Fast Fashion refers to a phenomenon in the fashion industry whereby production processes are expedited in order to get new trends to the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. As a result of this trend, the tradition of introducing new fashion lines on a seasonal basis is being challenged. Today, it is not uncommon for fast-fashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in a single week. Read more at Investopedia.
Trends every week? Wow! I see it in the stores and on people out and about, but it’s not something I relate to. I know I’m influenced by trends I mostly crave classic items that will stand the test of time. I wasn’t always this way though.
Ignoring the Reality of Fashion Manufacturing
I’ve been pairing down my wardrobe for a few years now, but I’ve not given nearly enough thought to the ethics of clothing manufacturing. I certainly haven’t taken significant action. I could use my low income as an excuse, but the truth is for a long time I shopped impulsively for emotional reasons (and more than anything I have the credit card balance to show for it). I would have cognitive dissonance about the backstory to my clothes. I still have many regrets about this (thank you, my weird guilty conscience that says I’m the reason for all of the world’s suffering), but I’m happy to report that I’m now much more mindful of the reality of fashion and I’m taking concrete action to buy more ethically and sustainable made clothes from now on.
I certainly have been aware for many years of the horrible working conditions in clothing manufacturing. I remember having an argument with a friend about it some 20 years ago. We used words like sweatshops and labour conditions. I was feeling very anxious and guilty about the low wages and dangerous working conditions. I felt my quality of life here in the West was due to the suffering of others. I felt awful and wanted to find alternatives. She argued that the wages in other countries reflected their cost of living and that stores like Gap and brands like Nike were improving things. Neither of us would budge in our opinions and we never talked about it again.
Afterwards, I did seek out more locally made and recycled fashion and more environmentally friendly fabrics, but I felt pretty limited in my options. I also was at the height of my shopping as emotional remedy situation. It took therapy to stop that harmful coping mechanism (among others).
Fast Forward To Now
I finally have much healthier emotional strategies and it turns out this bit of good health for me also spreads to garment manufacturing workers, the planet and my pocket book. I say pocket book because my new frame of mind has me opting out of fast fashion. I haven’t bought much in the past few years. Definitely no impulse clothing purchases. Everything I now own is due to careful consideration. Well, in terms of a minimalist wardrobe numbers-wise. In terms of ethically sourced and made fashion, I have a lot of room for improvement and any new purchases will take THAT into consideration.
Yes, the time for change is now. So what will I be doing? I have decided to only purchase used clothing when it comes to blouses, sweaters, pants, skirts and dresses. When it comes to socks and underwear I will only purchase those that are ethically and sustainably made. I see no need for shoes in my immediate future. What I have is sufficient for a few years at least. Same thing for winter coats. I will need new winter boots though. I need them to be very durable, waterproof, and warm while also meeting my criteria for ethics and vegan materials. If you have any suggestions, please do mention them in the comments.
So that is where I stand TODAY on fast fashion and the ethics and sustainability of clothing manufacturing. I will be building my Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe soon. I will keep you posted on my thrift store finds for the few items I am missing or need to be replaced. Check out my Instagram for updates!
A Few Inspirations
Verena Erin of My Green Closet – Erin believes in ‘buy less, buy better” and makes YouTube videos about sustainable fashion, capsule wardrobes, natural beauty, and simplifying. I’ve watched her playlist on How To Shop for Ethical and Sustainable Fashion a few times!
Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea Leaves – I just adore how Erin curates her life in a small apartment in a big city. Her photos and text are beautiful, inspirational and relatable. Lots of good info on sustainably made (in North America) clothing and about sustainable minimalist living in general.
And I must mention my sister – She is a fantastic dressmaker (she has a made a few of my burlesque costumes) and has decided that the best way she can make an impact is by making most of her clothing (and that of her children) herself. While my idea of sewing is safety pins and a glue gun, she does inspire me to do better in my own way, with my own skills and abilities, and the resources I have at my disposal – thrift stores and meticulous care of what I already own (steam, baby, steam)!!!