Category

Fashion

Fashion, Life & Style

What’s So Bad About Fast Fashion Anyway?

problems of fast fashion

Today I have a post from Lianne Bell, author of How On Earth Can I Be Eco-Friendly*, on the problems of fast fashion, and what you can do to help.


What’s So Bad About Fast Fashion?

I recently signed up for Slow Fashion Season. Here 25,000 people have pledged not to buy any clothes for 3 months, between 21st of June and 21st of September. The aim is to raise awareness about the wasteful nature of the fast fashion industry and how you as a consumer play a role in it.

I love sustainable fashion. So much so that friends, family, and people on Instagram all ask me the same thing – how can I shop more sustainably? And my response is pretty simple – just stop buying clothes. Because let’s be honest, the rate at which we are collectively consuming clothing is beyond nauseating.

The number of garments being produced has doubled in the last 20 years. As a result of this, we are wasting the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles every single second.  This is a staggering amount of waste, that has severe ramifications on the planet.

Fast Fashion and Economics

Over the last 20 years, as the price of our goods and services has steadily risen, clothing has not. In fact, clothing is the only consumable which has deflated in price. It has instead done a complete 180. It’s dropped considerably in comparison to other consumables, and thus completely defying the laws of economics. But why?

One of the main factors which contributed to this was the Multi-Fibre Agreement. This was an international trade agreement that imposed quotas on the volume of clothing we could import from developing countries. When this ended in 2005 it opened the door for suppliers and factory owners in developing countries to work on a larger scale with major corporations within the western retail world. 

Western corporations were able to treat the labour of garment workers as though it were a commodity. The factory owners offered labour at lower and lower prices in order to meet the desired garment prices. These prices were demanded by the high street fast fashion stores attempting to meet their profit margin targets.

When Cheap Equals Disposable

If you’re sat there wondering why cheap fast-fashion clothing is such a problem, then do not fear, you are not alone. I thought the exact same thing. This was until I realised that the heart of the problem lies in the fact that we’ve come to think of clothing as disposable and easily replaceable.

When something is so readily available to us, it devalues the whole item. We don’t even have to think about it. We just buy it, aimlessly and needlessly. Half the time, we’ll buy clothing, then send it off to a charity shop without ever wearing it

This creates a whole new problem. Once our high street charity shops are overrun by cheap, generic clothing which they can’t sell, they bundle it off to developing countries. Here it is chopped up into rags, sold on at markets, or thrown into landfill.

The town of Panipat in North India recycles over 100,000 tonnes of our cast-offs every year. So much so that it is known as the world’s “cast off capital“.

The women of Panipat that shred these practically unworn garments have surmised that there is a water shortage in the Western world. That’s because the mindless nature of our clothing consumption is so alien to them, that they assume it’s too expensive for us to wash our clothes. This is the only way for them to make sense of how we discard our clothing after only wearing it a handful of times.  

What Can We Do?

So what can we do to stop this deluge of clothing? Well, this brings me back to Slow Fashion Season. By avoiding buying from fast fashion brands; trading, upcycling or DIYing clothingbuying second-hand and vintage clothing; and/or supporting sustainable, local, small fashion labels who may be struggling due to COVID-19, then by acting as a crowd we can be a force for change. Change for ourselves, the people around us, and the policies and industries that are woefully inadequate.

The fashion industry should be more sustainable. And the fashion industry should treat its workers fairly. We can have a part in this through our own consumption changes. We can also call for transformations of the fashion industry can help bring about the changes needed.

Enjoyed this post? Do check out this fast fashion infographic that has some pretty shocking information.

Fashion, Life & Style

The UK Based Black-Owned Ethical Fashion and Accessory Brands

Today let me share seven UK based Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands with you.

I know I’m speaking to the converted here when I say that fast fashion is built on an exploitative and racist business model. These fast fashion brands exploit people of colour by using a workforce of predominantly female garment workers in low-wage economies. These include places such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, and Vietnam.

Here, many workers labour in terrible working conditions, far below the living wage. What’s more, workers are denied paid sick leave and other basic rights. All of this just to make clothes that are worn only ten times before being disposed of.

Ethical fashion is a better choice. However, even in the ethical fashion sphere in 2021 there is a lack of representation. There’s a distinct lack of Black and minority brands. And not enough ethical brands are using Black models. It’s safe to say that in terms of diversity, fashion has a long way to go.

The UK Black-Owned Ethical Fashion Brands Guide

In order to celebrate diversity within the ethical fashion sphere, let’s shine a light on the UK based Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands.

AAKS

AAKS was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi. Akosua is a Ghanaian native who graduated from Kingston University London.

Akosua’s goal is to introduce the world to her favourite Ghanian weaving techniques. At the same time, she wants to create sustainable jobs within Africa. 

Handcrafted in Ghana, AAKS beautiful woven bags are made using ecologically harvested raffia. Scraps are even reserved for smaller bags, in order to minimise waste as much as possible.

BMUSE Vintage

A newcomer to the scene, BMUSE Vintage launched on Earth Day 2020. Selling a beautifully curated selection of stylish vintage clothing, they are an antidote to fast fashion.

BMUSE says “by honouring vintage as preloved fashion that already exists, we are not causing any further harm to people and the environment.”

Glow And See

London based Glow and See produce ethically made reflective knitwear. This range has been created with a wide range of wearers in mind. Rather than just focusing on cyclists, their knitwear has a broader appeal. From the chic commuter to the dog walker, or the parent or child wanting to be safe on the streets, their pieces are for everyone.

What’s more, this wonderful range of headwear and neckwear does not compromise style over function. Effortlessly ready to wear in the day, they’re beautifully reflective at night. This helps you to stay safe yet stylish.

Kemi Telford

black ethical clothing brands uk

Kemi Telford design and sell beautifully bold Nigerian influenced clothing with a western twist.

Sustainability is at the heart of this Black-owned ethical fashion brand. Kemi Telford says “This brand was created to empower women. This means that our employees – and those of our manufacturers – are always treated with care and respect“.

What’s more, Kemi Telford is conscious of waste. Remnants from the clothing are made into colourful zero-waste hair bows and gift bags.

Kitty Ferreira

Kitty Ferreira makes stylish sustainable clothes. These are perfect for work or special occasions.

London made, all aspects of ethical production are considered. From the use of natural dyes. To the use of organic and cruelty-free silk. And, where possible, British-made upcycled fabrics are used.  And in a very welcome move, the clothes go up to a size 26. This is great news for customers looking for plus size ethical clothing.

Maison Archives

black owned ethical fashion brands

Maison Archives sells chic sustainable fashion accessories sourced from fairtrade co-ops. Think beautiful hair clips and headbands, as well as stylish bags and hats.

OlaOla

black-owned ethical fashion bags uk

OlaOla is a Textile design studio, ran by Ola Olayinka. Here they create bold & unique patterned accessories such as bags, hair accessories, and jewellery. As such, it’s a great one-stop-shop for ethical accessories.

Each product is printed and hand-made in small batches in the UK. Making products to order in this manner allows for less fabric waste. What’s more, OlaOla uses all smaller off-cuts. Here they are upcycled into products, such as earrings, to further reduce fabric waste.

Yala Jewellery

black-owned ethical fashion and accessories uk

Yala is a female-founded modern jewellery brand. As the first jewellery brand in the UK to be designated a Certified B Corporation®, sustainability is key. As such, they pride themselves on their intricate design, sustainable materials, ethics, and transparency.

Their beautiful range of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings are handmade by Kenyan artisans. What’s more, Kenyan models, photographers, and stylists are used for all publicity shots.

Have you come across any more black-owned ethical fashion or accessory brands? Do let me know – I would love to see this guide grow and grow.