Author Joanna Borov Polish born fashion model, front row fashionista, author and fashion entrepreneur based in NYC. She graduated from University of the Arts London. During her career she graced events such as Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and appeared in campaigns of many distinguished designers like Willfredo Gerardo, Glaudi.
“Elegance is elimination.” — Cristóbal Balenciaga
This, and many other famous quotes from fashion creators indicate that we should focus on quality rather that quantity. Fashion is a form of art and should be appreciated, cherished and fulfilling. However, prices of high quality garments are unfortunately still too high for a lot of people and even tho there are a lot of publications about fashion and environment not all the customers are really aware of the problem that has a huge social and environmental impact. Some people think that high prices of garments are always caused by the brand’s image not because of the production costs.
Of course, we are more likely to throw away cheap, trendy clothes than more expensive, timeless pieces.
The question is do we really need to buy so many clothes just to wear them a few times and then dispose because they went out of style and the quality didn’t survive washing and wearing? Although the awareness of the problem grows people still go for fast fashion. This entire fashion model of buying, wearing and quickly discarding clothes negatively impacts people and the planet’s resources.
Just to compare in the 60’ average American family spent more than 10% of total income on clothes and shoes. An average American bought less that 25 garments each year and 95% of the garments were made in the USA. Today, less that 3% of clothes that Americans buy are actually made in the USA. This process was similar in Europe and started in the 70’ when factories in Asia offering cheap labor showed up.
Unfortunately, so called fast fashion industry grows constantly. We consume more, factories produce more, everything is low cost. Bearing in mind that every retailer needs to ear certain amount on each piece, and the manufacturer and the factory’s owner as well, it’s not complicated to get into a conclusion that the costs of producing some pieces are alarmingly low. It means extremely low wages and potentially breaking human rights in the factories. Nobody wants to watch the videos from mass factories in Asia but maybe we should be more aware of what we support when buying super cheap almost one-time use clothes.
The “creative” process of most fast fashion brands means buying samples from other brands, inventing a few small alterations and sending the garment along with the instructions how to alter to avoid stealing accusations. Is it still fashion? Where is the real art, passion and inspiration?
According to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, clothing production has approximately doubled in the last 20 years, driven by a growing middle-class population across the globe and increased per capita sales in developed economies. An expected 400 per cent increase in world GDP by 2050 will mean even greater demand for clothing.
Humankind produces 2.1 billion tons of waste per year. Ellen MacArthur Foundation presented data indicating that 1 garbage truck of clothes are burned or landfilled every second. Besides the sheer bulk of waste in landfills, fast fashion has an impact on the environment through carbon emissions. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions each year, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Thrown away clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can stay in landfills for up to 200 years. Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles!
Fast fashion is a big factor in water pollution as everyday toxic wastewater from textiles factories are dumped directly into the rivers and go to the oceans.
There are many available solutions and we just need to see them. First of all we do not need to own every single trend coming up! Creating our own style should be based on what we like and what we enjoy wearing. Adding some fashionable accents is great but buying the whole new wardrobe just because this season stripes are passee and check is on top again doesn’t make sense! Being an aware consumer also means buying something that we really need or really desire not just impulse buying.
There are also companies that offer renting garments, shoes or handbags! It’s a great option especially for big occasions where gowns or costumes are needed but also for everyday choices. Many celebrities use this option, as they don’t want to be seen wearing the same thing twice.
We can always care for our garments and make them last longer, if needed repair or even alter, change some details.
More and more companies decide to use sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, recycled polyester that is made out of plastic that was in the ocean or biodegradable materials.