Why fast fashion is growing out of fashion

Things are slowing down. The fast paced life we have grown so accustomed to is nearing its end and the “slow life” movement is catching on faster than ever.

From slow-fashion to slow-food, slow-travel and slow-love, the list of slow terms are an ever growing part of our vocabulary and simplicity has become the new luxury. 

There’s no doubt that the events of late 2019 played a part in this global shift of consciousness, with masses moving towards a waste less system and confinement inviting households to take Spring cleaning to a Marie Kondo level. But it turned out a good clear out wasn’t the only thing we needed. The lack of connection with nature and other human beings made us question how we live and where we place our priorities, but most importantly it made us question the system.

The retail and clothing industry received one of the hardest blows in 2020 and shopping habits changed as we challenged our need to consume and started to appreciate the importance of the little things and the local businesses which bring life to our surroundings.

Despite the difficulties that followed the year, we were also blessed with the opportunity to see how the world could change when humanity slows down. 

So, with this worldwide shift in consumerism it is up to us now to decide whether we wish to go back to the old, or, set a new, healthier concept of “normal”… certainly one place to start is with the clothes on our back.

SLOW LIFE = THE END OF FAST FASHION

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Slow fashion is one of the largest facets of the slow life movement and one of the first places people begin their sustainable journeys. Quality-based clothing, sustainable manufacturing practices and timeless designs are all valued with the focus being just as equally on where and what we buy as on why we buy. 

Ultimately it’s about reevaluating our relationship to the clothes we wear and minimising needless, price-based consumption.

So if you’re wondering why fast fashion has its days numbered and you’re ready to get started on your own slow fashion journey, here are 5 eye opening facts about the fashion industry that will make you question its long term viability along with simple solutions to get you started on contributing to a healthier system!

5 FACTS ABOUT THE FAST FASHION INDUSTRY

1. The garment industry is the world’s third biggest manufacturing industry after automotive and technology industries and is responsible for approximately 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (1)

How you can help: Buy less by shopping only what you love and consider quality over quantity. This will save you money in the long run as cheap clothing often doesn’t survive the wash cycle. Every additional year a garment is worn means less pollution.

2. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fibre, which is now one of the most commonly used fibres in clothing. Synthetic textiles including polyester, spandex and nylon can take up to 200 years to decompose. (2)

How you can help: Choose natural biodegradable textiles such as cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, silk or hemp which leave a lighter footprint.

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3. Globally we now consume about 400% more clothing than we were just two decades ago with fashion brands  churning out up to 52 micro-collections per year instead of the usual two seasons (spring/summer, fall/winter). But what’s even more shocking is that as much as we love buying new clothes we seem to equally love not wearing them or disposing of them just as quickly.

How you can help: Buy what you need and love what you buy. Avoid purchasing clothing just because it’s cheap or on sale and think twice about what you are supporting with your purchase. Donate old clothes or find ways to transform them into loveable goods once more.

4. Plastic microfibers shed from washing synthetic clothing have been estimated to comprise up to 35% of primary microplastics in marine environments, threatening coastal and aquatic systems. Evidence shows that these microfibres also spread throughout the food chain. According to one study, the proportional synthetic fibres detected in sediment samples from shorelines across the globe were polyester 56%, acrylic 23%, polypropylene 7%, polyethylene 6% and polyamide 3%. (3)

How you can help: Studies show washing clothes at cooler temperatures and shorter spins can help reduce microplastic release by 30% during washing. (4) Natural fibres also tend to require less washing than their synthetic counterparts as they are breathable and less prone to sweating.

5. The textile industry represents 10-20% of total world pesticide use with over one quarter of the world’s pesticides being used to grow conventional cotton. Conventional cotton production poses significant threats on surrounding rivers and ecosystems, and the massive debts associated with working with GMO seeds has already contributed to over 270,000 farmer suicides in India alone in less than 25 years. (5)

How you can help: Look for sustainable fibres that require little to no pesticide use and choose organic cotton over conventional cotton. Opt for fairtrade options whenever possible as this ensures farmers get paid enough to cover the cost of their labour.

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