Fighting Fast Fashion

 

Fast Fashion: A term used by retailers to express the designs that capture the ever-changing fashion trends that emerged from the Fashion week catwalk.

Fast Fashion is a low-key tragedy. Some stores that capitalize on this type of consumerism are: Zara, H&M, Forever 21, TopShop, & Primark. Honestly, just walking into one of these stores is overwhelming. I have stepped foot in all but TopShop. Loads of clothes are everywhere, on several floors. Fast Fashion emphasizes style over quality. So, while many shoppers find appealing pieces to add to their wardrobe, the clothing does not last long.

Fast fashion brands recently received a high profile co-sign, as leading ladies Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama have been spotted in dresses from retailers like Zara and H&M. The embrace of “disposable fashion” by such prominent women would have been unheard of just a few decades ago, but speaks to the “democratization of fashion” enabled by mass production, allowing more people to communicate through clothing regardless of their social and economic backgrounds. (Fashionista)

What happens when the leaders of our nation start wearing and therefore, endorsing these products?

Since Fast Fashion is so affordable and cheap, many people have loads of clothing in their closets. However, it is also low quality and doesn’t last long. So – how do you go about getting rid of all your accumulated possessions?

Many people try to sell them to a second hand store; although, several stores are not accepting items from Fast Fashion empires like H&M and Forever 21 because of the bad quality – making it not unable for resale. Therefore, it’s suggested that –

If you’re an American, your next step is likely to throw those old clothes in the trash. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 84 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator.

84 percent. And that was in 2012. Unfortunately, Fast Fashion has continued to grow.

“People like to feel like they are doing something good, and the problem they run into in a country such as the U.S. is that we don’t have people who need [clothes] on the scale at which we are producing,” says Pietra Rivoli, a professor of economics at Georgetown University.

So, What’s the answer?

“The holy grail for sustainability in fashion is closed-loop sourcing,” Marie-Claire Daveu of the global luxury holding company Kering told Vogue.

Closed-loop technology, where a product is recycled back into almost the same product, is a tantalizing prospect for sustainability advocates, because it essentially mimics the natural process of life.

But commercially scalable, closed-loop textile recycling technology is still five to 10 years away, at best. According to a 2014 report commissioned by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, there is closed-loop technology for pure cotton that could take a garment, break it down and reweave—but once cotton is dyed, treated or blended with other materials, the process no longer works. Treated cotton, linen, silk and wool can be mechanically chopped up for recycling, but they yield a low-quality, short fiber that must be mixed with virgin fiber for clothing.”

 

 

Until this closed-loop technology can be efficiently developed, someone else is paying. The question is – who is that someone else?  The documentary called The True Cost provides some insight to this question. The 2 minute trailer is below.

 

The actual business model is completely unsustainable. Unless you change that model, you can’t change anything. When everything is concentrated on making profits, what you see is that human rights, the environment, worker’s rights get lost. My God, we can do better than this. (The True Cost)

The True Cost is available to watch on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc.

 

 

This thought of “fast fashion is like fast food” goes directly back to the quote I mentioned from Gandhi in one of my previous blog posts – “Good travels at a snail’s pace. Evil has wings.” For example, it takes months, maybe years to build a house, but seconds for it to be destroyed.

The fast mindset that our culture has fostered and developed is not sustainable.

One pro-life tip that I have found to be true is: Support what you love, instead of bashing what you hate. Therefore, I do not specifically urge you to start a riot, but to support clothing brands who are getting it right. Below are a list of some brands that are committed to ethical practices.

Brands that appeared in all three articles: Patagonia, People tree, Everlane, Pact Apparel, & Mata Traders

 

Extended Reading:

  • NPR did a Special Series on Fast Fashion, Check it out Here

Other NPR articles on Fast Fashion:

 

Make things happen!

Abby

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