The Problem with Fast Fashion
The concern with fast fashion is not new. There have been numerous reports on how little value brands and, in consequence, consumers are putting in each clothing item they purchase. Fortunately, at the same time, there is also a fight against this trend and brands, big and small, are doing their bit to make fashion a more sustainable industry.
At Claude, we not only care but make all our design and production decisions based on sustainability. We believe that, in the long run, this is the only way to grow.
Our items are made from 100% organic cotton, and we’re soon to introduce another angle of BCI Cotton (bettercotton.org). Non-seasonal, great quality and unisex. All great reasons to circulate, reuse and pass along.
Sourcing Organic Cotton has gotten harder and more expensive in the last six months than ever before, but we strive forward with it because we need to. We hope that with increased demand the traditional cotton farmers will change their mind.
Organic Cotton saves 91% water, 61% energy compared to conventional material. No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air we breathe. Farmers are paid fairly and working conditions are safer. Feels good right?
We manufacture in Portugal and India, using carefully selected ethical factories with great people. All our orders are packed in a dust bag to keep and reuse. Plus, we have recently sourced biodegradable non-plastic garment bags to protect our clothing in transit that will disappear and break down with time.
But first things first, what is fast fashion and what’s the real issue about it?
What is fast fashion?
By definition, fast fashion is the mass production of cheap, poor quality, almost disposable clothing. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, the fashion industry churns out 80 billion garments a year - that's over 10 for every person on earth.
That’s 400% more than it produced 20 years ago. Sickening.
I’ve often found myself wondering what happens to ALL of the surplus and not wanted items. It’s so overwhelming when you think about it.
Fashion has always been cyclical but in the past couple of decades, this cycle has changed. Clothes become cheaper, quality becomes poorer and fashion trends accelerate. From two or four yearly seasons, that had a lot to do with weather, we now have dozens of micro-seasons, basically based on marketing.
This creates an incentive for people to buy more clothes to keep up with the trends. What’s sadly fallen out of fashion is mending, passing on, or recycling the garments we don’t need anymore.
Instead, they either go to landfill or get incinerated. Here is where one of the issues is. But it doesn’t end there.
What are the consequences?
The main problem is environmental, but it does leak through other issues, such as human rights and working conditions.
Fashion—a £1.8 trillion sector—is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind oil. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means that environmental corners are cut in the name of profit. Fast fashion’s negative impact includes the use of cheap, toxic textile dyes – with the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture.
There are approximately 40 million garment workers in the world today; many of whom do not have rights or protections. Plus, roughly 85% of all garment workers are women.
It’s each brand’s responsibility to make sure standards are met. Unfortunately, many of the big names don’t.
So what’s the solution?
Luckily, even with children’s clothing, we have many options outside of fast fashion, and it’s possible to find stylish, affordable, and ethical apparel if you just know where to look.
Instagram has made that world a lot smaller, there are so many amazing indie businesses who do care. There is a lot of ‘green washing’ (Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally friendly) that goes on. So call it out, ask a company to do better. The only changes made will be through demand.
Research and buy from eco-fashion companies who are pursuing the production of clothing with more environmentally friendly methods. Buying from local independent brands that focus on creating a culture of sustainability by producing less from the onset.
They also design clothing to be of the highest quality, ensuring durability and longevity, so clothes last a long time in your wardrobe and grow with your kids.
Don’t buy something unless you truly love it. Choose from brands that have higher quality garments, that will last long and really make a difference in your wardrobe, but that you know will match what you already have too. Neutral tones are great for this, and for babies, unisex colours are not only stylish but easier to match and to pass on to other kids too.
Donate or give them to your friends and family
When you donate your clothes you’re helping to divert tens of thousands of pounds of clothing from the landfill. Plus, you’re giving a good quality garment to someone else who will probably love it as much as you did and most likely needed it too.
We’ve recently worked with charity Baby Basics. They do such a good job of supporting new mothers and families who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby. To donate and find out more about their work, click here.