Fashion to slowly die for: everything about sustainability
Fast fashion, sustainability and me
Today I would like to talk about sustainability and fast fashion because I believe not only high-end fashion brands should be sustainable. In the last year I tried to be a fashion-conscious person, sustainability becoming a major issue for me. I’ve been a shopaholic for many years, filling my wardrobe with garments that I hardly or never wore. I bought clothes that still have their tags on because I couldn’t leave a shop without buying something. I’m glad those days have faded away even though I sometimes buy myself an item just because „it’s really cute” and I have nothing similar to it. So I eventually can’t adapt the new piece to the clothes I already have which means I probably never gonna wear it.
Nowadays I’m focusing more on basic pieces rather than buying the latest trends. I choose to leave with only one quality piece at a higher price that lasts for at least two years rather than going crazy and spending my money on 3 or 4 garments from the new collection that will probably be forgotten by the end of the season. I am also a big fan of Depop or local SH shops where I can find the coolest bargains and save some money and clothes at the same time. When shopping from fast fashion retailers, I’m trying to choose from sustainable collections as such as H&M Conscious, Mango Committed and Zara Join Life. These collections are offering beautifully tailored garments from recycled materials or organic cotton at the same price as the other collections do so don’t be scared about investing in ethically made pieces.
„Fast fashion” is a term used for inexpensive clothing, which is the result of high-end designs, produced in the fastest possible way by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. In a nutshell, fast fashion simply means the obsession of society with unthoughtful consumption, which has led to huge amounts of low priced clothing and cheap fibres which are related to environmental pollution and unjust labour.
Some of the fast fashion retailers are: Primark, H&M, Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, C&A, New Look, Next, Vans, Topshop, Mango, River Island, Esprit, NewYorker and co.
What should we know about fast fashion?
FACT1: growing cotton requires a major amount of water, only the manufacturing of a cotton t-shirt consisting of 2,700 litres of water in order to grow the necessary cotton for one piece of garment.
FACT2: the fashion industry is also exploiting human resources in third and usually second world countries, such as India, Bangladesh, and many more, including even Romania. Eighty percent of garment workers are women between 18 and 25, their minimum wage being about £50 per month.
FACT3: fast fashion means if you pay £5 for a shirt, somebody in the world has been underpaid and poorly treated.
Love it or hate it, unfortunately fast fashion has totally changed the fashion industry, having major impacts on people and planet, reported as the second most polluting industry after oil.
Fast fashion garments are priced lower than the competition, being able to produce low quality and high volume, which has led to overconsumption, these goods being replaced more often because of their poor quality. This consumer behaviour results in new giant landfills and clothing ending up as waste, being hardly or never recycled.
Whereas fast fashion means a major advantage for customers, it has led to a throw-away attitude, embodying sustainability and putting pressure on suppliers in order to deliver new and cheap collections on a daily basis. That kind of pressure caused the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, causing the death of almost 1130 people, according to Gillian B. White (2017). This was the deadliest accident in the fashion industry, which played a major role in stepping towards to a more sustainable approach.
Mass-market retailers and their approach to sustainability
Designers and mass-market retailers are working on reducing the fashion industry’s carbon footprint, trying to come up with different ethical collections and ideas of recycling. More importantly, there have been major improvements in the fashion industry towards a more sustainable approach in the last few years, the problems being exposed and debated, mostly by Fashion Revolution, which tries to reach more mass-market retailers in order to give up their transparency index.
Retailers like H&M, Zara and Mango are working on different sustainable collection. These mass- market retailers are working on such a large scale that even a tiny adjustment to their supply chain would have a major impact especially on the consumers. 26% of the H&M’s garments are made from recycled or sustainable materials. But even this small percentage means that H&M and its H&M Conscious Collection is the largest buyer of organic cotton in the world.
The brand also has a recycling service all around the world which provide consumers with bins, whereby customers can hand in their unwanted clothes from any brand that will be transformed into insulation, carpet padding and other garments.
According to ProjectJust, also Zara has a sustainable approach and has launched a sustainable collection: “Join Life”. The company uses 5000 tonnes of organic cotton in its products per year, becoming the world fourth organic cotton consumer. The brand has also collected over 7000 tonnes of garments, according to ProjectJust, which were donated to nonprofit organisations.
Another major mass-retailer is Mango, whose goal is to use 50% of sustainable materials in their collections by 2022, suggested by a press release on their official site in 2017.
The brand has a sustainable collection, called “Mango Committed” made from organic cotton and recycled polyester, manufactured by carefully chosen suppliers.