The biggest trend in the fashion industry over the past 30 years has been the rise of fast fashion.
In the service of profits large clothing brands have been selling cheaply produced clothes, while pushing new patterns and styles every season. Combined with marketing to push the fear of missing out, they’ve created an industry that thrives on disposability.
It’s easy to see why they’ve been successful. The average person can finally afford to feel like they’re on the red carpet with new looks every month.
While some products made by these large companies do have some durability, it was never the intent behind fast fashion. They use materials that aren’t designed to last but cut the bottom line. They use production methods designed to produce clothes quickly, and they employ the lowest cost labour they can find.
In the end it’s unsustainable and is already starting to have an impact on the environment, and the communities in which clothes are produced.
There are alternatives to the world of fast fashion. They’re more responsible, ecological, and sustainable. They’re also more expensive, and that’s okay.
Lower environmental impact
Every industry has an environmental impact. In the end it’s how companies deal with these impacts and do what they can to mitigate them. The fast fashion industry has been one of the worst. By using chemicals throughout the production cycle including fertilizer in the field, and treatments and dyes in the production of textiles, the industry affects the environment at every step with little to no offset.
Among responsible brands, one of the things they do to reduce their ecological footprint is to use recycled materials. This functions as kind of double duty through the reduction of new materials they need while also diverting discarded materials away from landfills.
However, recycling is dependent on the quality of the original textiles, but if those textiles are high quality the result is equally high. For Grounded People this has been among the primary source of textiles.
The other side of the equation is finding materials from organic sources.
Increased biodiversity is the most natural and sustainable methods of producing organic products. . It relies less on chemical pest control and allows for more native species of predatory insects to help in controlling pests feeding on crops. Increased biodiversity can also help control undesirable weeds and improves soil fertility.
By relying less on petrochemical products in fertilizers, treatments, and dyes, sustainability can be increased throughout the production chain. Ultimately this results in a better, stronger materials with a lower environmental impact when it reaches consumers. These materials also aid in producing more durable products that take longer to reach a landfill, or more importantly find a second life as a hand-me-down or are sent to a recycler to start over.
Higher social responsibility
Another important part of creating sustainable products is how they are being produced and who is producing them.
As it is now many factories making clothing products aren’t far off from the stories of sweatshops reported on in the late 1990s. Massive operations with hundreds and thousands of people working for low wages in substandard conditions. Even though this may lead to greater profits for the company, there is little incentive for factory employees to produce to a high standard.
With increasing focus on corporate practices overseas and improved abilities for workers to share stories with consumers over social media there has been greater transparency. However, most companies would still rather not discuss unethical treatment of employees among their partner factories.
Some companies go a step further by ensuring partner factories pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions for their employees. For Grounded People this has been a critical part of the process. It ensures workers can care for their families.
In return those employees care more about their jobs and ultimately the quality of the products they make is superior.
Grounded People has also partnered with charities around the world to go even further by contributing to social and environmental initiatives. These have helped to improve the lives of people in partner communities and help climate change in the places most affected by deforestation, rising temperatures, and fires.
Pay Now Save Later
None of this is to say there isn’t a cost. Sustainability costs more. It costs more for the brands working to make a difference, and it costs more for the consumers.
But, it’s worth it.
For the fashion industry the byproduct of focusing on ecology and sustainability is a higher quality, more durable product. You may not be rushing out to buy a new outfit every month or two, but also you won’t have to.
By focusing on classic designs that never go out of style and employing a sustainable ethos you’ll be looking sharp for a long time. It’s what Grounded People strives for in every product.