The Lay of the Land:
The fashion industry is a significant contributor to the global economy. We, as consumers, need to be extremely conscious of our choices as these decisions will determine the future of this industry, and therefore, the planet.
To make conscious decisions about purchases, we need to be aware of all the different options available to us.
Fashion is presently one of the world’s largest polluting industries. As conscious customers, we need to be aware of how the clothes that we use are made, who made them, and what will happen to the products when we dispose them.
Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion are highly trending words in fashion terminology, but few know the exact meaning and implications of it. Let us try and understand more.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion is a term used to describe a business model where companies imitate styles and trends found on the runway and produce them at much lower price points and quality to sell them in the mass markets.
Nowadays, a year, that is almost one new collection each weak. The turn around time from paper to production and retail can be a minimum of 2 weeks compared to the fashion houses which produce two collections a year and have a much longer turnaround time. Social media has fuelled the growth of Fast Fashion as many people follow fashion influencers who post pictures of themselves in different styles, often not wearing the same garment twice.
Despite the swift process, fast fashion products can have a lower price; this is due to the techniques used in manufacturing them.Fast fashion brands exploit cheap labour found in places like Cambodia, Viet Nam, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia to produce garments at a fraction of their actual price. The workers are put in hazardous work environments and are expected to produce unreasonable amounts of garments in a short time. Like the fashion journalist, Lucy Siegle said: “Fast Fashion isn’t free. Someone somewhere is paying for it.”
Fast Fashion, in turn, produces an excess of garments for consumers who use them a hand full of times and then discard them to buy new clothes according to the latest trends, which by then would be again available for low prices in the market. These discarded clothes get into landfills which, along with other garbage releases toxic greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
What is Slow Fashion?
In contrast, Slow Fashion is the process of creating, buying, designing, and using garments in a way that lengthens the lifespan of a garment and its quality.
Slow fashion brands, on the other hand, focus on slowing down the production and consumption cycle. They keep in mind what goes into a garment, who makes the garment, and how it is made to attain good quality, and not compromise on ethical methods of production. Slow Fashion is not a trend but a philosophy born out of the need for an ethical approach to Fashion.
Compared to fast fashion brands which use an abundance of fabrics made from petroleum byproducts, slow fashion brands focus on using fibres from organic, recycled, repurposed and upcycled materials. The garments are not mass-produced, while local raw materials are procured, and craftsmanship is given prominence. Some brands even make sure that the customer is aware of the entire lifecycle of the garment so that he or she can make a conscious choice. The effort put into making the clothing not only makes it long-lasting and unique but also develops an emotional bond between the customer and the garment, which in turn contributes to emotional sustainability. Garments we tend to have connects with, lasts longer with us as we give it importance.
How do you endorse Slow Fashion?
a) Buy into the philosophy
Slow Fashion imbibes a set of principles that aim to improve how we engage with Fashion on multiple levels to create a balanced and sustainable industry with a healthy product lifecycle. Believe in the ethos so you can make conscious decisions towards this philosophy.
b) Pick your slow fashion brands
Robert Swan said, "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it". So its high time that both the creators and consumers take well-thought actions towards creating a better world.
c) Pick carefully and consciously
The more your garments last and look good, the longer you can use them and the lesser you have to purchase new clothes.
d) Discover your style
Discovering your style will allow you to stop having the urge to keep buying clothes that match the latest trends. Instead, invest in better clothes, that fit your style, and will last much longer.
e) Discard your old clothes responsibly
Do not throw your old clothes in the bin. There are a lot of things you can do with them. You can have them recycled, donate them to the needy, or turn them into carry bags or other useful items to use around the house.