Thursday, January 31, 2019

Open Call to Fashionistas: Slow Your Roll on Fast Fashion. Shop Here, Not There.

The asymmetrical tank dress from Dorsu was designed to minimize fabric use and maximize versatility. It is made from lightweight, blended cotton jersey.

BY VW

FASHIONISTAS,
your attention, please. Smartphones down. Eyes Up. Ears Open.

Please kick the fast fashion habit. It's deadly and there is another way, albeit a tad more costly. But it's worth it.

One can only hope you've been giving this serious consideration these last couple of weeks or so during fashion week season (As you are no doubt aware, New York Fashion Week men's and women's commences next week.).

If you need another call to action to do the right thing, then cast your eyes on The Global Environmental Injustice of Fast Fashion article. It was written by Washington University professor Christine Ekenga and two colleagues and recently published in the journal, Environmental Health. (https://www.bit.ly/2RmuYWx)

In it they posit in no uncertain terms that the inexorable appetite, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, for clothes that are cheap, readily available and in the first stare of fashion is causing an environmental crisis in what they term low and middle-income countries, or (LMICs). Places like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Vietnam.

The Everlane sweater is made from 100 percent recycled polyester and a mainly cotton trim. The jeans, a Japanese denim, are made from cotton and elastane.

"From the growth of water-intensive cotton, to the release of untreated dyes into local water sources, to worker's low wages and poor working conditions, the environmental and social costs involved in textile manufacturing are widespread," says CE, an assistant professor at WU’s Brown School.

For most of us along the fashion spectrum with a pulse, this should merely be a reminder. Elizabeth Cline was one of the first to raise the alarm about fast fashion in her 2012 book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. The indictment continued in 2015 with Andrew Morgan's damning documentary, "The True Cost," not to mention the scores of articles and reports on this subject.

Don’t we all remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 workers? The poor working conditions that lead to the Renza Plaza catastrophe, pollution and other ills to which CE alludes happen at the major steps of the supply chain.

At production where synthetic fibers such as polyester are made and dyed. Where cotton is also dyed, that is after harmful pesticides are used to make it grow. Then on to assembly. Here, working conditions are poor. Next, these clothes – tattered and possibly out of fashion or out of favor – are discarded. Bundled, they find their way to LMICs where they are sorted by workers laboring in unsafe conditions for resale in LMICs. What is not sold is deemed solid waste. That would be harmful solid waste that takes a devil of a time to breakdown. That is if it can break down. If not, it just devolves into pollution.

Some of these clothes are burned. Imagine what that does to the air, regardless of where it happens when tons upon tons up of anything is burned. Imagine what it does to those forced to breathe in this toxicity.

The Stella McCartney Jame Coat for men is a single-breasted trench made from 100 percent wool with a 100 percent sustainable viscose lining. It also comes in black.

A pause to elucidate on burning as a waste disposal method: It is not just solely fast fashion brands like H&M that are guilty. Do we not expect better corporate responsibility from the likes of Michael Kors, the maker of Cartier watches and Burberry? To be fair, some of these luxury brands, Burberry included, have seen the error of their ways and are repenting. But that was a digression. Back to fast fashion.

So, if fast fashion is not the way forward, then what is? Of course, fashion that is well-sourced, well-produced and recycled if possible. Naturally (to use a word), this includes eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical fashion. Like others who has visited this subject, CE&Co. propose antidotes like the purchase of responsible fashion such as in the aforesaid categories, as well a government and corporate intervention.

Because fashionistas and others so inclined are being called out, a consumer call to action is the focus of this article. It is as simple as buying a Dorsu instead of Topshop. People Tree instead of Zara. Patronizing Everlane instead of Misguided.. And yes, one will be parting with more of his or her currency. In the name of massively good causes, lest we forget

Those with significant blunt to spend won't lack places to patronize. Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Rag & Bone, Mara Hoffman and other luxury brands doing eco-friendly and sustainable fashion are willing to separate you from it. Another label to keep an eye on that is between very affordable and luxury it Studio 189. One of its founders is Rosario Dawson.

Incidentally, just because a brand says it is doing fashion responsibly doesn't mean that it is. In the words of the Russian proverb,trust, but verify. Good on You can help with that. Visit the website or download the app. Type in the name of a brand to get information about how responsibly it sources and produces its product at every level of the process, including employee treatment and working conditions (https://www.goodonyou.eco/).

The Eileen Fisher silk satin jacket is fully lined. It has a notch collar and can be worn belted or not.

It is important to state here that this is no witch hunt targeting H&M, Forever 21 and their ilk. The hope is that these companies will tweak their business model responsibly. You, dear fashionistas, can write them yourself, and request that they do so. If you don't have their contact, Good On You does.

The bottomline: fast fashion would not exist if there were not a market for it. Take away the demand, and H&M and company will start making better quality clothes, eliminating the need for consumers to replace them every few months. That's the least you, you, you and you can do to ensure that people around the world – including yourselves – have a better quality of life; to save lives, no?

That would make a huge fashion statement.

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