Considering the speed that trends go in and out of style at and how easy it’s become for large companies to turn over new products to customers, we’re now in the golden age of fast fashion. Customers are placing a premium on bargain shopping, so the cheaper that clothes can be made and sold, the better. Inexpensive and often low-quality items make up the majority of current wardrobes - at a high cost for the environment.
I’ve read that the average American throws away roughly 81 pounds of clothes each year, which adds up to 25 billion pounds of textiles that make their way into landfills. While most of these clothes can be recycled, many end up in the garbage due to lack of proper disposal. Fast fashion thrives on the idea that clothing should be cheap and disposable, so mass production continues to occur for most items in the fashion industry that the majority of us have no real need for. This creates a vicious cycle where customers purchase cheap clothes that wear away, so then they buy more clothes, and companies produce in larger quantities.
In response to the increasing fast fashion business model, a new wave of companies has popped up and started to combat this mentality. The “slow fashion” movement was born out of the desire to shift to a quality over quantity mindset. These companies focus on producing fewer high-quality items rather than mass producing lower-quality products while staying conscious of their environmental impact. For example, at Mother Erth each and every one of our bags is handcrafted with the uttermost attention and detail and looks special and unique in its own way. Each bag also helps create a positive impact on the environment as our artisan workers weave these items using non-recyclable plastic materials. By creating products mindfully and applying environmentally and ethically conscious practices, there are opportunities for businesses to join the slow fashion movement and produce ethical clothing and accessories.
For a particular collection or season, small batch production and made-to-order products are great ways for companies to reduce their levels of production. By only making products that have already been ordered, companies can eliminate the possibility of storing excess quantities that go unsold and would eventually be disposed of. This method of production also enables companies to be more mindful of the waste that they produce from start to finish. Taking steps to reduce excess waste or transforming it into other products can help reduce a company’s environmental footprint.
Another great way to join the slow fashion movement is by producing through artisanal means. With expert craftspeople hand-making products, not only will lower quantities be produced, but each item will be made with extra detail and attention. While prices for artisanal products are generally higher for fast fashion items, being able to pay living wages to artisans working in ethically-sourced manufacturing is definitely worth the cost.
Despite the prevalence of fast fashion, the growth of the slow fashion industry is surely rising. Companies are becoming more environmentally aware and conscious of reducing waste. There are different initiatives that companies can take to join this movement and create a more positive impact on the environment by creating ethical clothing. It’s all about having a “less is more” mentality and applying these practices into your mission statement and means of production. We at Mother Erth believe that what you wear should make an ethical fashion statement that reflects your passion for a better world. You can read more about our mission here.