Fast Fashion – Has the Pandemic Helped Slow Fashion Down?
2nd June 2020
In a week where Gucci has slashed the number of fashion shows held each year from five to two, it’s creative director Alessandro Michele has stated that clothes should have a longer life than the season attributed to them.
The regular series of international fashion shows has been stopped in its tracks by the coronavirus pandemic with summer shows cancelled and September fashion weeks in doubt. That, coupled with new research which outlines the rising concern at fast fashion within Generation Z, could mean that this has accelerated the growth in interest in sustainable fashion. The sustainable (or slow) fashion movement has been bubbling for several years now. With current social restrictions, many have reduced spending and curtailed shopping. Instead they are reaching into the once neglected corners of their wardrobes to discover that they have lots of unworn clothes there already.
In recent years, fast fashion has flooded the global markets both in stores and online. It’s about making fashion trends quickly and inexpensively and has the attitude of “pile it high and sell it cheaply!” We have been encouraged to buy continuously throughout the year whether we need to or not. The result is a buy-dispose cycle which is permeating the entire apparel industry with adverse consequences for workers.
•The average person consumes 26.7kg of new clothing per year (about the size of a large suitcase).
•We only actively wear about 20% of our clothes
•We are buying 400 per cent more clothes than we did 20 years ago.
•235m items of clothing were sent to landfill last year.
•Global textile production produces 1.2bn tonnes of carbon emissions a year – this is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined
•700,000 fibres are released in a single domestic wash. These end up in our water system and food chain.
•3,781 litres of water are used in the full lifetime a single pair of jeans.
There is a lot more information available on this topic, but one thing is clear, anyone researching in this area is definite that fast fashion is having a major impact on our environment and is contributing to the destruction of our planet. As Michele said’ “Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty.”
We have one body and seven days in the week to wear our clothes. We often make purchasing decisions based on:•
•Our desire to look like the model/friend/celebrity/influencer
•Hope for a not-yet-confirmed future event
•Hope for a not-yet-gained “perfect” body
We can change our behaviour. If we don’t buy it they won’t make it! What do we need to do?
In modern society, rightly or wrongly, the way we present ourselves has a major impact on how we feel, how we are perceived and treated by others and as a consequence, our earning potential.
At House of Colour I have always encouraged my clients to buy fewer items of clothing and to limit spend on fast fashions. I also teach my clients how to create a capsule wardrobe which I define as “the minimum number of items to create the maximum number of outfits”. In other words, buy less but still have a wardrobe that works for their lifestyle and makes them feel great. Understanding your style, based on your individual body shape, your individual body proportions and your individual personality is the only way you can have items that work season after season and year after year.
Here are some things that we can all do now.
•Understand the clothes which work best for you – honour your body shape, your body proportions and your personality giving you a style which will work for you regardless of what fashion is doing. Don’t sabotage by wearing ‘other people’s clothes’.
•Make the most of what you already have– go “shopping” in your own wardrobe. Create outfits you have not put together before, change the accessories you always wear with those items and you instantly have a new look without actually buying something new. Dye clothes that are not within your colour palette.
•Don’t repeat buy items you already have– how many pairs of trousers (or any other item) in the same colour do you actually need? It’s an easy rut to get into. Instead, consider making alterations to bring something back on trend and have more of a “make do and mend” attitude. For example, have one of those pairs of trousers altered to tapering ankle skimmers – bang on trend and for little cost (to you or the environment).
•Remove items from your wardrobe you will definitely no longer use– and let someone else make use of them. Nothing should be living rent free in your wardrobe. Do not create landfill. Donate items to charity shops, sell through dress agencies or online resale sites. It will stop someone else buying something new!
•Consider where you are making purchases– look out for vintage and pre-loved items. Go to the charity shops, online resale sites and rental agencies. Be the person who bought or rented one of these items instead of buying something new.
•Buy higher end than the fast fashion retailers– they typically (but not always, so do your research) have better ethics in terms of their supply chains. Buy cheap and generally someone else pays. These items will typically look good and last for longer too.
•Think about cost per wear– the actual cost or value of an item is not the purchase price, but that over the number of times you are going to wear it. Shopping at the lower poor-quality end of the high street leads to poor cost per wear since items quickly look shabby and can no longer be worn. Shop at the designer end of the market and you’ll have to wear something every day for the rest of your life to get great cost per wear. Aim in the middle – higher end high street usually strikes the right balance. When you know they right styles and colours for you, this is completely achievable.
•Buy timeless clothing– there are some items of clothing we wear whatever is going on with high street fashions. These are the things that you could purchase 20 years ago, can still do so now and will probably be able to purchase in 20 years time. Good examples include; knitwear, classic button cardigans, court shoes, a winter coat, a trench coat or mac. You can buy these items knowing they will give you great cost per wear because they just don’t date.
•Don’t hobby-shop– by all means go shopping with your friends and have a great time doing so but don’t feel the need to actually buy something. It takes your “sensible head” to create a great wardrobe that really works for you, after all, you wouldn’t shop for carpets and furniture in this way, yet most of us spend more money on clothes than any of these things.
•Create a capsule wardrobe– capsule wardrobes are more environmentally friendly because they enable you to buy fewer, higher end items that last you longer. The individual items are versatile because they mix and match with other items giving you lots of possible outfits and looks and therefore at great cost per wear.
At House of Colour, I am committed to help you create a perfect capsule wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle and still makes you feel great. It will also save you money, because you buy less which means you also store less in your wardrobe – your bedroom does not need to look like a warehouse or jumble sale!
Maria Macklin is an Image Consultant, Colour Consultant, Colour Analysis, Personal Style Advice, Personal Shopper, Personal Brand Coach, Wedding Style Consultant for House of Colour, Ireland.