There is a whole generation out there that doesn’t know how the high street gets its fashion. Education in clothing manufacture doesn’t exist. When I was at Uni, how fast fashion happened was never something we were actively asked to consider during our processes. Being a responsible designer or fashion buyer was not one of our considerations.
More than a year ago The Guardian asked how you could encourage teens to adopt responsible attitudes towards fashion. I don’t know if anything much has changed. What I do know is that if you buy something cheap you are less likely to value it. So if your clothing is relatively worthless in purchase terms how long is it likely to last in your wardrobe? Sadly when you look at the process a garment goes through, it does not correlate to the price tag.
Fast fashion condenses the 101 processes of making a garment into six to eight weeks. Instead of the old rhythm – spring/summer, autumn/winter – a fast-fashion brand can introduce two mini-seasons a week. A piece of fast fashion will last five weeks in the average wardrobe.
There are things the high street doesn’t want us to know and customers aren’t inquisitive enough to ask the right questions. It’s disappointing because the customer has the power to change things and for the inquiring mind plenty of information is already out there. And it isn’t difficult to find.
If you’re concerned about what you’re buying but don’t have the information, here are a few things to bear in mind that should get your brain on the right road.
1.) The fashion industry is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after one week;
Being ‘in fashion’ is a fleeting moment in modern terms. Think about garments you can buy that fit the rest of your wardrobe and your lifestyle.
2.) “Discounts” aren’t really discounts;
It might be a discount to you but someone else is losing out big time and you can be sure it isn’t the store you bought it from. Labels that stock shops often have to pay back the difference if items are knocked down.
3.) There is lead and hazardous chemicals on your clothing;
Much of our clothing is made abroad and there is remarkably little regulation governing how things are made. This ensures that stores get their stock for the cheapest prices so they get maximum profit.
4.) Clothing is designed to fall apart;
What would be the point of fast fashion if every garment lasted a year? It isn’t to get your wardrobe nice and full so it’ll last a season, it’s to get you back every weekend.
5.) Beading and sequins are an indication of child labour.
Not all beading is hand sewn. If you have an eye for it it’s not difficult to work out what has been machined, sequins for instance. But beading is usually hand done since machinery does not exist to do this any other way. Look at the garment. Imagine how long it must have taken to sew embellishments by hand. Now imagine you do that all day every day for just a few pence. At the very least, if you buy it, wear it well and wear it long.