The need for sustainable fashion more than ever. However, to understand this need for sustainable fashion we need to dig the surface of fashion. In the 18th century, raw materials had to be sourced by an individual and then turned into textile material through the weaving process. During the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution, a significant lead was taken, bringing in machinery and clothing shops custom-made clothes for each customer. Thus, Sweatshop culture got its start. Unfortunately, these factories employ large numbers of workers in inhumane working conditions for inexpensive labour, resulting in various accidents, they represent everything sustainable fashion is against.
A fire broke out in a garment factory in New York in 1911, killing more than 146 workers, most of them were women. Clothing became so popular in the 1960s and 1970s that it was used to determine an individual’s identity and position based on the gowns and accessories. In that era, the terms “high fashion” and “street fashion” were widely used, sustainable fashion was rarely used. Several times, the need for clothing arose. The indoor, outdoor, sports, party, bridal, pregnancy, and lingerie collections grew along with summer, winter, and sleepwear.
This raised the demand for more textiles, global sourcing, various fabrication processes, and low prices causing an opposite of what we call sustainable fashion. Cheap labour was critical, and developing countries like India and Bangladesh were allowed to inflict self-inflicted wounds due to this possibility. In the sector, there was a lot of high output and low wages and poor working conditions, long working hours, sexual harassment, and child labour.
The civilians seized this job-creating sector without hesitation in a community where employment was scarce, and agriculture dwindled. The only option accessible to those people, most of whom are women and children, is to work hard for money. This was accepted as the norm in these sweatshops until the most significant crash occurred one day.
On April 24, 2013, a regular day began in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, which houses the world’s largest garment business on an eight-story commercial structure. They had previously informed them that the system had flaws and was unsafe to work in. Workers, on the other hand, have been obliged to begin the day. The building collapsed, killing 1134 people and injuring 2500 more. This was the first time that issues about the quality of life and labour wages were brought to the forefront. People began to inquire about the wages paid for a $5 t-shirt. Fast fashion took on a new dimension between 1990 and 2000, thanks to brands like Zara and H&M.
Consumer behaviour today
Textiles are associated with every mood, situation, and stage of life in today’s world. Unfortunately, people become self-obsessed with these material items due to the marketing technique, which promises that buying new clothes heals mental depression and that wearing new garments for even the smallest of life events is required. To add fuel to the fire, the internet is trending social influencers who upload ‘Unboxing,’ ‘new hauls,’ and ‘first impression videos,’ along with the emotional impact on their viewers, making them subject to excessive spending to meet unmet demands.
Discount sales, annual clearance sales, end-of-season sales, one-for-one deals, buy two, get one free, vouchers, gift certificates, and redemption points have turned clothing shopping into a habit rather than a purposeful activity for many people. This second skin, which can be chosen, has a long storey to tell and is more than simply a piece of cloth. People are highly illiterate.
By 2017, 235 million pieces are expected to be discarded in the UK, which is against sustainable fashion. Excessive shopping culture, rapid fashion, and low-quality clothing are all contributing factors to the current scenario, hence the need for sustainable fashion is real. Every year, this figure is likely to rise. Landfill contamination is now being added to the existing worries about air and water pollution in the current environment. Consumer awareness has increased dramatically in recent years. The phrases “choose wisely,” “buy less,” “make it last,” and “less is more” are all familiar.
On the other hand, production has gotten a lot of attention because it uses a lot of water and chemicals. For example, 300 kilos of chemicals are used for tanning 900 kilogrammes of animal skin. The sector thrives on dangerous chemicals, and the government has finally provided a platform for serious action through finances and policies. The Green Peace Revolution has hurt the textile sector. The Detox Campaign aims to determine the level of toxins in textile and fashion items.
Fashion Revolution and the hashtag “Who Made My Clothes” were so popular that they were given a significant boost in terms of providing value and a human touch to the product, hence promoting sustainable fashion. The Clean Clothes Campaign and the Fair-Trade Organization promote the labourers’ quality of life, pay, working hours, safety, women’s care centre, and child support.
Two faces of the coin ‘Fashion.’
According to estimates, in research examining shopping habits in America from 1980 to the present, Shopping has surged by five times. Every year, it imports 1 billion pieces of clothing from China. Likewise, according to estimates, clothing consumption in the United Kingdom climbed by 37% between 2001 and 2005. These are critical facts to consider as pollution that will soon wind up in a landfill.
Textiles make up 5-6 per cent of a city’s population; this is a severe concern because it includes materials that do not dissolve and will continue to grow year after year. Last Week, Detox: How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion, The Business of Fast Fashion Tonight with John Oliver, Rapid Fashion: Sweatshops and Tonight with John Oliver are two of the best YouTube films that will help a newbie comprehend fast fashion.
The reason for this is that conventional fashion seasons are four: summer, autumn, winter, and spring; yet, with today’s “quick fashion,” apparel is updated every four to six weeks, with some updates occurring in between, unlike sustainable fashion. So, every time they visit the store, they are given a notion of a new product, a new presentation, and they seek the same excitement—this low-cost, low-quality item.
Fast fashion can be defined as low-cost, low-quality apparel that will soon be discarded, basically everything that sustainable fashion is against. They primarily target the mass market and are produced in large quantities. It is a retail company idea that denotes design from ramp walk to trend in a swish. This principle is extended by the fact that merchandise goes at the same rate to the trash can. Popular retailers such as H&M, Zara, C&A, Peacocks, Primark, Xcel Brands, and Topshop follow this idea of speedy production at a low cost.
Fast fashion is characterised by low-quality products that have a significant detrimental impact on the environment. A new product is presented to the market, and once it has reached saturation, the next is introduced to the market. Primark, for example, attracts repeat customers because of its visual merchandising, which serves as an instant bridge in building a visual attraction.
Because 75% of customers make a purchase decision within three seconds of seeing what is on display, it drives customers happy since they are exposed to a new range of clothing. In addition, the prospect of purchasing it at a lower price is psychologically appealing. Thus, it provides a sense of accomplishment as well as a stress reliever.
Companies that follow the quick fashion model sell 15% more than their competitors of sustainable fashion. Manufacturing time is short, and the cost is low. Fast fashion has been embraced by top brands such as Zara and H&M. Zara, for example, is a global leader in shortening the time between concept and production. Zara can produce 30,000 textile items each year and distribute them to 1,600 outlets in 58 countries because of fast fashion. Two times a week, new clothes (stock) are updated. Every two months, a new minimal collection is released.
Each comes with a different tag, design theme, and colour concept; this allows customers to return frequently to appreciate the display and promote ideas for purchasing more. But unfortunately, fast fashion depletes natural resources and depletes the environment, so the need for sustainable fashion is real .
Shopping used to be a once-in-a-while activity. People nowadays look for clothes to buy as a stress reliever. The internet, which is littered with hashtags such as OOTD (Outfit of the Day), creates a sense of pressure among the adolescent age group to purchase the current trends and create fresh looks. Increased clothes consumption has spread like a sickness as a result of people sharing images and keeping track of how many likes and comments they get. Slow fashion is gradually engulfing and replacing quick fashion. Lingerie, specialty apparel, and children’s wear are highlighted, as well as dresses for outwear, sportwear, and other occasions.