Monday, March 04, 2013

The need for speed within the fashion industry

Fashion. To some it is demanding, interpretive, insane, unrealistic, and expensive. To others it is exhilarating, breathtaking, artistic, fast-paced and enjoyable. Regardless of loving or hating, following or resisting, fashion will always be changing. Every day something in the world of fashion is changing. New trends arise, new trends will fall, some will come back and some will not.
Fashion is both an art and a science. The artistic side of fashion involves the cut of the garment, the way it is sewn, the colour and any other design aspect you can think of. The scientific side of fashion explores the “fashion cycle” which begins with the introduction, then the rise, followed by the peak, and finally the decline, which ends in the products obsolescence. Whether you are looking at the scientific side of fashion or the artistic side, one thing the world of fashion never falls short of is movement.
The question is, is “slow fashion” a viable movement, or is fashion innately “un-green”? There are two sides to every story. Let’s examine. There is first side to the story, going green. There are many eco-friendly trends that have begun to arise; most recently found is “slow fashion”. What is “slow fashion”? The term was coined in 2008 by sustainable design consultant Kate Fletcher. Fletcher describes “slow fashion” as an approach to clothing and fashion that is decidedly at odds with the fast (and even faster) fashion cycle. “Slow fashion” is the opposite of “fast fashion”; it slows down the fashion cycle. When trying to participate in “slow fashion” it means buying less, and caring for what you own so that it doesn't end up in a landfill. “Slow fashion” is not about stopping shopping completely, it is about creating a new love for your clothing and wardrobe. Appreciating what you already own, and being able to recognize a timeless design, good quality, and taking good care of your clothes.
Many designers all across North America have decided to outsource their product. It is very rare to see a manufacturer that produces everything locally. A company that has done is this Pendleton. Pendleton commits to using sustainable wool, and recycling materials and responsible for their legacy of long-lasting quality. It is refreshing to see a company that is able to do this however, this method tends to be quite expensive. Pendleton does not have a competitive price point in comparison to most “fast fashion” companies.
The second side to the story is following the modern movement. “Fast fashion” stores can be found everywhere in North America. Most of the time you are buying clothes if you look at the label the chances are more likely that your garment is not made in Canada. Is this a good thing? Well, it can be a good thing for your wallet. When product is made offshore, the cost in production is much lower. Canada's wage is much higher than countries like Mexico, Romania and China. Not to mention that fact that when we outsource production, we are employing people globally.
Can we change our “fast fashion” ways? It is hard to say. With the amount of jobs that “fast fashion” creates, would it be inhumane to cut those jobs? Fashion runs on change, so why not try to keep up with the constant demand? It would be difficult to even start “slow fashion” companies in Canada because our prices may not be as affordable and competitive than production that is out sourced. Attempting to go green may create jobs in Canada; however you are eliminating jobs and limitating processes that are opened up during “fast fashion” in under-developed countries. Fashion runs on change, through attempting to go “green” you are potentially cutting off larger volumes of clothing sales and company profit. How are companies going to profit?

Anna Wintour was once quoted saying that “Fashion’s not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward”. Right or wrong, the world of fashion is still moving. Will the world of fashion be able to change their ways? Will they be able to change fashion from fast to slow? The word “fashion” is all about staying current and keeping up with the trends. In order to be more “green” everyone will have to make an effort. As the fashion world continues to move forward, people will be more eco-conscious of their fashion choices. Anna Wintour is right.  The world of fashion is constantly moving forward; hopefully the “green” effort does to.

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