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ethical 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 to 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 in order to raise awareness about the wasteful nature of the 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, dropping 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 stores attempting to meet their profit margin targets.

When Cheap Equals Disposable

If you’re sat there wondering why cheap 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 clothing; buying 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, and having a direct effect through our own consumption changes, as well as call for transformations of the fashion industry can help bring about the changes needed.

Fashion, Life & Style

7 Black-Owned Ethical Fashion and Accessory Brands

Today I wanted to share 7 Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands with you today.

I know I’m speaking to the converted here when I say that fast fashion is built on an exploitative and racist business model.

Fast fashion brands exploit people of colour using a workforce of predominantly female garment workers in low-wage economies like Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, and Vietnam. Many of these workers labour in terrible working conditions, far below the living wage, and are denied paid sick leave and other basic rights, just to make clothes that, according to Traid, are worn only ten times before being disposed of.

Whilst ethical fashion is a better choice, even in the ethical fashion sphere in 2020 there is still a striking lack of representation of Black and minority brands, and brands using Black models. In terms of diversity, the sector has a long way to go.

To help celebrate diversity within the ethical fashion sphere, I’ve rounded up seven Black-owned ethical fashion and accessory brands in the UK. While I’m here, I’ve also updated my ethical clothing brands directory for 2020.

Black-Owned Ethical Fashion & Accessory Brands

AAKS

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

Akosua’s goal is to introduce the world to her favourite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. 

Handcrafted in Ghana, AAKS beautiful woven bags are made using ecologically harvested raffia from family farmers in Ghana. They utilise as much of every raffia as possible and reserve scraps for smaller bags.

Find their shop here and Instagram here.

BMUSE Vintage

BMUSE Vintage launched on Earth Day 2020, during Fashion Revolution Week, BMUSE sell a beautifully curated selection of stylish vintage clothing.

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

Find their website here and their Instagram here.

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 the 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. The people who create the items sold here must feel worthy and acknowledged.”

Conscious of waste, remnants from the clothing are made into colourful hair bows or gift bags.

Find the shop here and their Instagram here.

Kitty Ferreira

Kitty Ferreira makes stylish sustainable clothes perfect for work or special occasions, all of which are made in London.  Clothes are dyed using natural dyes, the silk they use is organic and cruelty-free, and where possible they use British made upcycled fabrics.  And in a very welcome move, the clothes go up to a size 26 – which is good news for customers looking for plus size ethical clothing.

Find their website here and Instagram here.

Maison Archives

black owned ethical fashion brands

Maison Archives sell chic sustainable fashion accessories sourced from fairtrade co-ops. From hair clips to head bands, and bags to hats, Maison Archives is a great go-to when you’re after something special to sustainably jazz up an existing outfit.

Find their website here and their Instagram here.

OlaOla

black-owned ethical fashion bags uk

OlaOla is a Textile design studio, by Ola Olayinka, which creates bold & unique patterned accessories such as bags, hair accessories and jewellery.

Each product is printed and hand-made in small batches in the UK. Making product to order allows for less fabric waste, and OlaOla use all smaller off-cuts to up-cycled into products such as earrings. 

Find their shop here, and Instagram here.

Yala Jewellery

black-owned ethical fashion and accessories uk

Yala is a female-founded and black-owned modern jewellery brand that embodies intricate design, sustainable materials, ethics and transparency.

Yala is built on social values, to improve the lives of others by creating financial opportunities for skilled Kenyan artisans, who make a beautiful range of earring, bracelets, necklaces and rings. Kenyan models, photographers and stylists are also used for all publicity shots to embody their rich culture.

What’s more, Yala is proud to be the first jewellery brand in the UK to be a Certified B Corporation®.

Find their website here and Instagram here.

Come across any more black-owned ethical fashion or accessory brands? Do let me know and I will add them to this directory – I would like to see it grow.