Fashion has been one of the most followed topics for decades. From celebrities posting their trendiest fit on Instagram to Tiktokers sharing their shopping hauls, we have been on the lookout for what’s in season.
With the offset of the digital world, bringing anything trendy on everyone’s phones (and probably on their doorsteps), everyone now has access to a faster fashion.
Prior to the “New” new media age, most consumers would opt to go to physical stores and look for garments or clothes with much higher quality fabric from well-known brands that would last them years. Quality over quantity was a belief that had been rather a belief that we all took to our hearts.
Today’s consumers are quite different. With 88% of consumers in the country opting for fast fashion, most prefer to get alternatives of runway-inspired clothing which usually come in cheaper and with poor quality.
When Fast Fashion Should Slow Down
We really are at an era when being fashionable has always meant getting the newest trend and when the brand name is no longer the major deciding factor. With these two components being a large part of our fashion consumption, the world has evolved and adapted into this specific need in an alarmingly quick pace.
Everyone probably has at least one shopping app installed on their phones, a platform that has been predominantly invaded by the fast fashion industry. Nowadays, it’s easy to spot a shirt that costs around a couple of bucks. Though, to be able to sell them at a fraction of their usual selling price, some brands would have to sacrifice the quality of their materials. Ending up with most consumers needing to buy new clothing often due to the substantial material used to mass-produce these garments.
To add to this, fast fashion is everywhere. Literally, you can go to any mall or physical store or go online to get your dose of fashion needs. Even so, there are only a handful of large brands who are shifting to a more sustainable solution.
Fast fashion, despite its convenience and affordability, has a worse long-term impact other than just feeding up and further driving consumerism.
The environment is the primary casualty of this industry with 21 billion pounds of textile waste going to landfills every year. And thirty percent more is being generated today, than of the total textile waste being generated back in 2017 (that’s in just 5 years)
Fast fashion has also greatly affected the other social concerns of the world including child laborers and underpaid female workers.
Styling & Sustainability
As individuals though, this is where we can put an end to the ever-growing market for fast fashion. What we fail to understand is how powerful our collective choice can be. When we, as consumers ourselves, decided to put an end to things and shifted to more sustainable options and alternatives is when these brands finally realize and start providing a better solution.
Here are some things we can do:
- Create a Capsule Wardrobe – To put it simply, a capsule wardrobe is where you keep your wardrobe minimal and with pieces of clothing that will suit or can be paired with anything in your garment collection. This practices emphasizes quality over quantity. Thus, ensuring that you would not need to buy new clothing pieces every now and then, lessening your clothing waste.
- Check Your Labels – To know more on your clothing, the small label attached to your garment speaks a lot specifically the materials used to manufacture it. Polyester fibers are made from petroleum which is non-renewable and can release micro-plastics when washed. Look for organic cotton or bamboo fibers which are eco-friendly and uses less pesticides. By reading the label, you will also know what’s the best way to care for your garments; ensuring that you can wear your garments for a long time and slow down its deterioration.
- Do Thrifting – Go to your local thrift shop and you can find items that are way cheaper than in malls. You get to use the clothes to their full potential plus help a local business by supporting them. You’d even be surprised by the easter eggs you can find in a vintage shop. Hint: designer brands
- Repair Your Clothes – Your favorite pair of jeans have broken zipper? Check with your seamstress to have it repaired. It costs less than getting a new one. Or you may learn basic sewing for simple repairs like loose buttons.
- Choose Local – While we cannot really stop buying clothes and it is still a necessity, opt to get from local brands or stores. Majority of the garment purchases in the US is actually sourced from China. Thus, supporting local brands does not just help the economy but also help in eliminating at least a part of carbon footprint due to logistics and transportation.
- The 30 Times Test – When you really want to buy a piece of clothing, do this test by Livia Firth of Eco Age. Ask yourself if you’ll wear it at least thirty times. If the answers yes, then you can purchase it. If no, then you must put it back on the rack. Though, you’ll be more than surprised on the number of times you’ve told yourself “no”.
One consumer shifting to sustainable fashion cannot really change or impact the global concerns revolving around fast fashion. But imagine if that one consumer shares their practices with ten other consumers and they all respectively attract others into this shift. Then, a more sustainable fashion can now be readily available to everyone.
On Brands’ Shift to Sustainable Solutions
Now that we’ve shared possible options and alternatives to do the shift, we’d also like to discuss how retailers and brands can also help adjust. After all, to be completely sustainable, brands would also need to produce to this market need.
Fortunately, some global brands are now starting to slowly integrate eco-friendly pieces in their boutiques. Inditex, which owns Zara, has pledged to be 100% sustainable by 2025.
On the other hand, local and small brands can also take part in this initiative. They may start with their production of sustainable pieces, through sourcing fabric that is organic and eco-friendly from suppliers that locally produce (to lessen carbon footprint) and with a better labor environment.
Donna Sikyta, CEO of The Sustainery, understands that these are the aspects of building sustainable brands that we need to bridge. Having worked in the fashion industry for more than 20 years now, she has regrettably seen her fair share of unused textile or fabrics that have been thrown despite being in perfectly good quality. With most of these fabric being put in landfills, Donna looked for solution on how she can close the gap between small business owners who are looking for fabric and suppliers who have extra on their inventory.
Thus, the birth of The Sustainery, a textile online marketplace where manufacturers or suppliers with extra fabrics can connect with designers who need them.
“What we wanted to do was give small companies that are looking for fabric and looking for resources to build their businesses an outlet to purchase unused, perfectly good fabrics.”— Donna Sikyta, CEO
As their brand focuses mainly on sustainability, they also ensure that the textile that you can get from their website also share the same value. Thus, when you get fabric from a supplier through The Sustainery, you can shop at ease knowing that are
- Sustainable Fabric – Unused or overstock fabric can be bought by designers who does not want to take part on the concerns with textile waste. Thus, minimizing the possibility on having good textile be put on landfills.
- Circular Economy – Suppliers and manufacturers on the other hand can repurpose their dead stock or overstock through connecting with designers who may need their fabric.
- Less Carbon Emissions – The Sustainery ships directly the materials from the supplier to the designer. In this way, they get to lessen carbon footprint and simplify the whole fashion supply chain process.
Since its launch in June 2021, Donna is already seeing the possibilities of expanding globally. Currently, their brand focuses on Columbus, being the third-largest hub for retail brands in the United States, they see a lot of opportunities to help small business owners in the state.
Fashion will always be a favored notion to be discussed upon. Style can, well, “never go out of style”. It will always be attached to culture and how one would like to express themselves. Enclothed cognition will be deeply embedded in our mindset and that’s never wrong. Though, with brands like The Sustainery, we can now see better and more environmentally forward brands in the near future, a world where everyone can dress to the nines, including Mother Earth.