Susan Maure Clandillon

June 27, 2020

2020 is the year to quit fast fashion, and here’s why

2020 is the year to quit fast fashion, and here’s why

Susan Maure Clandillon

June 27, 2020

We’ve all got a friend (or maybe lots of friends) who lives for Boohoo hauls and are total high street addicts. Without throwing any shade, it’s still hard to understand the motivation when you know they have the funds and body shape that allow them to look for more ethical options (see: privilege). 

If you’re someone who has become aware of the environmental costs of fast fashion then you may be tempted to stage an intervention. An awkward topic, it’s worth thinking through the approach you want to take for maximum success/ minimum rebuffal. We’ve pulled together a list of the best arguments to give even the most hard-line fast fashionistas some pause for thought the next time they look for some retail therapy.

sustainable fashion

1.

Fast fashion is a feminist issue

 A €10 t-shirt from a high street retailer with ‘Feminist’ or ‘Girlboss’ emblazoned on the chest was likely made by an overworked and underpaid woman in unsafe conditions. Really, there is nothing feminist about fast fashion if you think about it.  

Be an ally to all women and choose brands that prioritize worker safety and human rights. And if you really want a slogan tee (but one that’s ethically made and sustainably sourced) then check out Birdsong. You can read the sobering money diary of a young Bangladeshi garment factory worker on Refinery 29.

2.

Quality lasts

Ever wondered why vintage clothes from the 1960s and 1970s still look great on the rails today? The quality of the natural materials used is so much better than the polyester and viscose clothing sold by fast fashion brands today. If you start to look at your clothes more as an investment and spend a bit more on natural fabrics like silk, wool, cotton and linen and learn to care for them, you’ll have them for decades to come! Check out this handy fabric guide to help you in your search.

 

3.

Big brands that prioritize profits over people? No thank you.

When we buy from high street chains, we are choosing to support huge corporations who contribute to the continuation of an incredibly problematic production model. Most high street brands are owned by one of three parent companies;

  • H&M Group (H&M, COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, and ARKET)
  • Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear and Stradivarius)
  • Arcadia (Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop and Wallis)

Faced with COVID-19, these huge multinationals decided to stop paying for their outstanding orders. In March 2020, Bloomberg reported that more than 1,000 garment factories in Bangladesh had orders cancelled, worth roughly USD $1.5 billion. Arcadia group was estimated to have cancelled £100 million worth of orders

While Bangladeshi factory workers are living off rice after two months with no pay, many large fast-fashion brands are more interested in protecting their bottom line. Ethically-speaking, it’s becoming less and less palatable to support these brands.

4.

Taste is greater than trends

A lot of us are guilty of wanting the latest leather leggings, cold shoulder jumpers, puff sleeve mini dresses and print mesh tops. Big retailers target us through social media with influencers we love to flog these ‘must haves’. However, these are the first items that go straight to the charity shop after a few wears once we tire of the trend. And while we’re not suggesting you go full-minimalist capsule wardrobe straight off the bat, it is worth carving out your own style and investing in a mix of classic and vintage pieces to suit your LEWK.

Fashion

5.

Restoring and reshoring Irish fashion

Between 1995 and 2005 the number of people working in the Irish textile industry dropped by 75%. This was a result of manufacturers in Ireland (also in North America and Europe) offshoring production to countries with lower wages. This shift ultimately paved the way for the development of fast fashion as big brands could choose to work with a network of unregulated supply chain companies to produce goods at extremely low cost with little regard for health and safety. For a clear, harrowing picture of why this is such a big problem,  see the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse of 2013 which killed 1,134 garment workers. 

By supporting young Irish designers who produce garments from their studios around the country, you are actively helping to reverse this trend. Find Irish designers near you on the Council of Irish Fashion Designers or visit amazing boutiques like Om Diva in Dublin or on Depop! 

6.

The environmental toll

According to the UN, the fashion industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and shipping combined. On top of this textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally. It takes around 7,570 litres of water to make a typical pair of jeans. It would take even your most hydrated human a staggering seven years to drink that much water!! On top of this, every second one garbage truck of textiles are sent to landfill or burned! So we’re using up the world’s precious resources to produce clothes that are headed for the bin within just months of use. 

So there you have it. There’s at least six powerful reasons why supporting fast fashion is about the lamest thing you can do in 2020. All that’s left to do now is go forth and spread the gospel!