From Shein to H&M, fast fashion is cute, cheap and easily accessible to many college students, however there's a darker side to the industry. One that some ASU students are looking to combat.
Fashion is among the highest polluting industries in the world. Creating clothes in a traditional factory releases heavy smog into the sky, polluting the atmosphere, and many textile processes, including dyeing fabric, use large amounts of water. These processes also often use hazardous chemicals that are released into local water systems which provide potable water.
As a result of these practices, the idea of sustainable fashion has been growing in popularity, especially over the past decade. Designers across the world are looking for ways to create, manufacture, distribute and use fashion in a way that is ethical and environmentally friendly.
At ASU, many students and faculty in the fashion program are advocates for this cause. Students and faculty across both the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the College of Global Futures are innovating in their respective fields: fashion and sustainability. Students in these two schools collaborate on projects in order to create solutions to the environmental damage created by the fashion industry.
One space in which the University is working toward making ASU's fashion pedagogy more sustainable can be seen in the Humanities Lab, a research-based class that provides opportunities for students to find solutions to different social challenges, said Juliann Vitullo, the co-director of the Humanities Lab, in an email.
Students who participate in this lab work with faculty from the School of International Letters and Cultures and The Sustainability Consortium, Vitullo said, to construct new solutions for reducing pollution originating from the modern fashion industry.
"I've been spending the time learning how to repair and modify garments that I own in order to keep them in usable condition or to upcycle them and keep them from just ending up in a landfill," said Christopher Schnecke, who graduated from ASU with a bachelor's degree in global studies in May 2022 and studied in the Humanities Lab in Spring 2021.
"I've also been a lot more critical of my own shopping habits and paying attention to the development process of the brands that I buy from in order to minimize the environmental harm and exploitation of textile workers," Schnecke added.