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Fast fashion's dirty little secrets

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Did you know that fashion has 52 micro-seasons in just one year? That’s approximately a different season every week! The days of just two fashion seasons a year (summer and winter) are long gone, but why do we have so many now? Fast fashion is the reason why.

We live in such a demanding consumerist society where we are encouraged to buy more and buy often to stay ‘on trend’. Considering there is a new fashion season every week, this means you’ll have to revamp your whole wardrobe weekly in order to keep up with the latest trends.

So, what actually is fast fashion? It’s cheap, mass produced clothing that moves quickly from the catwalk to the high street capturing the latest fashion crazes. The likes of Primark, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo all share this fast fashion title, which isn’t necessarily something to be proud of as it is the second largest industry contributing to pollution, with oil coming in first position.

The main problem with this type of industry is the massive turnover of clothing and throwaway culture that comes along with it. 300,000 tonnes of clothing are poured into landfill every year in the UK alone and most of these garments are non- biodegradable, meaning that they are left to sit there with no purpose and release toxic gases into the air.

Clothes are so readily available and cheap to buy nowadays that consumers see no problem with wearing something a few times and then simply chucking it away. Low prices are the main appeal, but you have to ask yourself how brands are able to sell them at these prices? This is one of fast fashions biggest dirty secrets as not only do firms exploit their resources, they exploit their workers as well. Workers are not paid or treated fairly and working conditions are beyond poor. So yes that £5.00 top from Primark is a bargain, but the person who made it has worked a 14-hour shift in a crowded, unpleasant working environment earning only £0.90 per day.

Transparency is key to combatting this issue as Adhil Rehman, senior ethical manager at ASOS, explains that “without transparency there is no accountability, and without accountability there is no change.” One organisation fighting for this transparency is Fashion Revolution which is a non-profit global movement that aims to change the fashion industry’s ways of sourcing, producing and consuming clothing. They have recently released their Fashion Transparency Index 2019 which is a complete review of the 200 biggest global fashion brands and retailers concerning transparency on sustainability, ethical and environmental policies. The highest scoring brands this year were Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia.

At V House of Apparel, we provide complete transparency and are proud to say that we operate conscious production with our factory based in Europe, complying with EU working conditions. This means that our workers are paid fairly, offered flexible working hours and work in a safe and pleasant working environment. Sounds simple right? But the harsh reality is most big fashion corporations exploit these measures and cut all costs where possible just to meet our demanding low-cost society. Transparency also stretches to the finicky details, including packaging and labelling, because the brand has to be as sustainable as the clothing it is producing. I’m sure most people have cut out that care label you always find on the inside of your T-shirt or tucked at the back of your leggings? More often than not, especially with activewear, these care labels are made from rubber plastic and even though they are really small, they are still an unsustainable element that is simply a waste of plastic!

Garments are also packaged and transported in plastic bags that are just thrown away once they’ve reached their destination and where does this all end up? Sadly, most of it ends up in the ocean or washed up on the beach. In fact, by 2050 it is estimated that based on weight there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish.

To battle this issue, the EU has recently commissioned a new rule to reduce the amount of marine litter by banning single- use plastic products and one of these products is plastic packaging. We are proud to say that we don’t use any plastic in our packaging or labelling. Our client’s custom labels and logos are printed directly onto the garments, hand tags are made out of card and paper packaging is used to send all our clients’ clothing. By using no plastic, we have reduced the amount of resources required, which not only reduces the cost but less elements needed means there is less to go wrong!

Nowadays consumers are becoming more concerned and aware of the ugly truths behind fast fashion, meaning that fairly made and sustainable collections are becoming the way forward. From our experience brands who have tried to compete with the fast fashion industry have not survived, as there is just too much competition. Yet, those who have made more expensive but higher quality and sustainable clothing have flourished.

So, if you’re looking to create a completely sustainable clothing collection, look no further as we’ve got you covered.

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