What the Heck is Fast Fashion Anyway?
According to Greenpeace, we buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other other European country. By now you would have heard the term fast fashion at least once – but what the flip is it?
Invetopedia describes fast fashion as “the term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to take advantage of trends. The collections are often based on styles presented at Fashion Week runway shows or worn by celebrities. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase the hot new look or the next big thing at an affordable price.”
Advantages of fast fashion
Fast fashion is profitable for manufacturers and retailers while democratising style and fashion for consumers by making it available and affordable to the masses – and all this happens with often fast delivery times.
Prices are often made cheaper by importing: certain things cost less in different places so often components are shipped from various places to a plant where labour is cheap, to be made into one thing, then shipped to where it needs to be.
Then why is it so bad?
On the surface it may look like it’s a win-win for everyone, but on the flip side there’re quite a lot of negatives to get our heads around.
Remember that part about importing making things cheaper? In the UK we have things like minimum wage and the working time directive, which protect workers rights. We have legally required rest breaks at certain intervals. There are some countries that don’t have any of these things. So, the cheap components that make up so much of the fast fashion industry can come with a hidden yet significant human cost. Fast fashion can often use cheap materials, poor workmanship and is often associated with exploitative, abusive labour practices.
It also has a negative environmental impact – around 300k tonnes of used clothes are burned or buried in landfill every year. That’s alarming in itself, but there’s a lot of clothing that’s incinerated that’s never even been sold or worn – this happens when retailers and manufacturers opt to dispose of unsold stock in the most ‘cost-effective’ way possible. It’s even purported that they do it to deliberately close and create ‘new trends’ perpetuating the fast fashion cycle.
Fast fashion also encourages a “throw away” consumer mentality, which is why fast fashion is sometimes called disposable fashion. Helle Abelvik-Lawson writing for Greenpeace says “And this isn’t just a fashion thing – it affects most consumer products from food to furniture, electronics, cars, cosmetics and cleaning products. Producing cheaply and selling for a vast profit is what these companies do. When we’re none the wiser, we happily pay pennies for ‘bargains’ – and unwittingly let the costs to nature, people and the planet mount to breaking point.”
According to the UN environment programme if we don’t change things then by 2050 the fashion industry will use one quarter of the world’s carbon budget.
Holy sh*t. “So, what can I do?” you ask
All this might sound daunting and hopeless – aren’t all the big retailers just out to line their pockets with their big budget ad campaigns compelling us to consume more and more?
The good news is, the cliche is true. You (yes, you!) can change everything.
It boils down to doing a few things a bit differently. They don’t need to be huge changes to your day to day, month to month or year to year shopping habits! Here are some things that YOU can do to do your bit to counter the negative effects of fast fashion:
swapping some shopping trips to the shopping centre or department store, for trips to vintage or charity stores – rummaging for bargains and treasures can be so much fun!
Have clothes swap parties with your friends or check out some local clothes swap events – again, the thrill of not knowing what gems you might find is a huge part of the experience!
buying better quality, less often – purchasing from independent artists and craftspeople is a really good way to do this, and it has the added bonus of giving you a big feel-good boost to support small businesses rather than big corporations.
buying products that are made to order, where things are only made when you order them.
One of the biggest things that we do at Neonimo to stamp out fast fashion is that we make everything to order. We don’t have a warehouse stocked with hundreds of unsold garments and products. Production only starts once an order has been placed. We don’t make anything unless we know that someone wants it.
Neonimo’s manufacturer was specifically chosen to counter the negative effects of fast fashion, too. Everything is made under one roof, in London: not only are you safe in the knowledge that manufacturing staff are treated and paid fairly working in the UK, but that way the printers don’t have to ship to the sewing department to ship to a warehouse, to ship to you, keeping the carbon footprint of manufacturing as low as possible. Offering a range of natural and organic fabrics, as well as making sure textiles are responsibly sourced is of high importance to Neonimo, too. Our manufacturer sources FSC certified material, don’t use water in the printing process, and they use eco-friendly inks. Another important distinction on the Neonimo manufacturing process is that rather than throwing away offcut materials, they are bagged up and offered as fabric remnants to craftspeople, completely free of charge, with only the postage to pay.
Namalee at Neonimo xx
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