March 30, 2020

Save Points — Sustainability and Fast Fashion

Amid the climate crisis, the fast fashion has industry has inevitably found itself in the crosshairs for its lightning-fast seasonal turnaround and disproportionate impact on the environment. During our first Open Office on fashion and its future, a few members of the MAEKAN community and the team shared their thoughts.

The Community’s Take

⚖️Jeremy L. weighs the importance of consistency in brand messaging when it comes to fashion in general and overtly sustainable fashion:

“I just think there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with wanting to have a form of self-expression through clothing. And if that means buying certain things in moderation, I think that’s reasonable. But I don’t buy when brands tout a sustainability model when they’re constantly floating new seasons.

And I, that’s why I kind of appreciate what Noah’s doing and admitting outright in their promotion that, you know, we are not a sustainable brand, but here’s our transparency in terms of like where we make the clothes.”

👜 Aladar L. shares how the interpretation and approach to sustainability can start with us at the social circle level:

I think it very much so falls into your friend circle. My buddy, we’ve been passing the same visvim bag back and forth. He bought it second-hand and he used it. He passed it to me. And chances are when I’m done, I want to pass it to someone else.

But it’s a behavior that’s just normalized in our friends circle group, right? Like I think part of it is education and nobody feels shame. In fact, everyone feels that type of behavior is, for the lack of better words, “cool.” Like, it’s very cool when we do it and we’re just like, “this is nice ’cause it feels good.”

🐣 James M. considers the chicken-and-egg issue of consumer or political will creating lasting impact on fast fashion markets:

“The debate at the end of the day is like, can we rely on them (political candidates) or is voting with our buying power the more important thing that we can try? But then you have too many people that might not necessarily have the same belief system, whether it’s government or their buying power.

And if, if people continue to buy cheap, then it might not necessarily change anything. A lot of it boils down to dollars and cents on the manufacturing side. You see a kind of every day and people are more willing to save a little bit to get their customer the purchase versus like charge a little bit more and have kind of feel like maybe they’re missing out on customers, you know?”

From our end

🤔 Eugene wonders specifically how fashion will emerge out of the pandemic:

“We’re perhaps in the midst of both the establishment of a new normal and a realignment of the world of fashion. We will inherently need to see if the past structures of seasonal shows, global trips to see things in real life, and even the value of clothing-only fashion continue to hold true. I really think a lot of people have come to realize that fashion itself while important, is far LESS important than we are all led to believe, especially without the element of interaction. I would like to seel the emergence of clothing and fashion that’s slower, more thoughtful, more ethical, and returns to the core of being a creative medium, and not purely as a means to an end.”

🔥 Scott is loving the fallout:

“Like Nero fiddling whilst Rome burned, I’m loving how much this industry is suffering. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for those most affected, namely the sweatshop workers, children and exploited immigrants working for pennies making those ugly ass Triple S’ (or equivalent) hypebeasts find fashionable. Fashion won’t be alone in feeling these setbacks. 

Having said that, it’s a beautiful sight to see companies that have done nothing for their employees or the environment take a huge hit. We know how disastrous fast fashion is for the environment, our wallets and mental states. I hope this will push brands to entirely re-think their fashion cycles along with their design teams. Since people will hopefully stop spending frivolously on the latest bullshit “it” item, solid and innovative designs will need to take center stage for brands to move forward. 

No more crappy H&M knock-offs of underserved designers, no more wasted discount racks, no more employees exploited across the world to make an ugly-ass teeshirt that some blogger will call “iconic”, as is everything these days. Hopefully, fashion is reborn, reinvigorated and re-innovative from the onset.”

🤷🏻‍♂️ Nate thinks there’s several layers of cultural barriers to get through before people ditch fast fashion:

“There’s a triangle of style, price and function that’s allowed fast fashion to maintain its firm hold in popular consumer culture: it’s always new enough to be on trend, easy to maintain and cheap enough to dispose of often. For consumption (and therefore the demand for production) to drop, we need to both be willing to pay for and maintain a smaller number of high quality clothes while dropping our assumptions attached to wearing and seeing the same outfits regularly.”

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