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Fashion Resource Guide Definitions

  • Anthropogenic Cycles: These cycles are created by people. They are production and consumption cycles of products, services, and systems that constitute the human economy. (Source: MIT) 

  • Biodegradable: Fabric that will decompose naturally when buried in soil. The more chemicals the material has, the longer it will take to decompose, in addition to an increase in environmental damage. The time it takes for the fabric to disintegrate depends on the fiber makeup, soil composition, temperature, and some break down more quickly in industrial composting facilities or when bacteria and fungi are added.  

  • Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. (Source: WWF)

  • Biogeochemical Cycles: The appreciation of the interplay of atmosphere (oxygen, nitrogen, CO2, CH4, water vapor), biosphere (flora, fauna, species, & generic diversity), lithosphere (metals, minerals, geothermal, earth's crust) and hydrosphere (water, ice, oceans, cryosphere), demonstrated by stromatolites, coupled with the realization that many Earth processes are cyclic, has lead to the concept of the  biogeochemical cycle. This term is applied to the flux of material in and out of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, and atmosphere (which collectively constitute the geosphere), and the chemical and physical changes that occur therein. (Science Direct)

  • Bolt-On Sustainability: Pursue shareholder value, Add symbolic wins at the margins, Offer "green" and "socially responsible" products at premium prices or with diminished quality, Focus on risk mitigation and improved efficiencies, Manage company's activities. (Source: IEDC)

  • Capitalism: An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. (Source: Oxford) Within this system alone, consumption is key, which puts a tremendous amount of stress on the environment. Those who own the companies, especially the shareholders, refrain from distributing the wealth properly, creating inequality and huge wealth gaps presenting economic and social issues among middle and working-class people. 

  • Circular Economy: A circular economy preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows. It is designed to be restorative and regenerative, and through a continuous cycle, it aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. (Source: Ashby et al., 2019) 

  • The Circular Economy defined by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation: "A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems."

  • Code of Conduct From Clean Clothes Campaign: the detailed standards to which it holds its supplier(s) accountable. Codes of conduct vary in content and level of commitment. Our Model Code encompasses the core labor standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and additional criteria. 

  • Colonialism: a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. One of the difficulties in defining colonialism is that it is hard to distinguish it from imperialism. ( Source: Stanford)

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): "is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public." CSR is a brand concept known to deal with philanthropy and charitable contributions mainly. 

  • Cowboy Economies: The mindset that the Earth has unlimited resources and reserves: “the illimitable plains and also associated with reckless, exploitative, romantic, and violent behavior, which is characteristic of open societies” (Boulding, 1966).

  • Diversity & Inclusion: Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. In a nutshell, it’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. Diversity allows for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.   
    Inclusion: Inclusion is an organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated. These differences could be self-evident, such as national origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion/belief, gender, marital status and socioeconomic status or they could be more inherent, such as educational background, training, sector experience, organizational tenure, even personality, such as introverts and extroverts.  Inclusion is a sense of belonging. Inclusive cultures make people feel respected and valued for who they are as an individual or group.  (Source: Global Diversity Practice)

  • Embedded Sustainability: Pursue sustainable value, transform core business activities, offer "smarter" solutions with no trade-off in quality and no social or green premium, reach across all seven levels of sustainable value creation, manage across the product or service life cycle value chain. (Source: IEDC)

  • Ethical Fashion: The fair and ethical treatment of working people in the supply chain concerning health and safety, respectful working environments, living wages, and exploitation. Animal welfare also falls under the ethics category. 

  • Fair Trade: Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first. When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified seal, you can be sure it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. (Source: Fair Trade Certified) 

  • Fast Fashion: Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. (Source: Oxford)

  • Imperialism: Is a system in which a rich and powerful country controls other countries, or a desire for control over other countries. ( Source: Collins) The fact of a powerful country increasing its influence over other countries through business, culture, etc. (Source: Oxford) 

  • International Labour Organization (ILO): The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919, the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member states, to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs promoting decent work for all women and men.

  • Intersectionality: Coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, " A metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality are disadvantaged, sometimes compound themselves. They create obstacles that often are not understood within conventional ways of thinking about anti-racism or feminism or other social justice advocacy structures we have. It's a prism for understanding certain kinds of problems."  (Kimberle Crenshaw)                                                                  The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. (Source: Oxford) 

  • Linear Economy: sometimes referred to as the take-make-waste economy, is a system where resources are extracted to make products that eventually end up as waste and are thrown away. (Source: EllenMacArthur)

  • Living Wage: Remuneration received for a standard work week by a worker in a particular time and place sufficient to afford a decent standard of living includes food, water, housing, education, healthcare, transport, clothing, and other essential needs including provision for unexpected events. (Source: Global Living Wage Coalition

  • Recycle: The action or process of converting waste into reusable material. (Source: Oxford) An example of recycled clothing is a pair of polyester work out pants or a fleece jacket made from recycled plastic bottles giving it a second life. Plastic sheds microfibers that end up in the ocean when washed prompting further industry engagement.

  • 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. Practices that (i) contribute to generating/building soils and soil fertility and health; (ii) increase water percolation, water retention, and clean and safe water runoff; (iii) increase biodiversity and ecosystem health and resiliency; and (iv) invert the carbon emissions of our current agriculture to one of remarkably significant carbon sequestration thereby cleansing the atmosphere of legacy levels of CO2. (Source: Regenerative International) 

  • Spaceship Economies: The idea that the Earth has limited resources and must create a “cyclical ecological system which is capable of continuous reproduction of material form, even though it cannot escape having inputs of energy” (Boulding, 1966).

  • Sustainability is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations' ability to meet their own needs." (Source: The Brundtland Report) The three e's or three pillars of sustainability are Ethics, Environment, and Economy, often referred to as People, Planet, and Profit. 

  • GOTS (Global Organic textile Standard): GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. GOTS certified final products may include fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes, home textiles, mattresses, personal hygiene products, as well as food contact textiles and more. (Source: GOTS) 

  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG): Please refer to IPCC and UNFCC 

  • Greenwash: to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. (Source: Cambridge) 

  • GuppyFriend: A bag designed to reduce the amount of microfibers that shed during washing synthetic clothes. 

  • Human Trafficking: The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose, including forced labor or sexual exploitation.

  • Microfibers are microscopic plastic fibers released from synthetic textiles when washing them in a washer machine. Water treatment plants aren't able to catch them, so they're released into oceans, rivers, and lakes. Eventually, they may end up in our food chain. 

  • Natural Capital: "Natural capital" refers to the living and nonliving components of ecosystems--other than people and what they manufacture. that contribute to the generation of goods and services of value for people. Capital assets take many forms, including manufactured capital (buildings and machines), human capital (knowledge, skills, experience, and health), social capital (relationships and institutions), and financial capital (monetary wealth), as well as natural capital. Multiple forms of capital interact to generate goods and services. For example, fish harvesting depends on the availability of fish stocks (natural capital), which depend on high-quality habitat (natural capital), but harvesting also depends on fishing vessels (manufactured capital, backed by financial capital), the skills and experience of fishers (human capital), and fisheries governance (social capital). (Source: PNAS)

  • Net Positive: "Net Positive is a new way of doing business which puts back more into society, the environment, and the global economy than it takes out. Organizations that take a Net Positive approach share an ambition to grow their brand, have strong financial performance, and attract the brightest talent. Spread across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors, they recognize that business is a marathon, not a sprint, along new routes that are still emerging."

  • Organic: The process of not using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and gmo seeds when growing raw materials such as cotton or linen. 

  • Petroleum-based Fabrics: Include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and spandex. These fibers derive from petrochemical sources such as oil (coal) and natural gas (which includes fracking), otherwise known as synthetics. Besides the extreme amount of carbon dioxide released into the earth's atmosphere and the dangers in obtaining these raw materials, they release microfibers that end up in our oceans when washed. Traceability back to its original source is rare.  

  • Sustainable Development Goals: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

  • Traceability: Fashion brands ability and willingness to trace their supply chain from farm or origin all the way through to the stores. This includes the social aspect and environmental impact.  

  • Transparency: The process of sharing and publishing information regarding environmental impact and ethics in every step of the supply chain. This gives customers an idea of what they are buying. 

  • The Triple Bottom Line theory expands the traditional accounting framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of their company. These three bottom lines are often referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. (Source:

  • Upcycling: Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. (Source: Oxford) An example is reinventing, repurposing, refashioning an article of clothing enhancing its function and eliminating waste. 

  • Vegan: Eliminating animal and animal by-products in clothing, shoes and accessories. Textiles such as cashmere, wool, alpaca, vicuna, shearling, leather, exotic skins, fur, angora, silk come from animals. 

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