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Fashion Myths: Six “Facts” About the Fashion Industry Explained

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The good news is that we now have access to more accurate, robust, and in-depth data on the fashion industry than we did previously. What is the bad news, exactly? Misinformation is a problem in the fashion industry. That means we can’t just stop thinking critically because information is easier to come by! Finding credible sources to back up all of the shocking facts and figures circulating is critical. Thankfully, we have already done the legwork for you. Here are six “facts” about the fashion industry that you may already be aware of, but that merit further investigation.

Myth #1: Fashion is the second most polluting industry on the planet. 

There is no scientific evidence to back up one of the most commonly cited “statistics” about the fashion industry. Despite this, there is a lot of evidence that fashion has a big impact on the environment. According to calculations based on the 2019 Pulse of the Fashion Industry report, the fashion industry is tied with the livestock industry as the world’s third most polluting industry—at least in terms of greenhouse gas emissions—after electricity and heat, agriculture, road transportation, and oil and gas production. That is still a big deal, and it is something we should all be worried about.

Myth #3: Faux fur is a socially or environmentally responsible option. 

Though faux fur has been promoted as a more ethical alternative to real fur, much of it is made of non-biodegradable, chemical-laden materials like nylon, acrylic, and polyester, all of which shed microfibres. And, unfortunately, a scandal in the United Kingdom in 2017 demonstrated that the labels on your clothes are not always reliable. Missguided and House of Fraser, among other high-street retailers, were found to have mislabeled faux fur products made from Chinese cat fur! 

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Because of the large quantities of fur produced around the world, real fur is becoming less expensive to produce than faux fur. This problem is likely to affect more than a few stores. Real and faux fur should be avoided (unless it is made from clearly sustainable materials) or purchased second hand.

Myth #4: Genuine leather is more environmentally friendly than vegan leather. 

Is there a quick solution? Not all of the time, to be sure. True, many fake leather products are made of non-biodegradable plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is made with toxic chemicals that have disastrous consequences for both the environment and factory workers. Although polyurethane (PU), another commonly used material, is less harmful to the environment, it is still not ideal. Animal leather, on the other hand, has a higher environmental impact than PU and is not always biodegradable, depending on how it is treated. 

While leather is a timeless, durable, and ‘natural’ material that can last a lifetime, it can be extremely harmful to both people and the environment during its production. Thankfully, eco-friendly leather alternatives are now available that are far more ethical and, in many cases, more sustainable!


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