The Future of Fashion #2: Sustainable Practices in the Age of Fast Fashion

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Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending The Future Of Fashion #2: Sustainable Practices In The Age Of Fast Fashion, held at Coco-Mat, a mattress store that makes sustainable beds. It’s quite fascinating pieces of furniture and it actually costs less than a Tempur-pedic mattress. The event  presented a panel of speakers, consisting of Timo Rissanen, Anthony Lilore, Amy DuFault, Owyn Ruck, Elizabeth L Cline, and moderated by Carmen Artigas. The discussion was centered around how sustainable fashion can be mainstream and the effect that fast fashion is having on consumers.
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Fast fashion is classified as the items produced by large chains, like H&M, Zara’s and Forever 21. These stores have nixed the idea of  the traditional two deliveries, Spring and Fall, in favor of monthly and some weekly deliveries. They cater to consumers who want fashion cheap. One can get a variety of items and always stay on trend. On the surface, this seems awesome. However, the problems with this model are many. The main one being that this system feeds the consumer’s need for new items much like an addiction. The consumer is encouraged to constantly replace items, leading them to discard their perfectly use-able garments. This devalues clothing. It leads the consumer to believe that clothing should be easily replaced. It also makes them lose touch with the real value of the clothing. When one buys a T Shirt for $10, the question of how much the workers who made that garment are earning should arise. The  companies usually outsource labor to places where regulations are less stringent and drastically under-valued, allowing them to artificially keep prices low.
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The question of how to make sustainable fashion mainstream arose. The panel discussed the idea of making mainstream fashion sustainable. H&M is currently leading in their use of organic cotton. The movement to make mainstream clothing sustainable will change the customer’s perception of the value of clothing. If mainstream brands charge realistic prices for clothing and become more transparent about why they are doing this, customers will be led to pay these prices and value their clothing much more.
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Encouraging customers to buy sustainable fashion was compared to sneaking a kid his vegetables, by one of the panelists. Designers must produce clothing that is attractive, first and foremost. If the consumer isn’t drawn to it and doesn’t want to wear it, the sustainability aspect won’t make them purchase the item. Sustainability should be an added bonus for consumers who shop mainstream fashion.
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Events like this one forces one to think critically and carefully about clothing choices.

2 thoughts on “The Future of Fashion #2: Sustainable Practices in the Age of Fast Fashion

  1. Hi Tabitha,
    Thanks for the wonderful write up of the event, great to have you there! Keep in touch and we hope you can join us at our upcoming events (meetup.com/Be-Social-Change-New-York)
    Warm wishes,
    The Be Social Change team

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