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World Environment Day fashion

Model twins Brett and Scott Staniland explain why more fashion brands should put nature in the boardrooms
Brett and Scott Staniland

This article first appeared in our World Environment Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 05 June 2024. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

The fashion world absolutely loves World Environment Day, and will use it to sell you almost anything.

Brands jump on performative activism to make you think you can only subscribe to World Environment Day by purchasing one of their items, though in most cases only a fraction of the price you pay will actually support the cause.

Many people will rightly be shouting ‘It’s Environment Day every day’ – and for many of us, it is. But how important is ‘the environment’ to fashion brands? Is it just a natural marketing tool for them, or are there any brands that are putting the environment in the boardrooms? 

Changing the system

For decades the capitalism-fuelled fashion industry has focused on growth at all costs; where does degrowth sit in all of this, and how can we switch to a system that allows for profit while paying equal attention to ethics?

This is more of a system-change question and of course legislation, which we’ve spoken about before, is a hugely useful tool when it comes to shifting the system.

France, for example, has proposed a surcharge on the extremely low-cost items sold by fast fashion brands; the money raised would be used to subsidise the additional costs paid by sustainable brands, to make them more economically accessible and, ultimately, to price out fast fashion.

The UK is a little behind on this front, but British beauty brand Faith in Nature has chosen to operate in a degrowth kind of way. It has given nature a seat on the board of directors – essentially asking the question ‘what would nature say?’ at every step when the big decisions are made.

It was proposed this move could lead to a change in UK corporate law, yet it took an entire year for a second British company (House of Hackney) to follow. This was aided by new guidelines and studies from Faith in Nature.

Better business

Brands that subscribe to the Better Business Act are part of a movement to change the law to ensure brands operate in a more responsible way and define a specific corporate purpose beyond financial profit.

So where are the fashion brands? Well for now, not one of them has put nature on the board – and while companies with B Corp certification have mades people and the planet stakeholders, more can definitely be done.

Brands vs buyers

If we look at previous years as examples of what to expect from World Environment Day, it’s pretty safe to predict that many brands will start telling us ‘we’ all need to do more.

Businesses will try to foster a connection with consumers and make us feel we are all in it together. They’ll likely tell us that we need to recycle more and shop more responsibly, completely ignoring the elephant in the room: overproduction.

They’ll use World Environment Day to push the slightly less awful collections they now make, without mentioning they still aim to increase production and aren’t cutting out any of the existing (terrible) lines they produce.

When we look at the problem, fashion brands can do far more than we can as individuals.

Avoiding greenwash

I don’t want to be disheartened when these important days come round, but with so much useless noise from the fashion sector, it’s hard not to disengage.

For now, keep your wits about you and be aware that these events are used by many as marketing tools, Get Out of Jail Free cards or a big distraction from how dire the current state of fashion actually is.

We urge you to connect with the brands, creators and writers doing the work all year round, who won’t be in it just for the profits and aren’t trying to make you feel bad about yourself – who genuinely care about what they do and how they do it.

These are the brands that are leading the way – not the ones shouting the loudest on 05 June.

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