It’s not about the money

The weekend, food, fashion. We want everything faster.

Our little impatient asses have become so dependent on instant gratification, that we’ve never stopped to wonder what it’s really costing us. And who is really paying the price?

Today, both people and the environment suffer as a result of the way fast fashion is made, sourced and consumed. More often than not, we as consumers of fast fashion do not consider the detrimental effects our buying habits are having on a global scale. On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and 2,500 severely injured. The plaza was responsible for the manufacturing of many well known clothing brands in the Western world. To this day, it is known as the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.

The Fashion Revolution’s mission is to unite people and organisations to work together. Together we can change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that the clothes we wear are made in a safe, clean and fair way.

What are the differences between fast fashion and sustainable fashion?

Essentially fast fashion can be described as low margin, high volume, meaning it’s very quick to market. The quality is extremely low because it’s not made to last. So you can also think of fast fashion as disposable fashion.

Sustainable fashion takes into consideration the planet, with a focus on looking at the way people and animals are treated and environmental impact. Now more and more brands are adopting a holistic approach to their operations, whether it’s as specific as focusing on worker’s rights or being more sustainable overall.

Does sustainable fashion, meaning supporting local independent retailers have to be expensive?

I encourage individuals to ask themselves what they consider ‘value’. People need to reassess their cost per-wear basis and then, what they will define as cheap or not. If you buy a pair of $20 jeans, do you think they will they provide you with longevity to survive a whole year?

The fast fashion model always prompts you to keep buying, so you might end up buying three pairs of jeans in one month compared to one pair of really high quality jeans that you’re more likely to look after more and show more respect to. I think it’s a fallacy that fast fashion is cheap, in reality you’re never going to buy one $10 t-shirt a year. So just to recap, ask yourself what you consider to be ‘value’.

What does celebrating fashion as a positive influence mean?

It means celebrating your garments and the ability they have to make you feel good about yourself. Fashion is our second skin and crucial to how we feel about ourselves. Despite horrific events that have occurred in the garment industry, such as the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse in 2013, it’s not a dark industry, we want people to see it in more of a positive way. It’s about appreciating the work and people that allowed you to be wearing your garment.

Items of clothing can touch 100 sets of hands before it even arrives in a store. Fashion Revolution wants you to understand the process, because the more you are connected to your wardrobe, the more you can truly appreciate it. There’s so much for people to celebrate and lift themselves up, through fashion.

What changes need to be made for The Fashion Revolution to achieve its mission?

The fast fashion model is not sustainable and to put it simply, it’s broken. We argue that the system, the business model has to change.

There are a lot of independent, up and coming Australian fashion designers. Do you think it’s important for us to support them as much as possible?

Yes, totally. Buy local. Fostering local creativity is fantastic. Starting up from an ethical perspective, they’re starting up consciously, it takes a lot more time and it’s more expensive to go against the grain. Especially since we lost so much of our industry in the 80s.

This is a personal issue to me, however I feel a sense of guilt as I admittedly own a significant number of fast fashion pieces (H&M, Zara, TopShop). Do I need to get rid of my fast fashion pieces? What’s the first thing I can do to make a positive change?

We as consumers are just as responsible for driving fast fashion, as much as the brands that produce it. But, you don’t necessarily need to feel guilty. So the next time you are going to make a fast fashion purchase, have a think about the following:

1. Can you get 30 wears out of the pieces? #30wearschallenge If not, perhaps it’s not the best purchase to make.

2. Are you going to look after the garment the way it requires you to? Have a look at the label and how it needs to be cared for. We lose so many items of clothing because we don’t follow the care label rules. If it needs to be dry cleaned, are you going to dry clean it?

3. If you’ve decided to do a wardrobe cull, don’t immediately think you have to donate to high street charities. Before you initially decide to donate, consider local options like community groups. These community groups have a lot of great alternatives other than just reselling clothes. For example, there are even a lot of great alternatives that don’t involve donating as such. For example, clothing swaps are great to revive your wardrobe and give love to an item someone else has loved before you. If you have pieces that are ripped and stained, what can’t be sold is recycled, to ragging and insulation. Try to resist the impulse buy. At a deeper level we need to question the need. Never throw things out, dispose of them responsibly. Above all, never throw to landfill, donate to dominant charity groups, community groups and local charities.

What is The Fashion Revolution encouraging people to do?

Keep asking the brands #whomademyclothes. We know for a fact that it has led to brands addressing their consumers’ questions. It’s as simple as doing your research, there’s more info than people realise on brand websites. You just have to look for it.

Click here to join the Fashion Revolution.

Words by Amber De Luca-Tao

IG – @amber_wintour

Interview with Melinda Tually

IG – @fash_rev_ausnz

To find out more from Fashion Revolution, click here.

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