When buying clothes, do you only consider the style, color, price, and most of all the brand? Do you see clothing as a disposable item, one that you throw after several uses?
In fashion, there are companies that forecast colors and trends. These forecasts are sent to luxury brands, which produce the garments and release them as collections.
Forecasts also reach fast fashion brands, retailers that churn out more affordable versions of upscale designers’ clothes. Fast fashion stores are found in malls everywhere. Easily accessible, they are patronized by consumers, who get more bang for their buck with these less expensive iterations.
Thankfully, some fast fashion brands are taking the responsible and sustainable approach to doing business. For example, did you know that a shirt from Uniqlo is actually made from 100 percent plastic? Sure, it says cotton on the label, but actually the plastic that the brand uses are tiny fibers woven together to look like cotton.
Locally, one brand that is changing the game of fashion is PS The Label from Patricia Santos Atelier. It creates ready-to-wear pieces that are not only stylish but also sustainable. PS The Label uses mostly natural fiber, 100 percent cotton, 100 percent silk, and organza made of tiny strips of silk. Natural fibers are an insect repellant; they are also 100 percent biodegradable. Moreover, they support the slow fashion movement by producing styles and pieces in limited quantities.
Brand manager and sustainable fashion designer Tinni Garbes makes sure the label stays true to its mission. She’s the first and only Filipina to be part of the prestigious Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF).
People who think it’s cheaper to buy fast fashion, do not see the big picture.
Workers who produce the clothes for fast fashion brands usually come from poor and Third World countries, where labor is cheap. Some are paid an average of US$7 to US$9 a month. Moreover, work conditions are deplorable. In 2013, an eight-story building in the district of Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,134 and injuring over 2,000. The building included garment factories of many high-end and fast fashion brands, whose workers were told to return to their jobs the day after the tragedy happened. Knowing what you know now about these workers’ miserable conditions, ask yourself: Is that fast fashion shirt you’re eyeing really worth it?
Meanwhile, clothes that don’t get sold are burned. Luxury brand Burberry burned $37 million worth of apparel and makeup last July to ensure the items don’t get stolen or sold at a lower price. Burning clothes made of synthetic materials releases toxins in our land, water, and air, exposing plants, animals, and humans to deadly poisons.
Individual accountability is the new trend in fashion. We need to be responsible consumers and be aware of the impact and far-reaching effects of our choices.
Suddenly, wearing something once, twice, thrice, or as often as you like, is a good thing–a statement on sustainability and saving the environment.
News flash! Fashion is not really about looking good, it’s about feeling good–and being good to yourself and all around you.