So When Did Clothes Go From Being Durable... to Disposable?
Fast fashion is going out of, well, fashion. And we think it’s about time too.
Despite being a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers and clothing companies, the natural world is suffering because of our consumer choices. Fashion, and in particular what has been coined as ‘fast fashion’, is a seriously guilty party.
In fact, according to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the average number of times a piece of clothing is worn before it becomes obsolete has decreased by over a third - 36% - compared to 15-20 years ago. Every second the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill. Today, only 4% of consumers in the UK say they ‘only’ buy from sustainable fashion brands (Statista).
But slowly… slowly… awareness is rising. Amid dire warnings from scientists, leading environmentalists and sustainability pioneers about the state of our precious planet, the world has started to wake up to a growing realisation that everything ultimately has a human cost. From fair wages paid for fair work, to the devastating effects the changing planet has all over the world - customers are beginning to demand more from their brands. But are they ready to answer?
How can things change? Well, first, we think that change needs to come from within the fashion industry itself. By holding ourselves accountable for where, and how, we manufacture and source our clothing, and how we treat our makers and the respect we show our supply chain - we can be the change we want to see.
What is Fast Fashion and Why is it a Problem?
In the early 1990s a new phrase started to be whispered in fashion circles - ‘fast fashion’. It was a phrase first used by the New York Times to describe high-street fashion chain Zara’s mission to revolutionise the time taken for a garment to go from design to the shop floor. Zara’s aim? A 15 day turnaround. And it was achieved. The fashion industry had a new trajectory - and a new holy grail.
Now, in the 2020’s, fast fashion has transformed into the beast known as ‘ultra-fast fashion’.
Constantly adding new styles at cheap prices, ultra-fast fashion brands are feeding our addiction to over consuming clothes. The cycle of buy-wear-dispose is difficult to break, especially when faced with an onslaught from social media and advertising and the sheer amount of choice easily available from multiple sources. From online stores to high-street chains, designer duping has become the norm. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the minute a design is seen on the catwalk, or an influencer, copycat designs are rapidly produced. Today, things show no signs of slowing down. The global fast fashion market is expected to grow from $99 billion in 2022 to over $133 billion in 2026 - an annual growth rate of 7.7%.
Inevitably, selling cheap clothes means someone down the line is suffering. With reports of workers being exploited, severely underpaid and in some cases physically harmed, the human impacts of the fashion industry cannot be ignored.
The good news is that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their clothes come from - and that someone is making them. But faced with the temptation of a new outfit every weekend, and designs that leap onto fly-by-night trends, the gap between our good intentions and our shopping habits is still huge.
How do we slow things down - but feed our appetite and desires for beautiful clothes?
Let’s Make Our Clothes Last
“If you try to create something people enjoy, and it happens to be made in a responsible way, then that's when you can really strike an incredible balance.” Stella McCartney
Here at In Our Name we’re into long term relationships with our clothes. And we’re definitely into making things that last. One of the biggest issues that shoppers find with any kind of fast fashion is that the clothes just don’t last - and as they’re so cheap to replace, as soon as that seam pops or a zip fails, it’s in the bin before you can say ‘Boohoo’...
A lot of modern clothing is simply just not made for durability. Super-fast production methods means that designs just don’t hold up to a lot of wear and stress testing of garments made cheap’n’fast just doesn’t exist. Cheap synthetic fabrics keep prices low but there’s a high environmental cost when a lot of it goes to landfill after minimal wear.
It’s estimated that the equivalent of one bin-lorry full of textiles is either burnt or sent to landfill every second. Sustainable fashion designer Stella McCartney has often spoken out passionately about textile waste: “Right now, less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, meaning 99% of all textiles and fashion are waste… And that’s about 100 billion dollars worth of materials wasted each year. It’s crazy!”
But the endemic of clothing waste isn’t just down to quality alone. Style durability as well as physical durability is absolutely key. Research shows that the average item of clothing is only worn 14 times - in 2019 The Guardian reported that a third of younger women regarded an item worn only once or twice as old…
Timeless design is a trait that needs to be woven into the fabric of a garment, both figuratively and literally. If your clothing fits into your lifestyle, is versatile and made well, you’ll always find yourself reaching for it time and time again. If you love it - you’re going to want to wear it!
According to a recent WRAP report, it’s clear that designing for durability or longevity is the single largest opportunity the fashion industry has to reduce water waste, fabric waste and carbon footprints our clothing demands.
Buy Less, More Carefully and Feel Good
But, this isn’t designed to be a holier-than-thou doomsday warning. This is more than that. It’s our way of celebrating the fact that we have choices. Choices in the way we buy, choices in the way we view the things that we buy and choices in what, and how much we consume. Clothes aren’t everything, we get that. But we also know how good the perfect outfit can make you feel. When your new dress just feels good, that perfect print that brings joy to your day - pulling out your go-to favourite jumper from the wardrobe…
We’re here for classic luxury tailoring in vibrant, sustainable fabrics to make clothes that bring timeless style to your wardrobe with pieces you want to wear again and again. We’re here for feeling good in your clothes. We’re here for bold and fearless prints, wearable shapes and high-quality clothes designed to last.
We are definitely not here for fast fashion, irresponsible manufacturing and exploitative supply chains. The only way to bring lasting change is to commit to change. Whether that takes the shape of prolonging the lifespan of our clothes and manufacturing with responsibility and ethics, or minimising our impact on the planet, or all of the above, we do have choices.
So choose sustainably when you shop and join us in the slow fashion revolution.
We are the change. Made for the future. Made to be sustainable in every aspect of our business. Made In Our Name.
Our latest collection joyously and unapologetically celebrates our beliefs - good design, done well, to do good. With eco-dyes that use less than half the water of traditional methods, sustainable fabrics, and timeless design - we know you’ll love them as much as we do - check it out here.
Want to read more about fast fashion? Here are a few links: