Fashion's Laundry List of Problems: Fast Fashion and Over Consumption
This is part 3 of a Crushes series on Fashion's Laundry List of Problems. This is where we are breaking down the industries problems in to three key categories; Waste, Labour and Over Consumption.
Did you know the owner of Zara is one of the richest people in the world? He is worth $70 billion dollars - that's a lot of $14.95 merino crew necks! He made his money by keeping the cost of goods low (and we know who and what pays the price for this) and keeping the speed of production fast. Quantity over quality, right? Unknowingly, as Zara shoppers ourselves, we have made this man rich. We are his patrons and benefactors! Without us, Zara, H&M, Topshop, Boohoo, Forever21, et all, would not be in business.
I know, this can be so guilt-inducing! Stick with me until the end, okay?
Fashions' history is dictated by the limits of technology and media communication. With the industrial revolution, we went from made-to-order / hand-spun fabrics to making sewing machines and ready to wear! You bet your ass the lower class worked in poor conditions for unfair wages. Then came the wars, which warmed the home-sewer to the idea of buying mass produced, standardised clothing. You bet your ass immigrants and young workers worked in unsafe conditions for unfair wages. Then came the swinging 60s, where the youth were rejecting the past and embraced cheaply-made fashion trends which for the first time ever, was changing styles at a very fast rate because of movies/magazines/radio/television. You bet your ass the first world could save money by going off-shore to avoid paying labour and union costs. Developing countries like China invested in textile mills and manufacturing, and here we are - With the 1960s notion of disposable fashion trends, but now with the incredible ability and speed to make Mondays instagram trend, Saturdays ASOS purchase.
Over the last 20 years, the amount of what we buy has doubled. When we get more than what we need, we can quickly throw away what we don't want. We keep these garments for half amount of the time (because they break, or it quickly has become uncool). 85% of what we don't want ends up in landfill.
Here is where I would like to offer an olive branch to you, the consumer: Yes, we have all been apart of this extremely problematic industry, buying $7.50 sweaters from KMart or being enticed by the 2 for 1 sale because it was such a good deal even though we didn't need the second one. But remember, we have been brought up in a capitalist world that has taught us that looks and status are important. Advertising has been used as the tool that unlocks our own self-hate and comparison. As young women, magazines and social media taught us that we can finally be happy with ourselves and loved by others if we change ourselves, and buy their product. You participate in fashion because the industry preys on your vulnerability which benefit their shareholders. Until we realise the cycle that we are born in to, we can reject it.
But our attitudes are changing, albeit slowly. With the minimalist wave of Marie-Kondo, our op-shops are full as we yearn for less clutter. With more talk about conscious consumerism, resell companies are doubling in revenue.
The fashion industry is listening so they don't get left in the dust. There is a world of change to go, but the tide is changing as companies try to become circular and/or sustainable. Large companies are investing in textile research, trying to make their industry and product more circular, recyclable. Other companies are offering life time warranties, so the consumer can bring back their goods for repair. Adidas made a fully recyclable shoe.
We can both agree the fashion industry and our consumer habits are ripe for disruption. Here at Crushes, we believe one can still participate and enjoy fashion with a clean conscience which you can read more about here