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The Sustainable Fashion Trends You Should Be Adding To Your Shopping Cart This Year

by Madigan Landess


Fashion’s hottest 2022 trends are strutting in, and they are revolutionizing the modern wardrobe. More than a fleeting style rush, these trends not only look good — they do good.

Sustainable fashion is the movement for environmental integrity within the fashion footprint. It is the progressive, yet stylish protection of our planet that addresses and reacts to issues such as CO2 emissions, pollution, and overproduction.

Fast fashion has a major impact on the environment. It is responsible for about one-third of all microplastics found in the ocean, and is producing 20% of global water waste, with 85% of all textiles winding up in landfills every year.

This topic of conversation has sat at the popular table for some time. Many fast fashion brands have announced their commitments towards a more environmentally friendly approach, seeming to celebrate a sense of brand vulnerability and self-awareness. Brands like H&M and Zara have recently pulled up a chair, following their announcements in 2017 and 2019.

H&M continues to push for their mission to be 100% sustainable by 2030, alongside Zara in their commitment to use 100% sustainable cellulosic fibers for responsible viscose, along with the absolute eradication of single-use plastics, and the complete adoption of green-only packaging by 2023, according to Vogue. And with the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the retail industry has now completely been turned on its head.

From economic shutdowns, and the rise of digitized shopping, consumers are now analyzing their own personal fashion footprint as well. Perhaps pushing for a more permanent, environmentally conscious movement in 2022. A trend that may never go out of style.

“Thanks to COVID-19 the entire industry has been disrupted,” said Forbes. “People working at home, the absence of social life, and economic uncertainty mean clothing sales are plummeting. Production has stopped; supply chains have shut down. At the same time, more and more consumers are voicing their concerns about the industry’s impact on the planet.”

And now businesses are now realizing this too. That perhaps the weight of success between looking good, and doing good, is actually an equal scale.

So in an effort to help join this sustainable movement in our own personal closets, we are giving you the sustainable shopping trends to watch for in 2022. Giving your closet the earth-loving-climate-aiding-but-still-totally-stylish-makeover it deserves.

1. Mushroom Leather

Animal leather is out, and mushroom leather is in. With its rise in luxury fashion over the past year, this vegan alternative has the potential to not only save millions of animals, but serve as an educational movement that can help aid the climate crisis.

In the United States, around 159 million animals are slaughtered each year for the leather industry. So by this logic, a sustainable alternative like mushroom leather seems like a fashion-no-brainer right? And in sum— it proves to be.  

anne nygard D6P V3CQlnk unsplash 61344Unsplash/ Anne Nygård

Bolt Threads, a biomaterials company working with mushroom leather, has pushed this sustainable conversation further, through their recent collaboration with Stella McCartney’s mushroom leather handbag, shown at Paris fashion week. Stella McCartney has also dropped peaks at their fungi inspired collection for summer 2022. 

Alongside Stella McCartney, many other brands have boarded this sustainable fashion train, with the development of their own mushroom leather products like Adidas, Kering and Lululemon. 

Adidias and Lululemon have already made announcements with their mushroom leather products, with Adidas’ mushroom leather shoes, and Lululemon’s mushroom leather yoga mat— both talked to be released hopefully later this year. Bolt Threads leaves consumers impatiently waiting for more confirmed drops in 2022, according to their website.

Indeed, many brands have already made an asset of this sustainable zeal, but how permanent is the future of mushroom leather within the industry? 

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Dr. Matt Scullin, CEO of biomaterials company MycoWorks, alongside biologist and author Merlin Sheldrake, discuss their predictions on mushroom leather heading into 2022, and how it could be the ultimate sustainability gamechanger to “unlock a future of design.” 

“We have been trained as consumers to think in terms of a straight line whereby we buy something, use it and throw it away,” said Sheldrake to The Guardian. “Fungi can inform thinking about fashion on lots of levels… this is about material innovation, but it’s also about the culture of making endless new things, and what we can learn from thinking in terms of nature and of cycles instead.”

2. Shopping Local 

thank you local 053c2Unsplash/ Tim Mossholder

Shopping at our local boutiques has repeatedly been discussed to have a significant positive impact on the planet and our local economy— from employing local people, sourcing local materials, and minimizing our carbon footprint. And due to COVID-19, the praising of shopping locally continues to be a rising trend for 2022. And why is that you may ask? Put simply: consumer behavior is evolving.

With many businesses forced to shut-down during the pandemic, consumers have taken time to reevaluate and reflect on their shopping values. Values that have sent echoing waves of support and encouragement for small businesses within their local communities. 

According to a recent QuickBooks survey, more than 9 in 10 (93%) of shoppers said that supporting small businesses is more important than ever due to the pandemic. 

Building those more personable relationships seems to be a desired factor within individual shopping experiences; perhaps due to the social distancing mandates that have us in short supply of face-to-face interaction.

The importance of supporting Black-owned businesses for example, has been a trending conversation within this shift. The pandemic has set back many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) businesses, however their progress is being fiercely nurtured within their communities. 

According to reports from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amazon recently launched the Black Business Accelerator program in 2021, committing to provide mentorship, marketing, and promotional support to Black-owned third-party sellers. Alongside, Sephora invited eight brands with BIPOC founders to participate in their six-month Accelerate Incubator Program to help participants master their business skills. Many other brands like Macy’s and Target have also joined the movement in their partnerships with Black-owned businesses as well. 

And even with these larger companies responding to the wake up call of involving themselves within their target communities, finding our own local boutiques to partner and shop with as consumers, should—and always— remain on trend too.

3. Capsule Wardrobing

alexandra gorn WF0LSThlRmw unsplash 234a2Unsplash/ Alexandra Gorn

From our army of lounge sets and basic tees, to retreating to that one blazer for your daily Zoom meeting, it is no secret that the pandemic has transformed our wardrobes to become full of a gray, white, black, and beige camouflaged ‘minimalism.’ 

Perhaps now introducing the possibility and deeper realization that our outfits actually work for multiple occasions. So maybe that one blazer is actually a two-for-one deal that serves as a stylish girls night outfit accessory? And maybe that lounge set can be paired with more than just your house slippers? 

This trend of mixing and matching of clothing does have a name for 2022, and she is better known as— capsule wardrobing

And while this trend appears to be rising in 2022, it dates all the way back to the 1970s. 

Susie Faux, Founder of the London clothing boutique Wardrobe, coined the term and dressed it in stylish, individual confidence. She described capsule wardrobing to be “the collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces,” according to Refinery29. The idea became mainstream once designer Donna Karen created the first capsule collection in 1985— “Seven Easy Pieces.”

By resourcing the same sweater or jacket for multiple outfits and multiple seasons, not only are you pocketing some extra coffee shop funds, but you are also helping to promote slow fashion, and therefore minimizing your carbon footprint.

Layers, for example, are a great capsule wardrobe trick. From pairing a turtleneck top with a button-up and jewelry (currently my 5-day-a-week fit); or a beige trench coat with a simple sweater, jeans, and black boots. These are items that many of us can find in our current wardrobes already. And I mean isn’t that the idea?

Capsule wardrobing allows people to filter out the trending distractions that are caused by the fast fashion industry. It alters our shopping patterns, and with sustainability being a popular conversation leading up to 2022, I am not surprised capsule wardrobing made the list.

However, a capsule wardrobe does not necessarily mean ‘basic and beige.’ Rather it simply encourages the idea of searching for those everyday pieces that pair well together, then minimizing the rest. So maybe that one floral dress you wore one time back in 2015 (and thus never wearing again) can be donated. Now making more room for that vintage sweater, band tee, or whatever else you adore.

4. Secondhand Fashion and The Use of Recycled Textiles 

edward howell cMGg7PyBcOg unsplash 82b0eUnsplash/ Edward Howell

By now, many of us are aware of the issues surrounding the disposal of the short-lived, low quality products within fast fashion. The industry is responsible for around 8 percent of global climate impacts— according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EPA).

However, with post-pandemic business models pushing for growth within the sustainable fashion realm, it is of course only natural that a movement for secondhand fashion is forecasted in 2022. 

Secondhand fashion is the repurposing of old, used clothing. For example, the use of recycled textiles— a sustainable process that gives life back to old clothing fabrics, and overall helps limit raw material exploitation and reduces textile waste. 

Many brands and social media users have already immersed themselves in such clothing practices. From DIY clothing hacks, to sharing their latest social media ‘thrifting tips’— the world of retail is embracing a total fashion revitalization.  

And of course in this conversation, we can’t help but list one of our favorite sustainable textile brands— Suay Sew Shop, featured in our Winter 2021 print edition of BUST. 

Since 2017, Suay Sew Shop founders Lindsay Rose Medoff and Tina Dosewell, along with production manager Silvia Acevedo, have embraced the movement for reusable textile shopping. 

“Suay is here to be a pillar of support to help the community engage in reuse,” says Medoff. 

Which is also the reason they offer many other services such as garment alteration and customization and memory-quilt making, along with monthly community dye baths— allowing their clients the opportunity to mail in or drop off clothing items that need refreshing. 

According to the popular thrifting site thredUp, the secondhand retail market is predicted to double within the next five years. Overall growing eleven times faster than the broader retail clothing sector by 2025, with millions of first time secondhand shoppers joining the movement during the pandemic.

“Society places value on having the latest styles over sustainability,” said WhoWhatWear Editor, Jasmine Fox-Suliaman. “One day, I looked at my closet and realized it was filled with disposable pieces I didn’t love, so I decided to change the way I shop. My solution was to start buying quality secondhand pieces over fast fashion. It turns out great style doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny.”

It has become no secret that sustainability matters to consumers. Offering a funky and fun shopping experience that makes us feel good about our purchases. But 2022’s sustainable fashion trends are proving to be more than just a way to shop. It is audacious and quirky. It is a confidence rooted in a 20 dollar outfit from a thrift store. It is saving the planet one vintage sweater at a time, but even more so— it is a lifestyle.


TOP PHOTO: Unsplash/ Jess @ Harper Sunday

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