Let’s attempt to understand the global minefield of the fashion industry in terms of environmental and human impact, and together find durable solutions to improve our shopping habits.
The Fast fashion industry produces approximately 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, as much as the European Union. It dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams. While 85% of all textiles go to dumps each year. Even washing clothes releases microfibres, equating to 35% of the primary plastic that is polluting our oceans each year.
Fast fashion also poses societal problems, especially in developing economies, due to the rapid production required to sustain supply and demand. According to studies 80% of apparel is made by young women between the ages of 18 and 24. There is even evidence that fast fashion can supersede human welfare by forced and child labour in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and others.
The fashion industry needs to fundamentally change in order to mitigate the environmental impact of fast fashion. There are many issue exacerbating the problems of fast fashion – the main being cheap clothes bought and cast aside in rapid succession as trends change – such as the £1 bikini sold by Missguided in 2019. The irony in shopping fast fashion is; the more you buy, the more you want. The more you want, the more you waste.
Fast fashion is ‘fast’ in a number of senses: the rate of production is fast; the customer’s decision to purchase is fast; delivery is fast; and garments are worn fast, usually only a few times before being discarded. It is a model that is entirely unsustainable, one that could be partially solved by brands and designers focusing on producing better quality, long-lived items, using more sustainable fabrics like wild silk, organic cotton, linen, hemp and lyocell.
There’s a perception that sustainable fashion is expensive – this isn’t necessarily the case. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, however consumer demand is what’s going to make sustainable fashion affordable for all – meaning that it’s important to support brands with strong eco-credentials, and ask more of those that aren’t currently doing enough. That will lead to brands investing more in sustainable materials and technologies and in turn, lead to prices falling. “It’s supply and demand;
Innovations like By Rotation, and new approaches to re-sale could be up scaled in order to turn fast fashion into slow fashion. In the mean time, we spoke to professional stylist Milda Cergelyte's who shared her top 5 tips to buying less and transforming your wardrobe in the process...
1. Think Before You Buy
Keep a wish-list of the pieces you desire, taking time to decide if the entire list is really necessary. Will the items complement the rest of your wardrobe? Will they last more than a season? Impulsive purchases are one of the most common mistakes made, so before you part with your hard earn't money, think if the wish list item you are considering will work with at least five - ten other items you currently own.
Brands like Novo are key when thinking fashion for the future. Using quality wools and materials to create a capsule wardrobe which can be worn in multiple lifestyle settings, taking it from the office to the streets.
2. Re-sell Or Donate
Many stylists use the "one in, one out" rule, mine is more of a monthly wardrobe review and a little purge. I look to see if there are any pieces, used or unused that I can re-sell or donate. This not only helps toward the impact of fast fashion, it can contribute towards Charity or those less fortunate, plus de-cluttering can have a positive affect on your mindset.
3. Treat Your Wardrobe With Respect
Look after your garments and accessories. Don't disregard or toss items if they are easily repairable or able to be restored, vintage pieces have much more character to them also, creating a sentimental value and uniqueness you don't find on all the racks!
4. Colour Scheme
I know this one sounds boring, especially as all you probably see on your insta-feed are "beige minimalists." Working with a colour palette that works with your complexity will save you lots of money and time. By working on monochrome or two tone looks you will be able to make multiple outfits from very few garments, so find a colour scheme that suits your style.
I often travel and can pack very easily when I pick only 3 colours to work with, and rotate for that particular trip, so one suitcase could last me weeks and I would never wear the same outfit!
5. Trends Are Temporary
Avoid following a trend because you see everyone wearing it. These micro-trends are usually over "in" for 15minutes, you also risk becoming bored of it faster due to the lack of connection linked to your personality.
Trends are often built by savvy marketing professionals. So the Dior bag that you probably saw on ALL influencers on the same day is not a coincidence. You are pretty much manipulated into wanting it. Your style is eternal, so create your vibe based around an Iconic women you adore, movie characters or art and the values you live by.
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