Building sustainability in sourcing and manufacture across the international textile industry

January 31st, 2016

Fast Fashion V Environment

At the turn of the millennium I was an Englishman living in the US, working for an international corporation, manufacturing branded apparel. I soon learned the difference between our two cultures.

Britain had high-end, mid-range and low-cost clothing in stores, which lined up with disposable income levels – wealthy, middle-of-the-road, lower income – and people dressed accordingly.

The US had, in the main, just high-end  and low-cost. In the US, the customer was prepared to pay a lot of money for the high value merchandise, but would also expect an abundant supply of ‘disposable’ clothing. This applied at all income levels and dress rarely reflected wealth.

Mid-range was a foreign concept – the US, quite simply, associated high-end pricing with department stores and low-end pricing with volume stores.

Now, in 2016, Britain too is tilted towards this thinking

Supermarkets and value stores pile it high and sell it cheap – department stores and independents seek inspiration and cool branding to maintain higher pricing.

And stores such as M&S, who’ve been pulled around for almost two decades, must endeavour to maintain domination of the elusive mid-range product market.

Fast Fashion – supply and demand

Environmental organisations point out that volumes of consumption in the fashion industry are rising fast and show no signs of easing.

This is why the fashion industry now ranks 2nd place, right behind oil and gas, as the worst cause of pollution in the world.

Many products are being made in countries with weak controls on pollution and no effective labour laws, information is now surging about poisons, pollution and sickness.

Regardless, the demand for Fast Fashion continues.

And, as pre-warned since 2010… our waste landfills will be full by 2018.

How do we solve the Fast Fashion V environment problem?

The Challenges –

Accelerate the design and development of raw materials and styling that produce less waste and less pollution during the manufacturing process.
Source 100% recyclable materials.
Re-educate the consumer into looking beyond the instant gratification of Fast Fashion.
Appeal to people to put ‘the bigger picture’ first.