Feb 25, 2011

Fast Fashion Trauma

Being that we're designers who create designs from recycled materials, it was bound to come up at some point - fast fashion.
It's a relatively new term that's being thrown around a lot lately, and it's something that we've been noticing. I don't mean in blogs, I mean in reality.

Let me start by explaining what "fast fashion" is. Once upon a time, designers/dressmakers made quality clothing with style, which was meant to last people for years. Fabric was durable and items were sturdy. "Fashion" was only for the wealthy who could afford to buy new clothes all the time.

As time passed, the gap between the fashions of the rich and the garb of the common-folk blended so much that today we can't see a difference except (maybe) for who gets it first and the name on the tag inside.

Image by David LaChapelle: Death by hamburger

That's the world we live in today. Except there is a difference - you just have to pay attention. Take a look at your favorite Forever21 sweater from 2 years ago. Does it look as beautiful as the day you bought it? In my experience - no. 

Now see if you can dig up that one piece you have in your wardrobe that you couldn't resist splurging on. How long have you owned it? How many times have you worn it? It still looks beautiful, doesn't it?

So what happens to that Forever21 sweater after a season or two when you're sick of it? Most people just toss it in the trash. Others put a little more thought in and donate it to a charity shop. There's just one problem with that:


We love tearing apart a good old pair of faded Levi's, but even the most talented re-working won't make a discolored rayon rag desirable. Not only that, but it's becoming harder and harder for us to find quality materials to use in our designs. It's not like we're being too fussy - we try to stick to basics like 100% cotton, wool, *sometimes* rayon and if we're really lucky - silk or linen.

Problem is, the items that end up in charity shops and vintage stores are 99% polyester, nylon, acrylic, Lycra etc. They might look shiny when they're on the hanger in the store, but wash it once and you're pretty much done. 

I'm not saying I have the perfect solution, but I do ask the question - How can we make a difference? In all honesty, I don't do much shopping for clothes (I make pretty much make whatever I need). As a consumer, you have all the power. 

I don't want to lecture and preach, so I'll leave you with the following challenge:

Next time you're in Gap or TopShop or wherever, make a point of paying attention to the fabric content & washing instructions of whatever you're about to purchase, and ask yourself one thing:
"How many times have I spent X amount of money on an item that I had to throw out after 6 months?"
Think about how much money you could save by spending a little more now on something that will last you years instead.

You'd be surprised how affordable quality/designer clothing really is.


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