A Closet Full Of Nothing To Wear: How this fashion faux pas is damaging the planet.
As a self declared style guru I’ve seen and had my qualms with the fashion industries wasteful practices; specifically fast fashion. Sites like Missguided, Boohoo, and Fashion Nova pump out trendy, extremely affordable pieces everyday by the hundreds with discounts and free shipping daily. This fuels the existing negative preconceived notion of outfit repeating, also known as “I can’t wear this outfit again, I’VE ALREADY TAKEN PHOTOS IN IT!” By violating this unspoken rule somehow you’re deemed shameful by your online constituents. Yes you heard that right, the friends you have on Instagram who you’ve known since kindergarten, shared classrooms with and even worked with every day are now going to look at you sideways all because you repeated outfits, even though they’ve seen you wear the same clothes to work since forever. These unrealistic and false standards are why these fast fashion sites heavily advertise on socials like Instagram because they can supply a quick and affordable solution to your fears of committing a fashion faux pas.
Enter here Maxine Bédat, former co-founder and CEO the sustainable fashion brand Zady, aka a women to be reckoned with. Her work and mission of creating a clean environment in the fashion industry has landed her high recognition and honors in the industry; her company Zady was labeled in 2014 as on of the “Most Innovative Companies” in retail by Fast Company. Even Oprah Winfrey mentioned Bédat on an episode of Super Soul 100 as a leader for her environmental and elevating humanity. Bédats TEDx Talks ( which I highly recommend every reader to watch and share) did a great job explaining why fast fashion is an issue, the ramifications of these problems, and how we as a society can start small and practice some steps in creating a healthy fashion diet.
Maxine mentioned that fashion companies rarely use cotton as a material and often stick to polyester, a plastic substance made out of fossil fuel, and as everyone knows, fossil fuel is not bio-degradable. That means every clothing item ever made out of polyester is still sitting in landfill somewhere on the planet. Literally, every piece from the beginning of time until now.
Recently, the New York Times published an article by Tatiana Schlossberg about How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet. It highlighted some ugly parts of the textile industry including slave and child labor. Schlossberg dives into how fast fashion clothing is purposely made to not last. “More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay.” The article also covered veteran style writer and author Dana Thomas’s book Fashionopolis; a book about how our wardrobes, the climate, and the economy intertwine.
So how can we do better you ask? Bédat shares 5 ways we can try to reduce the damage without sacrificing our style.
- Check the tags & understanding where clothing is coming from.
- If you’re not sure if an item is a fast fashion piece, check the seams. These pieces aren’t made with longevity in mind so they always lack quality and craftsmanship.
- Love what you buy! Don’t fall for the marketing ploys that aim to have you second guess your previous purchases. If you weren’t interested in that dress before there was a sale, you shouldn’t be interested during one.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask brands about how they source their materials. Any honest brand would disclose their practices – most of the time you’d already find it on their website.
- Lastly, think of the cost per wear for each article of clothing. When you break down items this way, it’ll help your buy quality piece you love that’ll last a lifetime (hopefully).
Which one of these steps can you start implementing in your life when shopping? If the access and affordability of fast fashion is the reason you might have a hard time breaking off, think about how much you’ll help the planet. Comment below and let us know what practices you could start today.