This week is Fashion Revolution Week – a yearly campaign that started as a remembrance for the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and has evolved into a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry.
So how do we bring about a real revolution in the fashion industry? Despite the meaningful contributions fair trade is making, it will take more than better safety inspections, more stringent labor standards, and less toxic materials.
A Fashion Revolution has to start with how we think about clothes. Over the past few decades, the price we pay for clothing has gotten lower and lower in relation to our incomes, enticing us to buy more and more. In fact, today we buy an eye-popping 5x more clothing than we did in 1980. There’s a steep human and ecological cost to this flood of cheap clothes. While it’s often warranted, it’s too easy to point our collective fingers at large corporations whose products are found in places like Rana Plaza. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see our appetite for cheaper, faster, and more creates the conditions that lead to cutting corners. And the losers when corners are cut are workers and the environment. In other words all of us.
Demanding a supplier be socially compliant and then turning around and pressuring them to shave $3 off the price of each sweater is not sustainable math.
To evolve fashion forward, we have to start challenging the whole concept of “Fast Fashion” that’s been looming over the industry for years. There are three ways to hone our way of thinking about clothes that will go a long way in building a more sustainable future.
Try Timeless. Shifting your shopping habits from “what can I wear now?” to “what can I wear now, and for years to come?” will not only save earthly resource, it’ll save you time and money too. By carefully selecting timeless silhouettes in colors you feel good in you’ll get more mileage out of your closet. If that feels like a pretty big baby step for your fashionista tendencies, you can still work timeless pieces into your wardrobe and then embellish them with fresh accessories each season.
Quest for Quality. Seek out quality fabrics that endure for longer than one season. If your timeless garment looks bad after a few months of washing and wearing, it’s not truly timeless. Pima cotton is a great option. Its long staple fibers are stronger (and softer) than almost any other cotton and will last through many seasons of washing and wearing. At Fair Indigo, we take the uncommon extra step of pre-washing most of our fabrics before cutting and sewing, insuring that all of the shrinking happens before it’s crafted into a garment. This prevents twisting, torquing, and puckering around the seams after you wash it at home.
Free Yourself from the Fashion Police. Every day we’re bombarded with messages about this season’s must have bag, the color of the year that everyone will be wearing, or what this or that celebrity was spotted wearing and why you need that thing, now. Free yourself from all this noise and allow your better instincts to inform you. Do you want to look your best and feel like your wardrobe is up-to-date? Of course. Do you want to dabble in the more trendy side of fashion? Sometimes, sure, or maybe not. But at the end of the day, you know what clothes make you look how you want to look and feel how you want to feel. Don’t let the Fast Fashion czars dictate to you what you want.