Sustainable Fashion Terms

Sustainable Fashion Terms

Defining sustainable fashion is no easy task as there is no clear cut definition for this term. For those of you starting out on your sustainable fashion journey or simply refreshing your knowledge, we have created a list of key terms and defined them. This is a basic guide to help anyone who is interested.


Artisan is a skilled crafter who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand. When possible, look for clothes made by craftspeople and artisans. This supports their traditional and artisanal expertise, skills and processes to preserve their cultural heritage.

Biodegradable means that a product can break down by bacteria or other natural organisms without any negative effects on the environment, such as releasing harmful chemicals. In the fashion industry, biodegradable often refers to non-synthetic fabrics and those without harmful dyes and finishing chemicals. Cotton, linen & hemp are some examples materials which are biodegradable. At ALEAF, we use bio-based materials made from plants which are partially or fully biodegradable.

Biobased materials are non-synthetic materials made using plants (i.e. pineapple leaves, cactus leaves etc) and other natural agriculture. You can shop our range of bags made from bio-based materials on our website.

Cruelty-free Refers to animal welfare and a product being free from animal testing. Cruelty-free is not the same as vegan products as they may contain animal products or by-products but no animals were harmed during the production. At ALEAF, our products are both cruelty free and vegan. 

Ethical Fashion Most commonly refers to the people aspect of the fashion industry. Ethical fashion focuses on issues such as health & safety, forced labour, child labour, living wages, working conditions. It can also cover the fair treatment of animals, cruelty-free and vegan fashions.

GOTS certified means that the item or the fabric has been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). It reviews the organic status of textiles right from the harvesting of the raw materials through to the environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labelling. It is recognized worldwide and helps provide credible assurance to the consumer. 

Greenwashing also known as Green Sheen, refers to a situation where companies mislead consumers to believe that their products are more ethical or sustainable than they actually are. Although some of these claims may be partially through, companies exaggerate the extent to how environmentally friendly the products really are. It is a marketing and PR tacting used to exploit the increasing demand for environmentally friendly products.

Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

Second hand or thrift fashion are items previously used or owned also better known as “pre-loved”. Honouring the saying ” the most sustainable piece of clothing is the one in your closet or in anybody´s closet!” Second-hand is one of the most sustainable fashion options out there, as you’re reducing your impact by not buying “new”. Plus it keeps clothes out of landfills.

Slow Fashion refers to buying high quality and timeless products that will last longer. Slow fashion focuses more on "style" rather than fashion. It encourages consumers to embrace more mindful consumption habits rather than follow trends.

Sustainability The umbrella term under which all of the other terms fall under. It refers to the sustainable practices such as using sustainable materials, fair working conditions, less harmful production and consumption processes. It also includes the practice of recycling and re-using the product to extend its life.

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