Cheap, disposable and available on demand – this is how ‘fast fashion’ is described by the majority. It feeds the desire of young consumers to own current popular fashion trends. Usually mimicked from luxury brands.
But, why do we buy garments? Clothes are essential and for many an important expression of individuality. Yet, the fashion industry’s current ‘take-make-dispose’ model is one of the main contributors to environmental issues. Orsola De Castro says that fabric outfits represent only 15% of waste in the World. The worst comes at pre-consumer level. The thousands of runs of garments get damaged or over-ordered. For a high street fashion maker, it is cheaper to dispose of them than to upcycle those fabrics. There are 80 billion garments released every year. Fast fashion encourages disposability. A while back, standard turnaround time from the catwalk to the consumer was six months, now it is weeks. Companies like H&M and Zara have their targets to meet. Fast fashion companies thrive on fast cycles, quick copying of trends, speed sewing- usually it happens in countries like Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, where exploitation leads the way. Then swift delivery and garments are on hangers ready to go. To keep customers coming back, retailers source new trends and make their stock purchases on a weekly basis. Avid consumers are primed to visit their favourite shops every couple of weeks to search for the trends. According to a former Topshop director: ‘Girls see something and want it immediately’. Fashion is the industry that embraces obsolescence. The trends pass fast, and it is an embarrassment to wear ‘last months trends’.
Retailers like Zara, which once manufactured all their goods in Europe, now outsource at least 24% of their manufacturing to Asia. It is worth pointing out that the most basic, low-cost clothes are outsourced to Asia. Where does it put workers? It enslaves the worker as well as the factory owner. The Rana Plaza factory case is a great example- a factory in Bangladesh which collapsed in less than 90 seconds, killing 1,134 people. It was called a ‘mass industrial homicide’ by the unions. The building was a structural failure with many defects and was built on very poor quality construction materials. Even though, the factory owner had a legal rule and had to send his workers to the factory on the day it collapsed. The brands are aware of this but still let it happen. They place unreasonable orders and demand unrealistic deadlines.
What can we do to stop it? Can shopping with sustainable brands* save the planet? It can help for certain. It can help to teach people how to buy ‘smarter’. Walk out of being a fashion victim, and search for versatile pieces. But, it is purchasing pre-loved goods what makes a real difference. The after consumer waste decreases (recycling). There are too many new garments produced every year. Buying new ones (even sustainable) is still considered less ethical than buying used.
*A sustainable brand is one that has a meaning or purpose that goes beyond making money, instead seeking to increase the wellbeing of humanity and all life on our planet. It sees people as creativists, not consumers. And it understands the lifecycle and environmental impact of all its activities, so that it can seek to continuously innovate and reduce its impact to a minimum. Source
What is the best place in London? In my opinion Notting Hill!
Here are some examples where I always find great things:
If you feel adventurous you can also walk towards High Street Kensington to check on other Royal Trinity Hospice shop, I personally think they are the best.
Remember, you have a choice. Use it!