When it comes to greenwashing, consumers are much savvier than they once were. Whereas even five years ago, brands could get away with doing the bare minimum in the sustainable fashion department, releasing a one-off “green collection” on Earth Day and garnering praise via sold Instagram ads, the bar is higher now. As the environmental crisis continues to worsen — according to NASA, 2020 was one of the warmest years on record — every fashion brand has had to confront their own dedication to sustainability and how far they have yet to go before claiming a victory. For brands who are seriously committed to eco-conscious practices, it’s a far more honest thing to claim that they are “not sustainable.”
In February 2018, Noah, a brand founded by Brendon Babenzien in 2015, published a blog post on its website with the headline, “We Are Not A Sustainable Company.” Printed in capital letters, the words were superimposed over a photo of a landfill blurred with a thick layer of smog. Below, the brand spotlighted some of its press mentions — describing Noah as using “the most sustainable practices” and “killing it” on the sustainable front. (The brand sells any damaged or incorrectly produced garments at a discounted price, rather than discarding them, and partners with ocean preservation organizations like Sea Shepherd, among other practices.) “Although we’re very flattered that the press and our supporters frequently compliment our engagement on environmental issues, the way we operate isn’t even close to sustainable. There’s really no such thing as a sustainable clothing company,” it read.