Modern life is fast. We live in an age where constant innovation in tech and the globalisation of consumer products seems only to exacerbate our already busy lives.
Fashion in the UK has also been touched by this modern phenomenon, becoming the latest victim in our pursuit of speed.
Competition in retail is one of the main causes of fast fashion as companies compete more aggressively for market share, through price, delivery and product lines.
Married with the adoption of e-commerce and social media, consumers’ appetite for new clothing has been rapidly growing, helped by the ease at which clothing can be viewed and bought online.
In a bid to simultaneously feed and tap into this demand, many fashion retailers have looked to speed up the delivery of their clothing lines as well as lowering prices to make the apparel more appealing.
The old cycle of introducing collections for the spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons has changed to more frequent weekly collections (micro-seasons) that encourage consumers to buy more to stay up to date with the latest trend.
Amancio Ortega – until recently owner of Inditex, founder of Zara – is the man accredited with developing the idea in the 1960’s. This revolutionary way of stocking shops cut out a lot of wastage caused by traditional seasonal selling and kept seamstresses in national sewing co-ops busy all year round. Generally it seemed to be a good thing socially and environmentally.
But as the model grew, and was adopted by more people, so did the problems which Amancio’s methods curtailed in the first place.
Now we find the environmental and social issues caused by fast fashion reaching chronic proportions.
While this might seem great for the consumer in terms of choice, the fashion retailers who are producing these speedy collections are putting more pressure on their suppliers to work faster to cut lead times.
With the majority of clothing made in the developing world, the ask of shorter lead times means factory employees are working increasingly long hours to keep up with the demand.
The big retailers are also bullying the owners of these factories. If they can’t achieve the cost, they want they’re threatened with using other factories.
Unfortunately, this often results in environmental procedures being sacrificed and issues like waste and water run-off not dealt with effectively, all in a bid to save the retailer money.
Furthermore, these items have an incredibly high carbon footprint as more clothing is shipped from the far east to Europe than ever before.
To make matters worse, the life-cycle of clothing is decreasing as buyers pick clothes to be worn just for a trend and disregard the longevity of the product and the materials used in their manufacture.
We want to put an end to the mindless conveyor belt that fashion seems to be stuck in, and instead, offer a slow fashion alternative.
In contrast to fast fashion, we’ve looked to design a collection with simple aesthetics that will endure, while using quality materials that are kind to the environment.