The end of fast fashion
Is fast fashion on its way out?
"I think quality will be increasingly important - we're moving away from a time of fast fashion." Michael Kors
By 'fast fashion', we are referring to the low cost, almost disposable garments which are sold by budget high street brands. These companies have helped to turn clothing into a disposable good, filling land fill sites and polluting the environment. According to Wrap, the waste and resource reduction company, 350,000 tonnes worth of used clothing goes to landfill every year in the UK, which equates to £140m. The organisation also released statistics illustrating that if we extended the life of our clothes by just 3 months before throwing them out, we could cut down on our water, carbon and waste footprints by 5-10%. Plus, a huge 30% of clothing in our wardrobes has not been worn for a year, even though we continue to purchase more.
Very cheap and fast fashion is readily available, however while this is good news for our bank accounts and materialist consumer needs, it does pose a hidden threat. The production of most clothing is damaging to the environment due to the polluting pesticides and dyes used. The production of fast cheap fashion also poses huge ethical issues. Cheap labour in terrible working conditions mean that brands can generate high profits while charging consumers crazily low prices. It is literally too good to be true.
While we pay very little money, it is the workers who pay in terms of their appalling standard of living, and even their lives. The 2013 tragedy at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh is an awful example of this. The working conditions in this clothing factory were so bad that the building collapsed, killing 1,129 people. When cracks appeared in the walls the day before, the workers in the banks and shops that shared the building with the factory were evacuated, however the factory owners ordered their workers to return to the building. It is the deadliest garment factory tragedy in history and was the site of the production of many brands such as Primark. Child labour exploitation is also a very real scene in the fast fashion garment industry, with child labour denying 168 million children worldwide their right to education, a healthy life, and crucially their childhood.
So is fast fashion a thing of the past?
Sadly not yet. There is a long way to go, but the consumer has the power to change it. There are a number of ethical and organic clothing brands which have sprung up in recent years so there are alternatives to non-ethical high street brands. Ethically produced clothing can still be affordable and stylish, however we need to accept paying slightly higher prices than the budget brands. By buying these good quality clothes for a fair price tag, you'll be able to keep them for longer, saving you money in the long run as well as helping to transform the ethical and environmental evils of the clothing industry.
North South Apparel create stylish and affordable clothes with a moral conscience. Our garments are made from recycled or sustainable materials, while guaranteed to have been produced in a fair and safe working environment.
Ethical. Sustainable. Wearable.