Whether you’re a designer, stylist, buyer, blogger or just a fashion aficionado, the month of September holds not only a sacred, but also quite overwhelming and coveted place in our hearts. We follow a never-ending schedule of seasons, shows and soirées that can leave us feeling quite empty once the fabulous month comes to an end. Since fashion week (more like fashion month) madness is in full-swing, I was interested in delving into how the fashion industry handles the issues such as ethics and sustainability – if they do at all.
Having become a more conscious eater, I have started to take an interest in the sourcing and supply of my home goods – from clothes to cleaners, and more. I’ve always had a soft spot for fashion, since the days I first discovered the magnificence that is the House of Chanel. But how can I be so concerned about my diet and not what I wrap myself in?
According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, A Cambridge University study reported in 2006, that people were buying a third more clothes than they were in 2002, while women have reported having four times as many clothes in their wardrobe than they did in 1980. Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly. Despite the dollar amount dropping on the expense of our wardrobes, the number of items continue to grow. Makes you wonder who is truly paying the difference.
Five years ago Slate reported on why H&M destroyed unsold clothes, in short, H&M wanted to avoid their “high quality” goods being sold in discount shops such as T.J. Maxx or Marshall’s. At the expense of labor hours, landfill space and breeching ethics, H&M has destroyed an unimaginable amount of produced textiles even in the last five years. And yet, we don’t bat an eye.
This corrupt psychology of our society has convinced us the “fast fashion” dynamic is the ultimate deciding factor of who has worth. How silly we can be to believe that man-made goods can fill any cracks in our soul. Fashion was not meant to be a manipulating, isolating and air-headed industry we are dealing with today. Fashion was a creative expression of the designer and the seamstress, from sketch to runway it was about creating beauty, edginess and making a statement without saying a word. How can this no-rules, inspired-by-nature industry be so corrupt?
The power of greed and money lead us to the answers of these grim questions. You see, the bottom line is, if it’ll sell, and has limited time to appeal to the masses, it needs to be made with the cheapest materials in the quickest amount of time. The consumer needs to own the item as quickly as possible so they do not realize this purchase, too, hasn’t filled that desperate need to covet. No rules are currently in place to enforce not only fair trade regulations, but also “green” ways to manufacture, create and sell apparel.
What’s a girl to do with a love for Chanel, but concern for my child’s future on this planet we continue to deplete of resources? Consider these tips:
- Buy apparel grown and harvested organically and make sure the brand is Fair Trade certified. Not only are these items luxuriously soft and delicate on sensitive skin, they are grown without the use of harmful pesticides.
- Try making your own clothes from organically produced yarn. Start small, with some socks or gloves. Teach your kids, keep your hands busy, learn a trade that used to be essential to daily life.
- Shop vintage and thrift. There is always new life that can be brought to an old item; it takes a vision and creativity – isn’t that what fashion is truly about?
- Do clothing swaps with friends, family or online forums. Many resources including people and social media are available at the tips of your fingers to help you switch up your wardrobe.
- Give up frivolous shopping. Less is more, people, and when it comes to fashion, like food, you get what you pay for. That $2 camisole may come in handy this week, but next year, will it even be holding its shape? Avoid the trash can or hoarding cheap clothes, invest in a quality wardrobe to save your self money down the line and to save space in our overflowing landfills.
- Get friendly with the term “investment piece.” If you can see yourself getting years, even decades out of an item (shoes, jackets, coats, etc.) then by all means, make the splurge. But keep in mind all my previous tips.
What ideas and tips do you follow to stay fashion-conscious? Share an idea below!