Apart from the devastating reality of the fashion supply chain, one major aspect of un sustainability within the fashion industry is down to consumerism. Habits we have picked up over the years, through the amount we shop. where we buy, how we value our clothes and what we do when we no longer need/want them.
Sustainability to me isn’t a way of manufacturing and sourcing their products that fashion retailers should inspire to, it should be a necessity. If a brand does not work sustainably then it should be labelled an unsustainable brand with unfair working conditions. These are factors that us as consumers should be aware of, not hidden from us. Whether a brand says they have started to use sustainable materials, does not certify them sustainable. Regarding from Stacey Dooley’s documentary, brands such as Primark attending a sustainable conference to talk about sustainability was not willing to enclose their source, why is that? If they were fully sustainable this wouldn’t have been an issue. Retailers tell us what we want to hear whether it’s true or false. Unfortunately, there is little we can do in terms of the supply chain but one large aspect that we can control is consumerism. Fast fashion is a retailers dream, we buy countless amounts of cheap fabric clothing every year to ensue we keep up with the latest ‘52’ trends of the year, and due to the low prices we think nothing of it and if it breaks we just buy another. But what if we knew where our clothing was made and who made them, would we think differently before we buy? We need to value our clothing and pay just that little extra for sustainable clothing that are durable therefore we do not have to keep on buying more.
Fashion & Sustainability – Design For A Change written by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose
This book taught me about all the new ways within the fashion industry that can be changed to be eco friendly and sustainable.
Part 1 includes the transformation of fashion products from materials and processes to distribution and disposal. Using, for example, low water fibres to reduce water waste instead of water-intensive fabrics. Colouring fabrics without the use of harsh chemicals and dyes and educating readers on predator friendly fibers. In Part 2 the book talks about transforming fashion systems – “However much we innovate and act to improve the sustainability credentials of a piece of clothing, the benefits brought by these changes are always restricted by the production systems and business models that market and sell the garment and by the behaviour of the person who buys it”. This statement stood out to me, not only does the businesses who are in charge of the supply chain and the fabrics and processes used to make the clothing are the sole cause for the need of change within the industry but the consumer habits and wants that have developed.
Part 3 then talks about how the designer is a big influence in regards to the material world. Designers applying their skills to develop a sustainable design practice. I found this book very interesting, learning about the new practise and processes of sustainability that will hopefully become the ‘norm’ within the fashion industry.
Fashioned by Nature is an exhibition in the V&A, London. It presents fashionable clothing alongside natural history, new innovative fabrics and the dyeing processes of the materials and fabrics. The exhibition is inviting people to see and think about the sources and the manufacturing aspects of their clothing.
I was particularly interested in the effects caused by the dyeing of the fabrics and the new solution to reduce the environmental effects. ‘Colorifix aims to create a low-water, pollution-free method of dyeing. Their solution relies on modifying microorganisms using synthetic biology such that they can produce, develop and fix dyes to the fabric’”.
It was also very interesting to see the new innovative and sustainable fabrics that have been invented in the last couple of years. Nike launched their Flyknit Racer trainers back in 2012. Using computer technology to ensure the most minimal waste. The Flyleather uses 90% less water used to create the trainers and reduced carbon footprint by 80% in comparison to traditional leather.
The exhibition portrayed the eight issues in the fashion industry. The contemporary issues caused by the production and waste of clothing. These elements need to be addressed before it is too late. Every aspect needs to be re-thought and changed by using manufacturing methods that limit waste, use less hazardous chemicals and follow the fair trade movement.
Minimalism is a documentary focusing on the life changing benefits and effects of a minimalist lifestyle choice. It’s about the consumer economy, we are fuelled by an illusion on what our lives should look like.
Everyday you see advisement whether it’s beauty, fashion, technology etc. on all types of platforms from large billboards and TV adverts to an Instagram post on your phone. It’s everywhere! It makes you believe that your lives should be perfect, which is far from reality for most of us. It talks about what’s important in life, things that make you happy. We bring things into our lives without a thought we are just told by the media that we need them and it will make us happy.
We have created a habit of buying excessive amount of things that bring no value what so ever to our lives but takes our hard earned money. People living in enormous homes, filling it with objects they never use or need, space they never use but pay for. Fast Fashion, a cycle of 52 seasons per year, they want us to feel like your out of trend so that to you buy again the week after, and this has become a habit most of us are doing without realising. We buy to fulfil a void and we keep looking but it never gets fulfilled. As consumers, we need to be concerned about quality and not quantity. An example was getting rid of any times that can cause you any sort of unnecessary stress such as an overflowing wardrobe of clothes we never wear. This habit of constant need to consume apposed to just thinking about what is necessary in our lives may just be the step in the direction we need to take to ensure a happy life and habitable environment.
The True Cost film/documentary unveils deep inside the tragedies of the fashion industry. The suffering the population in the developing countries such as India are enduring due to the need and want of cheap clothing and labour. It taught me the devastating effects of the Bt cotton seed that results in thousands of farmers in serve dept with many of them resulting in suicide. As a pesticide intensive crop, the chemicals used is also causing life threatening illnesses such as cancer. The documentary follows a young garment worker who is struggling to make a living by working endless hours a day and earning next to nothing. She is unable to keep her daughter with her in the city due to the dangerous chemicals therefore she is forced to send her away to a village where she can only visit around once or twice a year. She speaks out and tells us viewers to think twice before buying cheap clothing, think about who made your clothes and how many people suffered in the process.
Due to constant drop in prices, the cost of labour is decreasing to an unbelievable amount. The garment workers and farmers who produce our clothing deserve a fair wage and fair working conditions, but to keep up with the fast fashion marketing that retailers have created, to keep prices low in the shops they must make the production prices even lower. In my opinion fast fashion is a large contributing factor to the devastating reality of the garment workers, we need to accept that it is not ethical to pay so little for clothing and us as a society need to re-think our shopping habits and re-evaluate where we source our clothing.
Image from the True Cost Film.
Fashion Revolution believe in the values of people, the environment and profit in equal measure in the fashion industry. There goal is to unite people to create a better industry, changing the way we source, produce and consume our clothing for the better. They believe that collaborating between the supply chain, from the farmers to the consumer is the only way to transform the industry and I strongly agree with this statement.
Fashion Revolution Day. A year after one of the worst structural disasters in modern history, a garment factory, the Rana Plaza collapsed killing 1,135 people and injuring around 2,500. Fashion Revolution teamed up with the Fair Trade Foundation to create a movement to raise awareness of the problems in the fashion industry. It’s a who made my clothes campaign called ‘Fashion Revolution Day’ where people turn their clothing inside out so that the label is shown and photographs them wearing it, posts it on social media using the hashtag #insideout. It’s to show appreciation to the many people who made that garment and to call out to fashion companies to enclose where our clothes are really made, and by who.
I love this campaign by Fashion Revolution, the images of the garment workers shown in their working environments makes it very personal. It does make me think, when I wear a garment, that I don’t know who it was made by, most likely by garment workers who are suffering in various countries, these are the factors that we do not consider, which i’m sure fashion revolution wanted to achieve through this campaign.
This documentary really opened my eyes to the truth behind the dark side of the fashion industry, looking into the environmental tragedy of the Aral Sea due to cotton farming was shocking,
Shrinking from the 60s, the Aral Sea was once one of the largest inland sea’s in the world, now it is near enough vanished. Due to the disappearance of the sea, and without the water evaporating the sun’s heat, the climate has significantly changed turning what was once a fishing community into a desert.
Along with the Aral Sea, the documentary saw the polluting of the chemicals that flowed into the river from many different garment factories. Black coloured chemicals would infuse the river water, killing any living create that lived in it. The local people would use this water for cleaning and drinking purposes, resulting in skin irritation and illnesses. These companies clearly do not care about the effects that their factories are having on the population that lives around them, and this needs to be addressed.
What really interested me in this documentary was how little the public knew, or were aware, of the dangers and effects caused by the fashion industry and how it is the second most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry. This is due to the lack of information given from retailers on where their clothes are made and who and what makes them. Stacey visited a sustainability summit in Copenhagen where numerous large retailers attended and not one would inclose any information regarding their production methods.