"Wow, cheap and chic!" “Oh my god, I just can’t believe it’s $29.99!” “That’s designer, but like you can totally get the same thing from (insert chain store of your choice that duplicates every single runway look and exploits creative, intelligent and hardworking designers for their own portion of greed and revenue.)” Hey, it’s Sustainability Shrimp, the side of me that's awkwardly navigating myself through a world of rubbish - lets’ quit the trash talking and get into sexy sustainability (wink, wink).
Fast Fashion is a lot like fast food. It's cheap, greasy, terrible for us and we want it really, really bad. I'm no saint, I can easily sit and oggle and boggle my eyes at some fabrication that turns me on quicker than a ten pack nuggets on a Saturday night but, much like the nuggets, the repercussions of the cheap buy action just probably isn't worth it. I mean, was that knock off Gucci going to save the planet? No, but it might just ruin it.
But why so competitive? We all want what we can't have, and it's all because of the human nature of large corporations that we all reluctantly turn to this cycle of greed. Fast Fashion focuses on creating product at the lowest possible cost at the fastest pace in order to hold the highest mark up, without taking repercussions of it's people and the earth into account.
Since the latest release of ethical store results (if you don't know, now you know), It's been a flame fuelled topic of conversation as we decipher and applaud some stores for their efforts (here's not looking at you Trelise Cooper, shame on you and your team - the re-useable supermarket bags just aren't going to cut it.)
If you're out of the loop on the system, here's a short insight for ethical newbies -
"The grades awarded by the Ethical Fashion Report are a measure of the efforts undertaken by each company to mitigate the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains. Higher grades are given to companies with labour rights management systems that, if implemented well, should reduce the extent of worker exploitation."
What we need to remember is that this chart still doesn't cut it. When it comes to ethical grading these stores are only judged on the basis of what working environments their staff are in,and as important as that is - it's still not acknowledging the BIGGER picture. Chemicals, disposal of dead stock product and materials, toxic fabrications and earth exploitation is what's been swept under the rug.
I feel when it comes to sustainability there’s a lot of us who are consciously aware of what’s right and what's wrong. But, on the other hand there’s still a huge majority of people that prioritise their own needs over actually being a “conscious consumer.” And this is where the problem lies. And we all hate problems, especially when they’re lying. So, what’s your problem? Are you too lazy? You just can’t be bothered? Is sustainability just not cool enough?
Sustainability is cool, it's like, so cool. When I do something good that benefits the people and the environment around me, you know like recycling, taking clothes to op shops or making my own Nutella - I feel cool. I feel so cool in fact that I want to throw on some dirty arse shades, click my fingers into guns, point them to the sky and say “Hey earth, this ones for you because you know what - you’re the real MVP.”
And I get it, that tartan suit is cool that was just knocked off the runway, and omg Boohoo is $24.99 for a whole outfit. But let's think about it, have you tried to sew a garment? I once spent four hours figuring out how to make a tote bag, lets translate that into an entire suit, subtract out the materials, cost of labour, shipments, taxes.. argghh! Nothing is realistic. Every fleeting trend we go through is having detrimental effects on our people and our environment.
Buy less and be picky about the items you do accumulate. There's a shocking statistic that refers to our current "classic consumer" who will wear an item of clothing 7 times before they class it as "unwanted." I challenge you to buy clothing that you love and adore, garments that will stand the test of time. Care for them, fix them when they are broken and when it is time to move on, hand them to someone else who will reciprocate the love they deserve.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, swap and trade your way through to a new wardrobe. Be engaged, be conscious and be aware of every action you make - own your environmental footprint and let it be something you're proud of.
Fashion doesn't have to be fast. Justin Timberlake sang about it - "what goes around comes back around," and the hunt is the thrill of the chase. I know I’m a small voice in a big pond of consumers, but I hope as someone who is taking the time to voice an action you can pull even a fragment of inspiration from this article or some of the other people pushing for more sustainable pro activeness.