Fast fashion relies on mass production and mass consumption in order to survive. The fashion industry as a whole requires a lot of energy, water, and logistics to function in its current form, which means the days of current fast fashion will have to come to an end. People are catching on that disposable clothing isn’t good for the environment or for your bank account. To circumvent fast fashion consumers are turning to vintage stores for clothing and some new styles that come out of combining old fabrics into new styles.
Clothes come and go at the Basingstoke home of Sarah Fewell, too. In fact, so many parcels come and go that she knows her postman by his first name (Jay). Fewell has always loved cutting up old clothes, sticking on studs, even at 14 when most of her friends were into Hollister. But now she has turned her passion for preloved clothes into a sustainable version of fast fashion. Fewell runs a shop called Identity Party on the website Depop, which since being established in 2011 has offered its 10 million users a blend of eBay-style trading with Instagram-style posting.Her brand is “a lot of 80s, 90s, quite bohemian, grungy”. She especially loves “selling things with animals on, a good old ugly jumper and anything by St Michael.”
The Rational Dress Society’s recent project called JUMPSUIT aims to make it so you never need to think about your clothing again. They propose that all you need is a single jumpsuit that you can wear everyday. It’s a revolutionary approach to the modern fast-fashion industry (which is horrible for you wallet, the environment, and labour conditions). You can download the pattern of the jumpsuit and make your own or order one made to your measurements.
The Rational Dress Society makes jumpsuits in two hundred forty-eight sizes culled from NASA data to fit almost any body type. Anyone can print the pattern for free from their website or, for a hundred and fifty dollars, order one that will arrive ready-made out of sustainable fabric and hand sewn by well-paid seamstresses. The design was inspired by patterns for work wear, and the finished garment looks like painters’ coveralls. But on the bodies of Maura and Abigail, both hip art-school grads with fashionable glasses and haircuts, the jumpsuits look simply chic, as though there is nothing more sensible or cool a person could wear.
Millennials are more interested in ethically produced clothing than previous generations, that’s being proven in the rise of ethical fashion lines. Eco-consious clothing can come in many versions from how it’s designed to how it’s produced. Production is the most energy-intensive part of clothing, and denim in particular is quite challenging. Tons of water is used to make a single pair of jeans and that water run off, if poorly dealt with, can poison local water systems.
One company, Everlane, has created a supply chain that is eco from top to bottom. We should be seeing more companies following their lead in the coming years.
Saitex’s president, Saanjeev Bahl, who also sits on the board of directors for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, has been a vocal force for change. Unhappy with the apparel industry’s practices—it’s second only to oil as the planet’s worst industrial polluter—Bahl built a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) operation considered one of the world’s most sustainable denim-manufacturing facilities, thanks to incredible efficiencies. A closed water system and jet washing machines lose only .4 liters of water per pair of jeans through evaporation; typical commercial machines waste as much as 1,500 liters per pair. Rainwater harvesting further minimizes water usage, while a five-step filtration process separates water from contaminants. (Preysman and Bahl made a video of themselves drinking the filtered waste water to prove it.)
By wearing the same style, not necessarily the same article of clothing, you can make your life easier. Its one less series of decisions you have to make throughout the day and will let you get your day off to an easier start. Plus you can save money!
So if you look at the direct costs of the outfit I wear every day, and the indirect layering-and-replacing costs, I’ve spent about $834.95 in the past 18 months on my work clothing. Which you know what? Is probably what I spent over the course of six months before starting up this whole crazy idea in the first place.
But here’s the thing: this was never about the money. (Or, lol, the “fashion.”)
This was 100% about not having to think about what I had to wear to work every day. Eliminating that one decision saved me hours of stress, and piles and piles of feeling uncertain and awkward and less-than-totally-confident during my day to day. Decision fatigue is real, friends, and I’d rather spend my limited decision-making energy on things that make a real impact, like my work or my relationships or literally anything other than my clothing. I just don’t care about it enough to spend any more time than I have to thinking about it.
Fast fashion has grown in popularity this century thanks to fast computer aided design and a global trade system that favours sweatshops over adequately paid labour. This consumer driven world of fashion is really bad for workers and bad for the environment as it consumes more resources than clothes built to last. When it comes to buying clothing you should put quality above cost and buy for the longterm.
When deciding what fashion trend to follow the answer is none of them. Instead, spend some time figuring out your style and once you find it invest in clothing that will last you a lifetime!
“You have to spend a little bit more,” Zakarian said. “If you really spend correctly and really buy good stuff that lasts and doesn’t go out of style, you’ll have a great wardrobe for the rest of your life. You can pass it down to your kids if you take care of it.”
Another tip: versatility.
“If there’s not three or four uses for something, I don’t buy it,” Zakarian said.