glossary

BIODEGRADABLE: an item that can naturally break down in the environment without causing harm.

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CIRCULAR FASHION: clothes that are designed, produced, and sold to eliminate or control waste and pollution, keep the product and the materials that constitute it in use (while maintaining their quality), and to dispose of it in a way that regenerates the natural systems. 

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DOWNCYCLE: turning waste into reusable material, but of lower quality and functionality than the original material. 

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ETHICAL FASHION: more or less a combination of Fair Trade and sustainable fashion, as it is concerned with both the social and environmental impact of fashion. refers to how the clothing was made, encompassing everything from how the cotton was grown to what the garment workers were paid. seeks to improve the working conditions of laborers by prohibiting sweatshops, child labour, worker abuse, and/or slavery.

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FAIR TRADE FASHION: focuses specifically on the working conditions of the laborers, and in order for a garment to be considered ‘Fair Trade’, must be certified by FairTrade USA. 

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FASHION REVOLUTION: a product of the rana plaza factory collapse and subsequent death of 1138 garment workers on april 24th, 2013, fashion revolution is a global movement that believes in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. fashion revolution week happens every april and promotes the #whomademyclothes campaign for transparency in the fashion supply chain.

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FAST FASHION: an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

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GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARD (GOTS): certifies that a product remains organic through every stage of production from beginning to final product. includes all aspects of manufacturing from use of biodegradable and toxin-free dyes, low-impact waste treatment and water supply systems in factories, fair labor practices and thus final products that are free of allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemical residues. currently one of the most trusted organic textile certifications globally.

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GLOBAL RECYCLE STANDARD: indicates that the product contains recycled content. content often in the form of recycled polyester or rPET, which is often found in sportswear and cotton/rPET fabric blends.

GREENWASHING: when a company gives a false impression that its products are more ethical and sustainable than they really are. this is a problem increasing in incidence as brands try to capitalize on the growing demand for eco-friendly and ethical products. 

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LIVING WAGE: the minimum wage income necessary for workers to meet their basic needs and live a decent life. It's different from the legal minimum wage which is usually way below the living wage.

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ORGANIC: refers to raw materials that are not genetically modified (GM) and have been grown without any chemical pesticides and insecticides.

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RECYCLING: the action of converting waste into something reusable.

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SLOW FASHION: the direct opposite of fast fashion; focuses on creating garments with quality and longevity in mind. though it is not by default sustainable, ethical, or Fair Trade, many slow fashion brands create with these principles in mind.

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SUSTAINABLE FASHION: aka ‘eco-fashion’; focuses on the environmental impact of clothing and production methods. seeks to create a circular system that lessens human impact on the environment through the consumption of clothing. 

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TRANSPARENCY: the practice of openly sharing information about how, where and by whom a product was made.

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UPCYCLE: turning waste into reusable material, but of better quality. requires less energy than recycling, and so has a better environmental impact.

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VEGAN: in fashion, garments that have been designed with zero animal products and by-products.