What is a fashion no no

No to fast fashion! A plea for fair fashion.

Mar 9, 2019

"That is the essence of fast fashion - fashion that nobody needs, but that everyone should have."
Alf-Tobias Zahn (author ofSimply attractive. The guide for everyone who is fed up with disposable fashion. ")

Made in China, Made in Cambodia, Made in Bangladesh - if something is on the slip of your newly acquired fashion piece, it often means starvation wages, chemicals and dramatic events like the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh, which collapsed in 2013. Over 1100 workers were killed. 2000 others were injured. In a nutshell, you can see the whole sad dimension of so-called Fast fashion read off.

Fast fashion is on everyone's lips. But what does that actually mean? Fast fashion is essentially a profit strategy that pursues only one goal: the tough and exclusive focus on profit and growth. This includes bringing new fashions into the shops at high frequency. For you to compare: In haute couture or at designer labels like Ana Alcazar, a fashion year traditionally comprises two cycles - that is, there is a spring / summer and an autumn / winter collection. At cheap labels like H&M, Zara, Primark & ​​Co., up to 24 collections are now availablein the year(Source: McKinsey & Company (2016), Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula. By Nathalie Remy, Eveline Speelman, and Steven Swartz, October 2016).

This lightning-fast change is made possible by the acceleration of production. It used to take between two and three months for a product to go on sale, today it is - according to the auditing company KPMG - between 15 and 12 days. Every micro-trend is picked up and shown in the stores. Cheap copies of designer fashions are bought en masse, worn briefly and then thrown away. The strategy is aimed primarily at younger consumers who are trend-conscious and have less budget. And it works. A welcome side effect: attention for the brand is increased through the constant updating of the models.

Who pays the price for fast fashion?

The documentary The True Cost, which I had already recommended to you in the film tips, asks exactly this question. Director Andrew Morgan traveled to thirteen countries to show who pays the real price for a cheap shirt in our department stores: namely, the exploited textile workers from countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, who are on the verge of exhaustion to starvation wages and sometimes under inhumane and sewing conditions harmful to health.

But the extreme increase in our clothing consumption also has serious ecological consequences. Over 70% of clothing is made of cheap synthetic, small pieces of which end up in sewage and oceans when washed. In addition, synthetic fibers are difficult to recycle - so basically inevitably produce disposable products. Without synthetic fibers such as polyester, however, rapid growth would not be possible at all. Because the synthetic fiber is made from non-renewable oil - cheaply and quickly. Cotton is the more valuable material, but it also has a bad ecological balance. For a T-shirt you need 1.5 kg of raw cotton, around 15,000 liters of water are needed to produce 1 kg of cotton alone. Not to mention the chemicals that are harmful to the environment. All in all, the résumé is frightening: In the predominantly Asian production countries, the rapidly growing textile industry has become the second largest consumer and polluter of water after the oil industry.

Throwaway society versus sustainability

Disposable clothing - buy cheap and a lot, throw it away after a short time, all of this is only possible through the exploitation of people and the environment. The numbers speak volumes: Apparel production doubled from 2000 to 2014. In 2014, more than 100 billion pieces of clothing were produced. German consumers buy an average of 60 pieces of clothing a year - but only wear them for half as long as 15 years ago. Fast fashion has expanded tremendously since 2000 - led by the fashion brands Zara and H&M. (Source: McKinsey & Company (2016), Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula. By Nathalie Remy, Eveline Speelman, and Steven Swartz, October 2016)

Our responsibility as consumers

With all that in mind, it's clear that fast fashion cannot be the future. But what can the way out of these grievances look like? The most effective lever is to get the economy to change. Because she notices that products are preferred to be bought when the balance sheet is right - that is, when they have been produced and traded in a fair, socially and environmentally friendly manner. Although the sales of fast fashion retailers are currently increasing, there is already a counter-trend that is returning: labels such as Armed Angelsthat produce sustainably and fairly are on the rise. Luxury designer like Dries van Noten always follow the creed Fair fashion instead of fast fashion. With great attention to detail, the Belgian designer, who has always paid attention to the highest quality since the company was founded in 1986, selects materials and accessories: “We research and develop a lot, plus the fabrics, the handcraft, the shows, all of which is very expensive .", he says. To him, credibility and creative work are clearly more important than profit. This shows the change in values ​​towards a new, immaterial understanding of luxury and status, which is making the sustainability movement more and more popular. Overall, there is a growing willingness to spend a little more on items of clothing that are made consciously, with purpose and quality, and with sustainability in mind.

The multiple award-winning Augsburg entrepreneur is also setting a good example Sina Trinkwalder. The social entrepreneur has been running her very successfully since 2010 Eco-manufactory for fashion manomama. “We can't change the world, but we can make it a little better every day,” she says. “My drive is to get people back into a job.” And she keeps her word. Your company employs people who have had disadvantages in the job market because of their inadequate qualifications, their age or illness. And it works. None of the partners in manomama's supply chain is more than 33 km away. Only the organic cotton comes from Tanzania. But this is bought with respect and at fair prices. Sina Trinkwalder's company has been profitable for years and successful in every respect - certainly also because its own profit margins are set lower, free from greed.

Other labels are also very successful in producing fairly - like that French sneaker label Vejathat dispenses with chemical processing techniques and consciously uses less energy and resources. In addition, the shoes are made in Brazil from organic cotton, natural rubber and vegetable-tanned leather. The good relationship with local raw material suppliers is an essential part of the business strategy.

The new market that is on Greener fashion sets, so it already exists. There are also other good ideas such as upcycling concepts through to new fibers and innovative technologies. All of this is on the way and contributes to the only right thought: quality not quantity. Each of us has the choice of using this motto as a yardstick for our actions and for our shopping routine. We don't have to do without stylish fashion - Ana Alcazar for example lets only produce in Europe and used neither real leather nor real fur.

Every change takes time. I think we should all start together to make more conscious choices and buy more sustainably. Even if it might be a bit more expensive. Then maybe you better get a part less. This is the most consistent way to change the market in the long term and to put a stop to the influx of cheap labels.

how do you see it? Have you ever dealt with your own shopping habits? Feel free to post me on the topic in the comments.