Shein London event 2022

Despite more awareness on the effects of fast fashion, the industry continues to grow | Source: Fortune

Why is Fast Fashion Still Growing in 2022?

Behind the glitz, glamour and unbelievably low prices of fast fashion, there lies a dark underworld of unethical working conditions and environmentally damaging manufacturing practices. The exploitation of workers, low wages, terrible conditions and large-scale pollution are among the never-ending list of harmful effects this burgeoning industry produces. And none of this is new.

We’ve known the detrimental effects of fast fashion for decades, so why in 2022, amidst an accelerating climate crisis, is the industry still rapidly expanding? Because despite the efforts of slow fashion and the re-sale market, statistics reveal the world consumes approximately 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, up a massive 400 per cent increase from two decades ago.

What’s more, much of this increase in production amounts to waste, and here in Australia, the pile of wasted clothing continues to grow. In fact, Australians dump about 31 kilograms of clothing and fabric waste every year.

ABC's War on Waste host Craig Reucassel standing on the amount of clothes that go to landfill every 10 minutes
ABC’s War on Waste host Craig Reucassel standing on the amount of clothes that go to landfill every 10 minutes | Source: ABC

And it’s not just landfill that the discarded pieces of fast-fashion contributes to. The waste produced from fast-fashion accounts for an estimated 10 per cent of global CO2 emissions. According to the UK’s House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.

Leading the fast-fashion pack is online retailer, Shein, which was recently in talks of a funding round valued at US$1 billion. The international e-commerce brand has been making the rounds on social media for its rapid production of clothes, garnering deserved criticism for its environmental footprint and poor work conditions. Shein has, in fact, developed an aggressive business model to ensure it is mass-producing exactly what consumers are demanding; and also what they’re not.

Shein uses digital management software to order new product designs almost instantly. It then waits to see how buyers respond and mass produces inventory that is selling well. With its huge international reach, the company has also inserted itself onto social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok and amassed a huge following. On TikTok alone, Shein boasts 4.1 million followers and a dedicated hashtag with 26.3 billion views. It’s plain to see; Shein has weaponised fast fashion.

The retailer has been hit with multiple infringement lawsuits from high-end brands including Ralph Lauren and also faces wide-ranging accusations of poor working conditions including 75-hour working weeks.

@shein_official Vibin with these fits ❤ @Kenzie Day ♬ Iskaba – Yahooze😕

So, knowing the power of these fashion giants, how do we combat their reach? The power consumers have lies in their ability to, first and foremost, consume less, and secondly, direct their demand elsewhere. By purchasing brands that are ethically certified and produce slow fashion, the end product will be clothing of better quality and also made ethically and with a lesser environmental footprint.

Here are six ethically-certified slow fashion brands worth shopping from.

Elle Evans

Swimwear and activewear brand Elle Evans uses only recycled and eco-friendly materials and also manufactures locally to minimise its carbon footprint.

The vibrant, summer colours of this brand are perfect for a day at the pool or beach.

Rag & Bone

Luxury label Rag & Bone is best known for its denim and urban wear. The New York fashion brand sells both everyday staples and more versatile office-wear.

In 2017, Rag & Bone formed a partnership with Cotton Incorporated, a not-for-profit funded by cotton growers, to launch a denim recycling program allowing customers to bring back their old jeans. This is known as the Blue Jeans Go Green program.

Alex Liquid Miramar High Rise Straight A$415 | Source: Rag & Bone
Amber Lyocell Trench, A$975 | Source: Rag & Bone

ADay

Based in New York, women’s wear brand ADay is OEKO-TEX & Bluesign approved to be using recycled and responsibly sourced fabrics. The sleek apparel is perfect for comfortable office wear and also includes loungewear and accessories.

Something Tailored Shirt A$245 | Source: ADay
Like A Boss Sweatshirt, A$245 | Source: ADay

Patagonia

Not only servicing all your outdoor wear needs, Patagonia is also Fair Trade certified and committed to using organic cotton and recycled materials.

The brand was one of the earliest big names in fashion to defend ethical production.

Women’s Retropile Marsupial A$199.95 | Source: Patagonia

Roopa Pemmaraju

Designed in New York and then produced hand-made by Indian artisans, the distinct and striking pieces offered by Roopa Pemmaraju is perfect for those who like to make a statement. Featuring eclectic colours, floral designs and a feminine flair, this brand is inspired by different cultures around the world.

Each garment is handmade and offers competitive wages to their artisans. Clothing is made from a range of ethically sourced materials including cotton, corn fibres and eucalyptus.

Velvet Wrap Strap Dress A$1,113.43 | Source: Roopa Pemmaruju
Designs from the Suncatcher Collection | Source: Roopa Pemmaraju

Coclico

This women’s footwear brand hailing from Spain produces wedges, boots, heels, sandals and clogs. Materials are responsibly sourced or recycled and include high-quality Italian leather, recycled cork and even wood in its designs.

The end result is elegant footwear, made for a number of occasions. The slow production of Coclico shoes mean there are limited quantities in each release, but ensure the ethical production behind the shoes.

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