Every year families spend hundreds of dollars on new back to school supplies and clothes. And while this behaviour remains the norm, opposition is growing.
Fast Fashion Norm
A few weeks ago, a co-worker complimented my shoes – I was wearing super comfortable leather booties that had been a part of my work wardrobe since my final co-op term.
A second co-worker overheard, looked down at my feet, and abruptly said “I had those too, but they’re like from two years ago”. I was about to say yes I’ve had them for a while when she said sheepishly, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that”.
Is it just me that wears old clothing like a badge of honour? The fact that people compliment my skirt that is 7+ years old is medal worthy in my books. So, why did my coworker think it was offensive to say how old my cute comfortable booties are?
Chances are, she was worried that her comment embarrassed me. Since it drew attention to the fact that I was not following the norm of replacing old products with new trendy products. I was not keeping up with fast fashion.
According to Kate Fletcher, fast fashion is low-cost clothing collections based on current, high-cost luxury fashion trends. By its very nature, fast fashion is fast-response system that encourages disposability.
Fast Fashion is a Flawed System
The current system, that lowers prices and increases production, is unsustainable.
Something has to give. Like in college when you could only choose two:
The consequences for workers in the supply chain and the environment are much greater than missing a party in college.
The demand for fast fashion equates to long hours, low wages, and dangerous work environments for workers. It also equates to the depletion of natural resources and pollution of the environment.
Want to learn more about the impact of fast fashion? Documentaries like “Made in Bangladesh” and the “True Cost” show the sacrifices made by workers and the environment to deliver cheap and fast fashion.
The good news is that more people are moving away from fast fashion and choosing alternative systems, including:
According to Hazel Clark, the slow fashion movement places value on local resources and economies, transparency in the production system, and creating products with a longer usable life.
As described by the Minimalists, “Minimalism focuses on ridding oneself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” For some people life’s excess is clothing, shoes, etc.
Purchasing or trading used clothes
Remember to check back next week to learn more about back to school shopping and social marketing.