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The Rise of Slow Fashion - Creating a World of Sustainable Manufacturing

Exposing the World of Fast Fashion 2

As more people learn about the high cost of fast fashion, a revolution is taking place. We are learning now that with every purchase of a fashion item, much more than just the price is at stake – the lives of real people, and the welfare of our environment, are on the line. 

More people are taking notice of the antecedents of fashion brands and are willing to hold their favorite brands accountable. We are starting to ask the hard questions – must my affordable pair of yoga pants really come at the cost of someone being able to afford a living wage? 

There is a growing recognition that unethical practices must stop. And this is starting with a conscious effort by consumers to ensure their spending habits align with what they believe is fair and humane. This is creating a new movement and leading to a new world of fashion that will be the death of fast fashion. 

The death of fast fashion 

Unlike before, it is now next to impossible for companies to act shamefully without being discovered. These days, it only takes a 15-second Tik Tok video or a 160-character tweet to bring the atrocities of these companies to millions of people worldwide.

Conscientious journalists and filmmakers are also beginning to document the unethical practices of large corporations, making sure they are answerable for their behavior and giving them no place to hide. 

For instance, the #PayUp petition was launched by Remake on March 30, 2020 to demand that big brands pay for in-production orders they cancelled after the outbreak of COVID-19. The petition relies on credible reports gathered from suppliers from all over the world, including places like Bangladesh, where people are also facing the brunt of the pandemic. 

Many of the reports indicate that some of the largest fashion brands have essentially thrown their suppliers under the bus. But with the help of the petition, these brands, which include Nike, Adidas, Zara, H&M and Ralph Lauren, are being forced to pay. 

Other investigative reports have exposed links between high fashion brands and forced labor in Chinese detention camps. A report by French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), indicates that major French brand, Lacoste, was the latest in a long line of fashion brands allied to forced labor. The brand’s hand-sewn gloves were being made in a Chinese internment camp in the now infamous Xinjiang area. 

Sadly, the dime doesn’t drop with Lacoste. Other large brands such as H&M, Gap and Adidas were similarly exposed in 2019. Also, in 2018, North Carolina-based Badger Sportswear was linked to ethnic Uighur internment camps on the Chinese mainland. 

The days when brands could claim ignorance or hide under the “long, often opaque supply chains” that feed their production lines are long gone. Now, fashion brands must step up and play their part in achieving a sustainable fashion industry. 

Transparent and sustainable manufacturing 

Transparency is vital to ending modern slavery and environmental degradation in the fashion industry. If we are to rid ourselves of fast fashion and all its evils, there must be a commitment to respect ethical practices in every aspect of the manufacturing process. 

Transparency means being entirely upfront with every aspect of how fashion items are sourced and produced. Brands must make the effort to keep fashion clean from the terrible inequity that affects millions of workers every day. And they must be willing to share how they are making this commitment in every area of the process. 

With more transparent practices, we can begin a new era of sustainable manufacturing in an ethical fashion industry. Here are some ways that fashion can become more transparent and sustainable: 

  • We must review our manufacturing process to eliminate harmful and unethical practices. Choosing bio-degradable materials and reducing the use of toxic materials are a good start. 
  • Brands must take responsibility for the waste they create during the process. It is even better to commit towards a waste-free process. 
  • Workers should be paid a living wage, not a minimum wage. They should also be entitled to humane work environments where they are treated as the important stakeholders they are in the fashion industry. 
  • We must share the process of how fashion items are made, what they are made from and every other detail that can help educate people on how brands are pursuing sustainable manufacturing. 
  • We must also explain our prices so people can be aware of the cost of sustainable and ethical fashion. 

Although there has traditionally been some concern that sustainable manufacturing is unprofitable, that narrative is changing today. People expect more from the brands they support, and as Nielsen reports, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. 

As early as 2015, the global performance management company reported that 66% of global consumers will pay more for sustainable brands. The poll, which included 30,000 consumers from 60 countries, also indicated that 73% of millennials (people aged 21 to 36) are willing to pay extra for sustainable products. 

Although one might think this is a sentiment only expressed by those with the funds to spare, the study finds differently. Those earning $20,000 or less were actually 5% more likely to make this commitment than those earning higher. In addition, the overall rates were even more favorable in developing economies, compared to developed economies. 

This shows there’s really no excuse not to transition to more sustainable models of fashion production. So, it’s time to tap those Gucci brakes a bit, and indulge in some “slow fashion” for a change. 

Fast fashion is out of style – It’s time for slow fashion 

Slow fashion, as the name sounds, is the direct opposite of fast fashion. Instead of hurtling headlong along a crowded lane of dopamine-filled shopping trips fueled by a fast fashion industry doling out Escobar-esque fixes, we should take a more measured approach to our fashion tastes instead. 

The slow fashion movement holds that clothes are meant to be worn, and worn well. They aren’t meant to only line our closets with the latest styles that we croon over in March but abandon by September. 

We should no longer change our fashion collections every season or every year. In fact, we should keep fashion collections for longer, at least 4 years. This way, people feel less like they are out of fashion and they are not forced to change their style or renew their wardrobe every season. 

The pressure to always keep up with the season, and the “high” we derive from being in vogue, are actually harmful – both financially and psychologically. This pressure is most common in women’s fashion and is problematic because it never makes us feel good enough. 

Fashion brands must own their share of the blame and correct their wrongs by encouraging more sustainable practices. Colors can be sold in pastel or darker tones – both of which can be easily matched for every season. 

Garments should be made from high quality, sustainable materials, preferably from locally sourced suppliers. Brands should release very few, and specific, styles per fashion collection, which are released a maximum of two to three times per year. 

The goal is to tame the monster we have created and gradually rehabilitate the fashion industry to become more sustainable and transparent for all of us. 

At Joséfa David, we have made a commitment to be responsible, pursue sustainable practices, and look after our own. More than just providing you with gorgeous pieces made with loving skill, we want to do our part in creating a sustainable fashion industry. 

Our items are made by hand, and only from natural and ethically-sourced fabrics that are renewable, carbon-neutral and biodegradable. We use only digital printing because it is less toxic, consumes less water and produces less waste. Most importantly, our items are entirely unique (created by Joséfa herself) and entirely produced locally. 

If, like us, you’re looking for a change and want to get off the fast fashion lane, we invite you to try out our pieces. Or delve a bit deeper to learn more about how we are leading the charge to a sustainable fashion world. 

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