It has already been 4 years since the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh! What are the after-effects on our way of consuming fast-fashion?
Looking fashion = looking good?
Created after the catastrophe, the movement Fashion Revolution has made many operations to raise people awareness about the consequences of fast-fashion industry . Change our way of consuming fashion is challenging: buying things has become easier and faster with online shopping, the rise of more and more YouTubers telling you what are the “must-have” in clothing, bags, make-up leads you to extend your wish list, collections are continuously increasing (more than 20a year for Zara and up to 16 for H&M according to The Economist) and the crave for having posts/pictures/videos liked is going stronger.
Sustainability, as a driver for fashion
In The state of fashion, the first joint report from McKinsey and the Business of Fashion, we learn that “2016 can be summarized in three words: uncertain, changing, and challenging” by fashion executives around the world. Among the fashion industry trends of 2016, the report highlights that “[…] Consumers and brands have prioritized sustainable fashion, which is transforming product design and manufacturing”, with “more than 65% of emerging market consumers [who] actively seek sustainable fashion versus 32% or less in mature markets”. What to expect for 2017? According the report, “the shrewder shopper will be characterized by 6 main qualities: better informed, always “on”, more demanding, more conscious, more volatile, connected to others.”
Aware of such trend, many new ethical brands have spread over the market. Besides the brands I usually quote (TOMS, Veja, Faguo, Ekyog, Hamilton Perkins, WWoW etc.), there are also Reformation (2009), Matt & Nat (1995), Birdsong (2014), Le Bijou Parisien (2015), and online boutiques such as Rêve En Vert and Gather & See, which are collecting all ethical brands in one place.
What about consumption?
Labels or certifications such as B-Corp or Fair Wear Foundation may increase as much as “shrewder consumers” increase. Fair Wear Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization, who “works with brands and industry influencers to improve working conditions where your clothing is made” through verification and keeping track of improvements made. However, the best solution seems to be buying smarter, by buying less and sustainable and or recycled items…
The new mall model
According to Global Footprint Network, in 2013, our planet only had enough resources for each of us to consume 1,72 “global hectares” (gha) per year – a standardized unit that measures resource use and waste. 1,39 corresponds roughly to what the average person in Africa consumes. By contrast, in other regions of the planet, people consume about 2,31 gha per person in Asia, 4,32 gha per person in Europe, 8,6 gha per person in North America, many times their fair share. Time to change you think? In Sweden, the first shopping mall ReTuna Återbruksgalleria selling recycled or upcycled products, objects, furniture and garments has opened in 2015, thanks to a partnership with the municipality. A great compromise between making business and better consumerism. We may find recycled Ikea bags for sale!
Teaching the young ones by doing
Better consumption, eating organic, ethical values are spread more and more through films (like the last Disney, Moana) and ads to teach the young ones how to better consume. The recent Carrefour campaigns are answering children’s questions about consumption by raising their awareness about sustainability issues: “why we should not give antibiotics to chicken?”, “why we should not give GMOs to animals?”, “why local products are better?”.
Books are also a good way to convey messages and values. Be the Change Books are a series of children’s books about environmental issues, each with a funny story and clear pointers to what we can all do, or here the story of Petite Plume about solidarity. Other means: toys! Sonia Singh, a Tasmanian artist improves discarded dolls by repairing them and giving them a “new down-to-earth style”, at such a point that little children prefer to play with the upcycled Tree Change Dolls rather than the original ones. Wendy Tsao went further by changing the dolls into heroes like Jane Goodall, Malala Yousafzai, J.K. Rowling, Roberta Bondar or Waris Dirie.
Convinced to be ethical-fashion addict?