Did you know the items in your closet are world travelers? Each piece of clothing that you own has touched multiple countries. In fact, the whole lifestyle of a garment could span nearly every continent on our planet. From design to production, manufacturing to retailers, the timeline and manpower used is global. Which means we don’t have just an industry issue, but a global one.
Sustainable, ethical, and empowering changes in production and consumption practices are essential to making the fashion industry and world a better place.
The “fast fashion” culture has hit the market demanding a cut in production times and an increase in store turnover rates. Consumers want the newest styles in the fastest time frame at the lowest cost; and they’ll do just about anything to get it!
As fast fashion continues to dominate the industry, the effects are, without a doubt, taking their toll. Across the world, from the streets of Hong Kong, to the villages of Bangladesh, the communities of India, and even the alleyways of NYC and LA; sweatshops have become the norm. Major retailers submit their orders to the sweatshops complete with a fixed rate they will pay, a quantity expected, and a due date in place. Factory owners typically take the bulk of the cut, before passing down what’s left to their workers. This typically translates into shockingly low wages, the shipment of orders across borders for cheaper production, unsafe and overcrowded workspaces, poor air circulation and ventilation, worker exploitation, and child labor.
The fast fashion culture exploits Earth’s resources with the creation of synthetic, man-made fibers, fabrics, and dyes. One garment might be pieced together in five or more different places. Trends that are constantly changing have left consumers circulating through garments at an alarming rate. Textile landfills across the world grow larger daily as unused garments go to waste. In the Unites States alone, 13 million tons of textile waste is deposited in landfills every year. This has translated into contaminated water supplies and total evacuation of some areas across the world.
That five dollar dress that looks appealing on the rack is the reason workers across the world are laboring around the clock, yet struggling to survive on less than $1 per day.
Fast fashion’s effects have ignited the need for sustainable fashion companies, like Lions in Four, who focus on transparency and sustainability. Transparency is achieved by informing consumers exactly where each product was produced and by whom. Sustainability involves committing to utilizing textiles that were created and manufactured in an ethical way. For some, this means using natural dyes which cause no effect to water bodies when discarded, utilizing only organic fabrics, or committing to pay workers a fair, livable wage.
Where fast fashion takes its toll on our planet and exploits workers around the world; outlets for sustainable fashion, or slow fashion, take their chance at creating change.
In order for slow fashion to make its mark, consumers have to understand what needs to change. You have to realize that by paying a fair price for a piece of clothing, you are paying the workers behind its creation. Instead of purchasing new garments each week, you should invest in a few quality, fairly priced items that will last years after purchase. It is all about being educated and informed. The majority of consumers do not understand that their purchases directly impact the individuals that stitched the seams or attached the buttons. You wear where your clothes came from. We have to remember that!
Guest post written by Melanie. Melanie serves as the System Manager for Lions in Four Foundation, working with hands on implementation of our supply chain, client on-boarding, product development and manufacturing. Melanie is currently working overseas at our artisan center to help train artisans, furthering their vocation.