With sparkly come-hither Christmas windows still filled with twinkly lights and baubles the commercial brands beckon and The Sales have started in earnest. They've made their shops look really nice for us, because they want us to look really pretty and on trend ....
And it's so easy to forget that most big brand clothes are made as quickly as possible, with every corner cut, profit being the driving force behind every stitch. Marketed to be quickly used and disposed of, these throw away clothes give sky-high profits to the owners of the big fashion chains who feed on this cyclical and cynical consumption pattern. Phillip Green, we're looking at you. (See this article from the Guardian 'Should you stop buying clothes at Top Shop?')
Our fashion magazines then encourage us to buy cheap bits and pieces weekly or even daily, and then show us how to purge our wardrobes clear of the rubbish every season, presumably to free up space for next season.
If this were food, we'd be a bit wiser to it and spot it for what it is: Bulimia.
We call it fast fashion but it isn’t really about speed, it's all about greed: selling more, making more money, pile it high, sell it cheap, grab yourself a bargain, morals and ethics cast aside to feed off the cheapest labour, or natural resources in the pursuit of maximum profits.
Yet the fabric or leather in those super-cheap, ‘value’ or fast fashion clothes is no quicker to make or use than any artisan clothes, it takes just as long to sew, and cut. So how do the big chains get such low prices?
Simple - such short lead times and cheap clothes are only made possible by exploitation of labour and natural resources. Sweat shops, pesticides, pollution, child labour and animal cruelty are just some examples of how fast fashion chains and, by extension, retailers maintain their high profit margins on the super cheap stock that they sell.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.
We can design a different system for ourselves that makes money while respecting the rights of workers and the environment, and produces beautiful and conscientious garments.
Smart fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better.
Smart fashion is not time-based but quality-based. (There's a bit more about this on our waiting-list page. Afterall, it's why we have a waiting list)
Smart or slow fashion is not the opposite of fast – it's simply a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers become more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.
Remember the Three point Smart Fashion checklist:
1. Turn your back on mass produced fashion and it's surrounding culture easily and simply by buying from second hand shops, local designers and artisans. You'll be supporting small local businesses or charity and you'll look totally amazing.
2. Choose sustainable clothing made with sustainable fabrics, ethically made and built with love to last a lifetime. Our big brands have been relentlessly feeding us a diet of disposable clothes so that we buy more, every season (or else they go out of business). More items, more often is their mantra. It doesn't matter at what cost, this is about profit:
3. You probably don't need so many clothes, imagine the joy of having a handful of key pieces that look amazing on you across the years. All you have to do is choose quality garments that will last longer, transcend trends because they suit your body type and colouring, and are repairable. As Vivienne Westwood says '"What I want people to be able to do is to buy well, by first choosing well and then making it last. And I also believe that if everyone wore just a few beautiful things, there would not be such a ... problem,"
Clothes are for life, not just for Christmas.
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