Australia is a little Fashion-occupied at the moment. With the opening of H&M and the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia in full swing, news feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram seem saturated with updates and #MBFWA.
But on Thursday, something a little different took place at Carriageworks: Clean Cut showcased a movement in fashion that is picking up momentum and driving change.
Exhibiting the best designers, with strong ethical production and stunning aesthetics, Clean Cut is connecting Australia with a global movement away from Fast Fashion and towards a more sustainable future.
So what exactly is Fast Fashion?
It is to shopping what the burger and fries combo deal at Maccas is to restaurant dining. Instead of purchasing timeless, well-made pieces, consumers are opting for cheaper and low-quality items.
The problem is, while the price tag might only say $49.95, this is rarely an accurate reflection of the true cost of the garment. There are hidden environmental and social costs that no one is talking about, because no one can see them. They are hidden behind glossy marketing campaigns, in the back of developing nations.
Remember the Rana Plaza disaster last year where 1,200 garment workers were tragically killed when it collapsed? They were making clothes for UK brands such as Mango and Primark. And if you’ve shopped in any of these stores, you will know, there is nothing slow about the rate in which new styles are added to the floor.
Here in Australia, it is astounding how rapidly stock is turned over in stores. Instead of having four seasons of fashion, there are over 400 new items each month in Witchery, while Topshop releases a staggering 300 styles a week. Fast Fashion giant Zara has a short 13-day turn around between design conception and being placed on coat hanger in a store. Just 13 days.
With these kinds of demands and retailers competing to be the cheapest and quickest, all the pressure is placed at the end of the supply chain.
Men, women and children, who are earning very little, if anything at all, work long days, cutting, sewing and dyeing. And meanwhile the products they are using, from the cotton to the dyes are full of harmful chemicals and pesticides, are infecting them and our environment.
So what can we do about it? Glad you asked.
As consumers, we have a lot of power. It’s called our money, and where we choose to spend it. Here are a few top tips for doing your bit for humanity and the environment when we shop.
1. Choose carefully: Buy one well-made piece each month, instead of several items. Instead of purchasing several cheap jackets that stay in fashion for as long as Beyonce has the same hair style, invest in a beautiful coat that will last you all season.
2. Recycle: Don’t throw out your old clothes. Pop them in a charity bin instead. They’ll either end up clothing someone who can’t afford to shop, or they’ll go into an op-shop that will raise money for its charity work. Win-win!
3. Buy ethical, fair trade and organic: There are so many labels around now that offer this option. Check out some of the labels that were featured to at Clean Cut:Kowtow, Desert Designs, Rachael Cassar, Lalesso, The Social Studio, Bhalot and Indigo Bazaar.
4. Research: Ethical Clothing Australia provides a comprehensive list of who’s doing what so you can make more informed consumer choices.
And finally, enjoy that sense of altruism mixed with delight when you purchase something that is helping keep the planet beautiful, and its people happy.
Want to see just how good sustainable fashion can be? Check out the gallery below…
Optimistic of the future and confronted by reality, Bethany is a passionate advocate for social change and sustainable living. She also loves adventures.
Do you try to buy ethical fashion? What are your favourite ethical brands?