You have an important role to play in the struggle for a new fashion era.
The global fashion industry generates $2.5 trillion a year. Sadly, much of that volume comes from 'fast fashion'—the practice of selling cheap, poorly-made clothes and accessories that quickly end up in landfills.
Such disposability has been a defining characteristic of commerce since the mid-1900's. That's when mass-production became more efficient and businesses realized that people were more likely to spend a small amount of money repeatedly for a product, rather than a large sum up front. And while this practice put products in the hands of millions of people who previously couldn't afford them, it also diminished the quality of goods and created a crisis of waste and pollution.
In the fashion industry, this trend sped up even more over the last twenty years as technology shrunk production times and outsourcing to Asia dramatically lowered costs.
Times, however, are changing.
More and more companies are now being built on an ethos of sustainability and ethical practices, not just numbers. Consumers, meanwhile, are increasingly making choices based on those values.
Welcome to the fashion revolution!
In 2007 Kate Fletcher, a professor of sustainability, design, and fashion at the London College of Fashion, coined the term 'Slow Fashion' in an article for the online publication Ecologist. Inspired by the 'Slow Food' movement, which links pleasure and food with awareness and responsibility, she envisioned a new, similar movement within the fashion industry.
Fletcher argued that short production times and cheap clothes are only made possible by the exploitation of labor and natural resources. She proposed designing "a different system for ourselves that makes money while respecting the rights of workers and the environment, and produces beautiful and conscientious garments."
Of course, as in the 'Slow Food' movement, consumers have a role to play to help foster the kind of sustainable, slow fashion that Fletcher advocates.
Here are a few ways to do your part:
1. Avoid emotional and boredom shopping. We're already producing and consuming beyond the planet's capacity to renew itself. Before making any purchase, ask yourself these questions: Do I really need to buy it? Will it perish in my closet after two uses? Would it be better to rent? The less you buy, the less you'll waste.
2. Read labels to see where your clothes come from. Were they manufactured under decent conditions (check for online reports)? Are they made of natural or synthetic fabrics? Does the manufacturer certify they're free of toxins? Look for quality garments that will last longer and were made by brands that value fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet.
3. Take care of your garments and accessories. Mend and customize them to extend their useful life. Labor, water, energy, and raw materials were used to create them. Don't squander those resources by sending your items to a landfill.
4. If you do get rid of clothes, do it responsibly. If they're in good condition, donate, exchange, or sell them. If they're deteriorated, try to repurpose them or send them to a recycler. Use Earth 911's Recycling Locator to find a facility near you.
5. Buy from sustainable small fashion companies. While big brands have a responsibility to reduce their environmental impact, small brands typically have the flexibility to implement new processes quickly. Consequently, it's smaller, independent fashion companies that often spearhead changes the wider industry eventually adopts. Buying leather goods, like handbags for women, from these small companies is a great way to help advance ‘slow fashion' practices.
At Nantív, we strive to create handbags that surpass traditional brands in quality and innovation. Each one is handcrafted by the best Italian artisans, using the softest leather and highest quality hardware, and is designed to last a lifetime.
Most importantly, our bags are born of our passion and principles for sustainability. That means working only with top-rated tanneries that humanely raise cattle and minimize waste and water consumption.
We're moving forward by moving slow.
Love & Flow,