The tides are turning albeit slowly.
More and more wo/men globally are thinking about where does their fashion come from and more importantly where does it end up when we are finished with it. We want to know more about the lifecyle of our fashion. Mostly...
Where Some Of Our Fast Fashion Rejects End Up
Some of our fashion ends up in 3rd world countries where a whole new cycle to the fashion pieces we get rid of come to life. Africa had a great recycling fashion industry going on from 2nd hand clothes coming from western nations but due to the effects of an attempted ban on importing 2nd hand clothes in order to support their own textile industry, there has been a shift in this landscape. What they didn't plan on in this decision is the inability to handle the new demand for textile and the fact that this decision hurts the low-income earners who can't afford new clothes. Sales for 2nd hand fashion has slowed due to an increase of taxes on imported fashion which then has a ripple on effect on tailors and dressmakers who made their living from adjusting and combining 2nd hand clothes.
There is a key point in all of this though and that is the lifespan of a piece of clothing. If it is made with poor fabric or synthetics that pill and lose their lustre, the colour washes out, the fabric loses its shape, the sewing is poor quality, then there is no saving that piece of fast fashion.
France is leading the charge though in making Fashion houses responsible for the end of life of their designs. Other French initiatives are trying to limit the amount of different sorts of fibers that fashion producers may place on the French market. Complexity is the enemy of all recycling schemes. Huffington, Sept, 2019.
The Dark Side.
This isn't just to highstreet and designer fashion but they make up a large contingent of the cause and effects of this side. Their ethos; if we can't sell it, we burn it or dispose of it in a way that will not saturate the market and keep the tension of demand for our products.
What made me sit up and notice this habit in the fashion industry is due an article about H&M at the beginning of 2018 where H&M burnt 14 tonnes of unsellable high street fashion which they validated by saying, they were 'substituting coal' by burning the unsellable high street fashion. The burning was not just from unsellable clothes but also from "products that have failed certain chemical safety tests" combined with poor inventory management as they didn't factor in the growth in online sales. NYTimes, March 2018
But they are not alone, Burberry would rather burn their unsold stock rather than discount it, theirs is about status, this is a common practice in high end fashion including watches and other accessories. Burberry in 2018 took $38million worth of fashion and had it incinerated, "there is a terror of what discounting would do to prestige". #burnberry
Sadly, Nike has been known to tear or slice their products before dumping them so that they can not be worn once disposed of. That was a little disappointing as their awareness of their market is remarkable, I understand that there needs to be a persona to their brand and that keep that by the way they manage not only their marketing but also their waste, hopefully they will change this habit, but only if we ask and keep an eye on them.
The demand to meet budgets, KPI's, keep the brand persona to match with the aspirational element they are using as the foundation of their marketing strategy means it comes down to us to not buy into it without knowing their lifecycle management of their excess products. I get it, that's hard when they inspire us with their marketing, our kids wear them because there is peer pressure, then it comes down to the real basics, they make great shoes for those with normal and narrow feet. New Balance has the market for wide footed athletes.
What is the solution?
I don't think it is just one thing, but I think we have a key role to play in the solution.
Recycling and upcycling are not going to stem the overproduction of fashion. "Anybody who thinks we can miraculously scale up fashion recycling to counteract overproduction is verging on the delusional." Huffington Post Sept, 2018 We are buying up to 60% more clothes in 2018 than we did in 2000 = demand. Supply = making sure we know the brands we are buying from are really being sustainable. This can be for two reasons, new clothes = cheap = more often we can treat ourselves.
But if we educate ourselves on the designs that suit our body type, how to curate a smart wardrobe and whether we learn about sewing so we can either make our own staples/clothes, through this we also learn how to pick poorly made garments, and poor quality fabrics and then are able to purchase our fashion/fabrics wisely.
The power of the supply and demand chain will create a change. Being sustainable by upcycling, making better choices when it comes to our wardrobe and fashion habits all of this will have an impact on how the fashion industry will respond to our buying habits. When we act like the many in a group with the same vision then we turn the tides on sustainability when it comes to our wardrobe. It can be fun and adventurous, no guilt required.
Declutter Your Wardrobe;
First Start with sorting your wardrobe and that is by going through your designs and make outfits of your pieces in your wardrobe
A good way to do this is by following Marie Kondo in her folding method to organise your wardrobe and before you go shopping, because when you know what you need you buy less.
Here is a short cut to all the folding lessons from Mario Kondo with KonMari Method.
Now what this is going to create is an influx of good clothes into Op shops as more and more people get involved in this trend and knowing how to sew so you can buy pieces that almost fit, could fit or need shortening could actually save you money through your year if you are using the #nothingnew challenge.
Styling What You Already Have In Your Wardrobe
You may not think that you are creative enough to do this, but you are. You already know what your assets are so start with that. Go through your wardrobe and pick out the designs and start putting together new outfits from those pieces that look killer on you.
Don't rush this, take time with it, plan to do it on a Sunday or Wednesday Night as a way to uplift the middle of your week.
Then once you have figured out your outfits, hang them in the wardrobe on the same hanger and if there are a few skirts/pants that go with that top, put them together, next to each other if that's all that is possible, so when you are getting ready for your;
Days. Then you know exactly which one to go for. And from this level of preparation you are going to identify 2 things.
1. What gaps are in your wardrobe and make a list so you can either make or look for in the opp shops.
2. How little you really need to have a KILLER wardrobe.
The main reason we buy so much is because we don't know what we already have or we aren't quite sure what suits our bodytype and our assets.
Check out our blog on How To Dress To Your Assets.
People to check out to compliment WeMadeIt.
Wonder Wardrobe = learn how to select fabrics, colours and designs that suit you. Yet to go through this but will do and do a review of that in the coming months.
Designs who practice lifecycle management to their designs are;
Patagonia - Outdoor/bushwalking clothing label. Long story but I love them because of Kimmy Swimmy. great brand story and ethics.
Know more that we can add to this list, let us know in the comments below and we will add them to this post.