Why You Should Join The Slow Fashion Movement
”Seventy-five percent of fashion supply chain material ends up in landfills. This amounts to ‘the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles per second.”
— Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 Report
Prior to creating Indie & Isaac and becoming a slow fashion advocate, I was part of the fast fashion problem. It took me three years in a full-time sustainability role and a two year old son later, to understand the carbon footprint of my lifestyle, and it wasn't great. Luckily, I’ve woken to the problem and learned how to make more conscious choices.
While organic baby clothes and sustainable fashion is certainly trending, the global trajectory looks anything else but green. On average, people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000, but they only kept the clothes for half as long. Some brands like Zara put out 24 collections per year, while H&M offers between 12 - 16. 83 per cent of textiles end up in landfill, that is the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes every second. In addition, a 2017 report from the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35 per cent of all microplastics in the ocean comes from laundering textiles like polyester and that the fashion industry is responsible for 20 per cent of all industrial water pollution world-wide. Apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63 per cent in the next ten years, this is concerning because as of today only 1 per cent of all clothing produced globally gets recycled.
While these facts are scary and depressing, these impacts highlight the need for substantial changes in the industry, addressing topics such as labour exploitation, modern slavery, biodiversity loss, unsustainable sourcing of raw materials, water pollution and environmental degradation.
To understand what we as individuals and businesses can do to reduce our carbon footprint, promote sustainable fashion brands and look after the artisans making our clothes, we have to understand the problem:
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion can be defined as a model of mass-producing cheaply made, “of-the-moment” items that are sold at a lower price point.
It’s usually cheap, trendy clothing, produced at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand, so shoppers can snap them up while they are still “hot”, and then, sadly, discard them after a few wears. It plays into the idea that outfit repeating is a fashion faux pas, and that if you want to stay “in fashion”, you have to have the latest looks as they happen. This phenomenon can be seen in adults fashion as well as with kids clothes. It forms a key part of the toxic system of overproduction and consumption that has made fashion one of the largest polluters in the world.
The fast fashion model – which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption, and short-lived garment use, is fuelling environmental destruction and must be discarded, argues Kirsi Niinimäki, a professor of design at Finland’s Aalto University, in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.
What is Slow Fashion?
The last few years a wave of change has been sweeping through the fashion industry, powered by real truths about its implications on the planet, people and animals. An increasing number of sustainable fashion brands are rejecting the principles of Fast Fashion, as a more ethical approach to making clothes comes to the fore.
Slow Fashion encourages us to buy less garments at higher quality, made from more sustainable processes, less often. It also puts emphasis on the art of clothes making and celebrates the skills of the craftspeople who make them, some of which are sold in our shop, like Susukoshi and The Simple Folk.
Another term that is buzzing right now is 'circular fashion'. It was around 2014 when sustainable fashion first officially collided with the circular economy, resulting in the newfangled term of ‘circular fashion’. The term was first coined at a seminar in Sweden, where a more circular approach to the fashion industry was the core focus (opposed to the traditional linear economy of the make, use, dispose model.
While there is a growing support for slow or circular fashion, including organic baby and kids clothes, there is still a long way to go. To really support the circular economy model where there is no waste, we need to be a part of the growing movement of people looking beyond the “appeal” of the cheap, high turnover of fast fashion, and challenge not only ourselves but the entire industry.
Wear the change you want to see
Sustainable clothing is something that fulfils your kid's current fashion demands while keeping in mind someone else's future needs. Sustainable clothes should be sturdy enough to last through all your kid's jumps and tumbles they might encounter in their day, but soft enough to captivate their senses.
It also takes into consideration your child's health benefits of choosing certain fibres over others and takes into account where the product has been manufactured and who has made your clothes. With so many kids clothes online, purchasable in an instant, we can only solve our consumption conundrums by slowing down.
Slow fashion considers all of the below:
Second hand kids clothes: designed for longevity
Second-hand clothes shopping, a trend that is on the rise globally, has also been a primary contributor to sustainable fashion. Whether you keep your beloved piece for a potential second child or another child in need, you can be sure that – if manufactured ethically and crafted by hand – it should last at least one lifetime.
Organic baby clothes: pesticide use in cotton
There are dozens of pesticides used on cotton crops and about half of them have been named as possible or probably carcinogens by the EPA.
In fact, while cotton only makes up 3% of the total farmed land area, it accounts for 25% of the insecticides and 10% of the pesticides used worldwide, making it one of the most chemically treated crops. If you have a child with eczema, you want to look out for clothing made from the highest quality 100% organic cotton or other natural fibres like hemp or linen. These pieces are gentle on your child and also the environment.
100% organic cotton has no nasties, is breathable, soft and gentle (plus easy to care for!) but it requires still lots of water! (Read our Material Guide for more information)
Synthetic fabrics and microplastics
Many synthetic fabrics are made with petrochemicals, plastics and other substances that have been linked to endocrine disruption, hormone imbalance, and even potentially some types of cancer. Sound crazy? Think of all the problems with BPW, Phtalates, and of course microplastics which is a massive threat to marine life and humanity. Consider having those plastic chemicals in contact with your body’s largest organ for all or part of the day… every single day.
Let's combat mindless consumerism together
Sustainable fashion brands are already doing an unbelievable job paving the way for a more humane industry in which everyone is looking out for each other, on eye level. However, they can’t do it alone.
They need YOU to discover the power within you that is your choice of buying some brands and turning others down, or buy less and re-use, repair and up-cycle instead. You can help to raise awareness in demanding more organic baby clothes and a fair transition towards a green(er) industry.
At Indie & Isaac, we offer organic baby and kids clothing online that focus on creating a culture of sustainability by producing less from the onset. The sustainable fashion brands we work with are conscious of waste and most of these smaller, ethical labels work under an "anti-fashion" calendar, meaning they do not take part in the intense seasonal calendar and dozens of collections the bigger fast fashion retailers push out each year. Instead, they produce as needed and focus on gender-neutral, durable pieces that last at least one lifetime.