Quality Not Quantity
Why we need to slow fashion down
I have a beautiful, long woollen coat that I love. Not for the fact it is timeless, or that after 75 years it still draws compliments. I love it because of its story, its tribute, the fact it is a family heirloom. And for the fact that it will never end up in landfill.
You see, this coat was made with love, given with love and worn with love.
It was a gift given to my Grandma by my Grandpa, who was a wheat and sheep farmer. With considered care for his sheep he created beautiful wool. He promised my Grandma, that if he could produce a certain number of wool bales (insert an audacious number) he would have a beautiful woolen floor-length coat handmade for her. I guess a sheep farmer’s take on diamonds and Champagne!
Goal achieved, coat was made! My grandma loved it, and then gave to my mum, who loved it, and then it was given to me and I love it. I wear it very different to how my Grandma wore it back in the 40’s, yet it still makes a statement and a creates a flood of memories whenever I put it on. So much love.
Unfortunately, over the years, fashion has become less about the timeless pieces and more about the total profits. Rather than a wardrobe filled with classic pieces we love, it’s bursting with cheap clothes that are good for a season. Fashion has become fast… and cheap!
But this ‘cheap’ fashion comes at a high cost.
Fast fashion retailers have made their name by giving us a chance to buy cheaply made pieces that look like designer clothes for next to nothing. But their sales techniques are having a drastic impact on consumer behaviour around the world. In particular, it changes our perception of the lifespan of the garments we buy, and tries to convince us that outfit repeating is a faux pas, even when deep down we know it’s a sustainability must do.
The fast fashion model – which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption, and short-lived garment use, is fuelling environmental destruction and must be discarded, argues Kirsi Niinimäki, a professor of design at Finland’s Aalto University, in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.
“By 2030, it is estimated the fashion industry will consume resources equivalent to two Earths, with the demand for clothing forecast to increase by 63 per cent. In Australia, 6000 kilograms of cheap, disposable and mass-produced ‘fast fashion’ items are dumped in landfill every 10 minutes,”says Niinimäki.
By thinking of the garments we wear as short term look rather than long term investments, we contribute to wasteful consumption patterns that inevitably lead us towards drastic climate change.
In contrast to fast fashion, there is a Slow fashion push. Slow fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion that considers the processes and resources required to make clothing. It advocates buying better-quality garments that will last longer and values fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet.
This is vital in reducing your fashion footprint, with thousands of tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill every single day. Not only will you reap the benefits of the savings you will accrue and the space you will create, but a big bonus is the decision fatigue you will avoid with what shall I wear?
Next time you’re trawling the internet and get tempted to ‘click here’ on a bargain, ask yourself two things:
- Do I really need it? And if you answer ‘yes’…
- Dig really deep and get curious, do you really want to pay that price? Not just you directly, but the price to your planet?
It’s 2021, we need to normalise rewearing outfits and invest in quality pieces!
REDUCING YOUR FASHION FOOTPRINT
While ever you support the fast fashion world, you are creating a demand. Yes, there is a need for substantial changes in the industry, including deceleration of manufacturing and introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain. However, while we wait for these laws to be passed and implemented, you can do your bit by trying the following:
1) Practice the Five R’s of Fashion: Reduce, Rewear, Recycle, Repair and Resell
- Reduce your consumption. Easy!
- Get clever and creative and find ways to rewear and revamp your favourite pieces
- If you’ve grown out of clothes or worn to their capacity, give away or repurpose. Turn old jeans into denim shorts, for example.
- If you have a favourite item, but it needs the hem redone or buttons sown on – repair it and wear it
- And if you bought something in haste and now don’t want, resell it.
2) Support the brands who are doing the right thing
Australia has some wonderful fashion labels who have paved the way for other brands across the world to follow suit.
For a list of the brands in Australia and New Zealand who support an ethical and sustainable ethos go here. Do your own research as well, as this list is by no means complete.
3) Build a Capsule Wardrobe
This is about choosing a logical selection of clothes that you not only love to wear, but is also practical, versatile and allows you to express your fashion sense. In true Maria Kondo style, begin the process by pulling everything out of your wardrobe and take stock. Before you put items back in, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I worn it in the last year?
- Does it fit my day-to-day lifestyle?
- Does it go with my other clothing?
- Do I LOVE it?
This will help you make decisions about what should stay and what can go. The content of your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on the season and your individual style. But importantly, you want to have a balance of tops, bottoms, layers, and accessories. Neutral colours that pair well are also key. For the clothes that don’t make it back into the wardrobe, implement the 5 R’s especially recycle and resell.
INVEST IN BEAUTIFUL PIECES THAT LAST A LIFETIME
If there is one thing we know about fashion, history seems to repeat. And today’s fashion is often inspired by eras gone by. And while we know if we wore it on the first lap, we shouldn’t wear it on the second, but if it’s a classic piece, it will stand the test of time.. like my Grandma’s long woollen coat.
One brand I have stumbled across is West 14th (showcased). Aside from its relatable philosophy, when you put the clothes, it is like receiving a beautiful warm hug from your bestie.
Inspired in New York City. Designed in Bondi Beach, Australia. We have engineered unbelievably soft leather essentials to last a lifetime since 2012. Our philosophy is to design and craft forever wardrobe staples, shared with your girlfriends and inherited by your daughters. We create modern heirlooms in small batches for the women with a slow fashion wardrobe.
Buy once, buy well!
NAME, SHAME AND DON’T GO NEAR
The companies holding the largest market share in the Fast Fashion in Australia industry include:
- Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd
- Group Zara Australia Pty Limited,
- Uniqlo Australia Pty Ltd
- H&M Hennes & Mauritz Pty Limited
- Fast Future Brands Pty Ltd
Resources like Good On You provide a perfect launch pad for accessing garments that will serve you for longer, while trusting they are sourced responsibly and not harmful to the planet, people, or animals.
Time to make fast Fashion unfashionable!
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