How has the fast fashion industry impacted on you and I? From a personal perspective it has polluted and conglomerated an already bulging wardrobe.
A few years back, the penny dropped; another large bag of clothing being eliminated from a seasonal cleanout that had no value in the second hand market and looked liked it was going to end up in the landfill. A little contemplation, some research, a few discussions and yes, as an individual I was contributing to the national average of 23 kilograms per person, per annum, to our local landfill in textile waste alone.
As the owner of an alterations and bespoke workroom this was of particular interest and worth keeping note of.
What we have observed in the last 10 years has been a rapidly changing environment. As business costs have consistently increased, the cost of clothing has decreased making the viability of repairing and altering appear less cost effective.
The rapid expansion of the fast-fashion industry has appeared to be a fabulous evolution in the western world – micro-trend fashion at cheap cheap cheap prices – however; it has not been without significant consequences.
The impact of our apparel consumption on the environment is devastating. The factories churning out hundreds of thousands of garments are full of women and children working in ghastly conditions, for little or no return. And as clothing itself has become so devalued, so has the skill of creating it.
It is not until catastrophes like the factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh that people begin consider how their t-shirts get from one side of the world to a store in our little island paradise on the other side at so little cost.
Paralleled along side this, here at Nemo we began to find accessing certain fabrics and essential haberdashery items more difficult and/or more expensive. It is an interesting situation.
In monitoring this now for a number of years, I believe there is a growing awareness, people are slowly becoming more conscious consumers.
We have an increasing number of clients requesting items in their wardrobe be remodeled or upcycled because the fabric quality is superior. Our made-to-measure / bespoke side of our business is also getting busier and busier. Clients are choosing to spend more wisely and have a personalised garment made that is patterned for their body, made in quality fabrics, with design details they have chosen. It is a process many thoroughly enjoy and return for. Slowly the traditional bespoke tailoring services are becoming desirable.
So, as the world is now coming to realise that Fast Fashion, like Fast Food has social and environmental costs that are far reaching and nothing short of abhorrent, the industry is now seeing a response.
H&M, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing fast fashion businesses, has been pushing a more sustainable business concept, committing to policies which require more responsible design and production practice.
In 2013, H&M also introduced garment collection bins in-store to help drive textile recycling and ‘close the loop’ between the consumer end-use and new product design. In 2014 they had collected approximately 7,684 tonnes of used garments.
What does this mean? To us it means shopping in our wardrobes. It means valuing the clothing we purchase and looking after the items in terms of care and maintenance. Knowing what to throw out and what to remodel or alter. Knowing how to shop in good quality recycled boutiques for pieces that are other wise out of financial reach.
It means shopping locally, buying from locally produced labels, understanding and taking the time to know who and where the clothing is manufactured. Supporting our local industry is so important; 50 years ago over 80% of the clothing available to buy off the rack was made right here in New Zealand. Today less than 3% is manufactured here.
For us at Nemo, producing beautiful bespoke clothing for clients who value the experience and desire to create a personal style is a passion. We are advocates of the Slow Movement; it resonates with our ethos and who we are.