“Fast Fashion” vs. “Slow Fashion”
In a world of corporations who own mass chains of fast fashion brands, it’s easy to believe that fashion can never be tamed. Can we even imagine a world where Forever 21 didn’t have approximately 52 micro seasons per year? There’s an opposing variant, we can call it “slow fashion”, but could it ever be a viable movement? The fashion industry continues to grow day by day with new and already established brands constantly looking for new and innovative ways to grip the market. Here in Canada, we have many amazing start up brands from contemporary, sportswear, street wear, the forever-loved t-shirt brands and much more. When these brands evaluate where they would like to stand in the market, they must always take into consideration where they would be most successful; meaning making the decision of whether to go mass-production, low-end, moderate, bridge, or high end. The reality is that most of the competition is currently in the low-end and moderate clothing market. This is where most brands chose to be due to its stability and profitability.
We can say that today’s young adults are more consumer conscious, but we must take into consideration that not everyone can afford to be ‘environmentally friendly while shopping, some people can only shop for deals and sales. Let’s put it this way, if the consumer is an individual who loves to keep on top of fashion trends but doesn’t necessarily have the money to continuously buy pieces from the latest designer collections, they would rely on fast fashion brands such as Zara and H&M and Topshop, who continuously deliver trendy knock off items for their consumption. Aside from the trendy consumer, even consumers with a minimalist or basic style are now buying into the fast fashion world with companies like Uniqlo, which exploded into the market with their basic and cheap offers.
Does being a “slow-fashion” brand necessarily have to mean that you’d be behind on trends or have very little options to choose from? No, if we look at the term in another light, we would see that it comes with many beneficial things. If fashion were slower, we’d be more appreciative of our garments. It wouldn’t be so easy to throw things away; producing more textile waste. Yes, it may be more expensive but we would be buying less than we bought in the fast-fashion world. We would buy more of the things we need and less of that we want, because those things may be in one day, and out within less than a month. Although fast fashion is an obvious worldly problem, some do believe that we’ve been taken big leaps to better the industry, such as the use of natural dyes creation of new engineered dyes to replace chemical ones. None of this is really matters because the main issue is consumer over-consumption.
An interview was conducted with Canadian designer Ernest Adusei, founder of the start-up menswear-brand The New Black Apparel.
“Although it’s becoming more innovative and feels like it’s at a creative peak, I definitely believe that today’s fashion is innately un-green and not at all socially responsible.”
When asked what the meaning of sustainable fashion to him is, he stated “It’s the skill of producing quality items that are timeless. Because when an item is timeless, it will be used for a longer amount of time, which means—less environmental impact. Our preference here at The New Black is having an in-house production team, so that we can produce items to order. This ensures that we do not become fast fashion monsters”. We also asked; Does being a Canadian based brand make you feel the need to be more socially and environmentally responsible? Adusei says, “In a way, yes it does. Many start-up Canadian brands such as my own try to have their production and many other operations done in Canada. This way, they have some more control over how they can be as ecofriendly and socially responsible as possible. Also, our Canadian consumers appreciate it.”
The answer to the big question is, yes fashion is innately un-green. Fashion has been evolving over centuries, but in recent years, as these large fast fashion brands continue to pour out it has only been getting worse. As we already know, all of this fast fashion really takes a toll on the environment and more importantly, corporate social responsibility is barely being taken into consideration. Factory workers in third and second-world countries are still being paid in pennies and working in poor, and dangerous conditions. Toxic waste from chemical dyes are still being released into the waters and atmosphere, mounds of textile waste still grow as clothing over-production continues to take place. Not to mention, the textile industry is one of the top producers of waste in the world today, and as fashion gets faster, it gets worse.
Can young Canadians do something to stop this fashion catastrophe? Well yes, I believe it is possible; this is a viable movement, especially for Canadians who hold in high esteems the fact that we are known to be the peacekeepers of the world, the ones who ‘right their wrongs’. We can definitely “slow down” fashion. Firstly, Canadian grown brands that young Canadians look up to must take the first leap and change the way they operate. Brands such as Roots Canada, Canada Goose—they should make sure they are not over-producing and over-stocking their merchandise. This just send the message to consumers that it is okay to engage in these things. When larger and well-established brands begin to make changes, it is believed that the rest will follow, and fashion will move at a much slower and more comfortable rate, at last.