older secondhand clothing and upcycled apparel.
  • Upcycle: Repairing secondhand clothing or making new items all together. Secondhand clothing is turned into new fashion items.
  • Vegan: Leather or animal tissue product-free goods.
  • Locally sourced : It includes items that require little transportation and add to the local economy and those produced in-house.
  • Fair Trade Certified: Products from companies that respect workers and their human rights.
  • Artisan: Family small-scale business practices and traditions are maintained during the production cycle.
  • Custom-made: This trend aims to persuade consumers to choose higher-quality, long-lasting products rather than low-cost, disposable clothing.

Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion

"Slow clothing is a philosophy. It is a way of thinking about, choosing, and wearing clothes to ensure they bring meaning, value, and joy to every day." – Jane Milburn.

There are two main camps when it comes to fashion: those who prefer "fast" and "slow" fashion. While fast fashion has advantages, one of the benefits of slow fashion is a more sustainable way to shop. Fast fashion is about getting the latest trends at a low price, even if it means sacrificing quality or sustainability. On the other hand, slow fashion is about buying well-made items that will endure for years.

Slow fashion is sustainable in many ways:

  1. Clothes made to use better-quality materials have a lower environmental impact.
  2. Another one of the benefits of slow fashion supports local economies and craftspeople instead of benefiting large conglomerates.
  3. By buying fewer clothes overall, slow fashion helps to reduce textile waste.

In contrast, fast fashion often relies on cheap materials and mass production, which can harm both people and the planet.

Slow Fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion

Both sustainable and slow fashion emphasize quality over quantity, but sustainable fashion goes a step further by considering the entire life cycle of a garment.

Slow fashion is about slowing down the pace of consumption and valuing quality over quantity. It's about buying fewer clothes that will last longer and wearing them more often. Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, is about making sure those clothes don't come at the expense of people or the planet.

Sustainable fashion considers all aspects of a garment's life cycle, from material sourcing to production to disposal. It implies utilizing environmentally friendly materials, adhering to ethical manufacturing standards, and buying from fair trade merchants. It also means creating garments that can be repaired or recycled instead.

Of course, sustainable fashion doesn't have to be boring or expensive. There are plenty of sustainable brands that offer stylish, affordable clothing.

Eco-fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion

Eco-fashion uses environmentally friendly materials and production processes, while sustainable fashion takes a more holistic approach that includes considerations like fair labor practices and social impact.

Eco-fashion has the advantage of reducing the fashion industry's environmental impact. Eco-friendly brands often use low-impact dying techniques and local production to reduce their carbon footprint further. While eco-fashion is certainly commendable, it can sometimes be difficult to find eco-friendly options that are also stylish and affordable.

There are several ways to do this, such as using organic cotton or bamboo instead of traditional fabrics like polyester.

Non-toxic Dyes

One area of sustainable fashion that is often overlooked is non-toxic dyes.

Most conventional dyes are made from petroleum products and other toxic chemicals. These chemicals can pollute waterways and soil and cause skin irritations and other health problems. Non-toxic dyes, on the other hand, are made from natural ingredients like plant extracts and minerals.

Non-toxic dyes can be just as effective as conventional dyes, resulting in beautiful, vibrant colors. They are much safer for both the environment and human health. For these reasons, it is important to seek brands that use non-toxic dyes in their garments.

Key Benefits of Sustainable Fashion

There are many benefits to sustainable fashion. According to recent research, "Fashion Sustainability: Benefits of Using Sustainable Practices in Producing Sustainable Fashion Designs," The findings uncovered four themes. Sustainable fashion could:

  1. Reduce environmental pollution
  2. Increase consumer convenience
  3. Reduce costs
  4. Increase societal development

The production of sustainable clothing is very important in preserving the environment. Researchers concluded that "measures to reduce environmental pollution are in the hands of manufacturers or the industry as well as the consumers in their buying behaviors. Education institutions are one of the key platforms facing future challenges. Education for sustainable development is essential to today’s society not only for their lives and career but to the nation as well."

Sustainable fashion is not only good for the environment and people across the globe, but it can also be good for your wallet, as sustainable clothing is often made to last longer than fast fashion items. When you buy sustainable fashion, you vote with your dollars for a better world!

The Future of Sustainable Fashion

What is sustainable clothing future looking like? The future of sustainable fashion is looking bright. With an increasing awareness of the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry, more and more consumers are demanding sustainable options. In response, brands are beginning to offer more environmentally friendly and ethically produced clothing.

Additionally, new technologies are making it easier and more cost-effective to produce sustainable fabrics. As the demand for sustainable fashion grows, the industry will likely continue to evolve to meet this demand. In the future, sustainable fashion will be more accessible, affordable, and stylish than ever.

How can I be stylish and sustainable?

“Think of yourself as a curator, rather than a consumer.” – Christine Koh

Many sustainable fashion brands offer stylish and sustainable clothing. Just take a look at our top two elegant picks!

#1:Triton Chino Pants ($118).  Our triton chinos are made of RENU polyester which is a fabric whose process for recycling old garments and textiles into like-new polyester rivals the industry standard of only using select plastic waste.

#2: Phoenix Long Sleeve Shirt ($98). Soft to the touch, lightweight, and so much stretch, you will double-check to make sure you have on a shirt at all. Sustainably made fabric using 88% RENU polyester, 12% LYCRA® EcoMade elastane.


The sustainable fashion movement is gaining momentum as more and more consumers become aware of the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion brands are beginning to offer more environmentally friendly and ethically produced clothing. Additionally, new technologies are making it easier and more cost-effective to produce sustainable fabrics. As the demand for sustainable fashion grows, the industry will likely continue to evolve to meet this demand. In the future, sustainable fashion will be more accessible, affordable, and stylish than ever!

At State of Matter, we are moving men forward! With a strong sustainability mindset, we walk the talk. We've been in menswear for a long time, and we're seeing more and more guys embrace change in how they look and perceive the world. We are here to assist this transformation because we believe everyone has the right to be free and fearless.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is sustainable clothing more expensive than conventional clothing?

While sustainable clothing may have a higher upfront cost, it offers long-term value due to its durability and higher quality. Investing in sustainable clothing can ultimately save money as the garments last longer and reduce the need for frequent replacements.

Are sustainable fashion brands only focused on environmental sustainability?

No, sustainable fashion brands prioritize both environmental and social sustainability. They consider factors such as fair labor practices, workers' rights, and community empowerment, in addition to minimizing their environmental impact.

How can I identify sustainable fashion brands?

Look for certifications such as Fair Trade, GOTS, or B Corp, as they indicate a brand's commitment to sustainability. Additionally, research a brand's transparency, ethical practices, and use of sustainable materials to make an informed decision.

Can I contribute to sustainable fashion without buying new clothes?

A4. Absolutely! You can contribute to sustainable fashion by adopting practices like upcycling, repairing and altering garments, swapping clothes with friends, or supporting secondhand and vintage markets.

How does sustainable clothing benefit the environment?

Sustainable clothing minimizes the use of natural resources, reduces pollution and waste, and promotes circularity in fashion. By choosing sustainable options, you help preserve ecosystems, conserve water, and decrease carbon emissions associated with the fashion industry.