TIME FOR A FASHION (R)EVOLUTION
Dhaka, Bangladesh. April 24th 2013. An 8-storey clothing factory collapses. This is regarded as the deadliest garment factory collapse in history. 1,138 workers were found dead in the remains of Rana Plaza. The fault is in the fast fashion brands, who are mainly interested in the quantity of the produced clothes, and not so much in the place and the conditions people there work in. Also, us, the consumers, indirectly contribute to this when buying the fruits of their labor.
Today, campaigns like #WhoMadeMyClothes and movies like “Made in Bangladesh” encourages consumers to ask for greater transparency from brands, and for companies to keep the basic promise that their workers are seen, heard, paid properly and operating in safe conditions. Because, fundamentally, no one should have to suffer for the clothes we wear. Unfortunately, this tragedy is not the only harm fashion has done.
Global textile production is notoriously emissions-intensive. It contributes more to climate change than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. And fashion, with its emphasis on new trends and seasons, is wasteful by design. ‘Fast fashion’ means we over consume and underuse clothes – cheap clothing produced rapidly in response to the latest trends. All of which leads to overconsumption. A great amount of waste is generated, and a lot of low-paid workers have to deal with the awful conditions of their workplaces. At the same time, according to Reuters, Britain, which buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, has seen a boom in “fast fashion”.
According to Greenpeace, at least 8000 chemicals are used to make clothes from raw materials. What is more, 73% of textile threads, used for the making of more than 100 billion clothes yearly, are thrown away. Burberry sparked a furor last year when it admitted that it had destroyed almost $40 million worth of unsold goods, but the company has since promised to stop burning stock. Also, there is a problem when it comes to wearing these clothes as well. When the sneakers or the T-shirt made of polyester (or another artificial fabric) are thrown in the bin, they are hard to recycle and pollute nature just as much as the cotton buds or the plastic bottles.
Major global brands Nike, H&M, Burberry and Gap have signed up to an initiative that aims to improve the industry’s record on sustainability after a study found less than one percent of clothing is recycled. The four brands will join British designer Stella McCartney, who last year became the first to sign up to the initiative, which aims to eliminate waste and pollution and ensure products and materials are reused.
H&M has set a target of only using recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030, he said, and 35 percent of its garments are currently produced that way.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is the result of the love for nature. For its production are used organically produced and recycled materials. From the use of vegan, eco leather, to fabrics made of fruits! Which doesn’t mean that if you like real leather, you will have to stop using it. Simply go vintage shopping for some hidden gems!
The luxury resale website Vestiaire Collective has seen a 558 per cent increase in sales of Fendi Baguettes since January 2018, with the average selling price up 15 per cent. Chanel has also witnessed a significant spike in demand since Karl Lagerfeld's passing in February. Pre-loved luxury site The RealReal said its customers are "gravitating towards tweed jackets and dresses, while handbag demand has increased across staples such as Flap Bags and Boy Bags”.
It’s not only about bags, however. Here is Meghan Markle in a vintage 60s Dior piece. And Bella Hadid in a Louis Vuitton bag from 2003.
Consumers know that the fashion industry harms the planet, so they aim to change their shopping habits. According to Vogue, last year, 64% of women were willing to buy pre-owned pieces compared with 45% in 2016 – and it is thought that by 2028, 13% of the clothes in women’s wardrobes are likely to be secondhand.
Whole New Fibers
The making and the consumption of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk and linen are well-known to the textile industry. Sustainable fashion fans often go for clothes made out of recycled materials like silk, hemp, cotton, as well as more innovative materials like glass!
On the other hand, few people know that with the development of technology fibers from coconut, pineapple, sugar cane, oranges, apple, banana, can be extracted. For the pineapple fabric, for example, they use the leaves of the fruit. The result is a strong, fully recyclable material, which is also affordable. It’s soft, lightweight and easy to take care of.
It’s key to take care not only of ourselves by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Looking after the planet is more than important, too as we witness the major irreversible problems we have caused throughout the centurties. We can all start with baby steps like using a multi-use shopping bag instead of a plastic one. Or why not get a dress made of a recycled pineapple?
1. The collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh
Photo: © Associated Press / Reporters 2. Sewing machine
Photo: © Unsplash.com
3. H&M, Zürich, Switzerland
Photo: © Unsplash.com
4. Green silk
Photo: © Unsplash.com
5. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Photo: © ANDREW LLOYD
6. The new H&M Conscious Exclusive collection
Photo: © H&M Conscious Exclusive
7. Pineapple fabric
Photo: © https://www.fibre2fashion.com
8. Photo: © Unsplash.com
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