Clothes and accessory shopping used to be an occasional event – something that happened a few times a year when the seasons changed, or we outgrew what we had. Clothes shopping used to be a call for necessity and practicality, though within the last 20 years the fashion industry has drastically changed. They became cheaper, trend cycles sped up, and shopping became a form of entertainment and leisure. That much loved dress that Charlize Theron strutted down the Red Carpet in, is finally obtainable and a hell of a lot cheaper than the originally designer gown. All the daggy overworn jumpers are tossed to the side as we introduce polyester woven garments to our wardrobe; time and time again. New stores popping up left, right and centre offering the newest, high fashion clothing at the cost of some loose change in the bottom of our wallets. And, as the opportunity arises to nip back into the store to purchase that $5 shirt you had your eye on, there is a whole new collection of clothing for sale.
So much choice. So many options. So many designs. So cheap. So destructive. Something needs to change.
While Fast Fashion offers exactly what humanity wants, the impacts are definitely not what we need. The impacts of Fast Fashion are devastating to the Earth’s environment and ecosystem as we cut corners to reduce the cost of production and speed up the process. On average, the fashion industry produces 400% more clothes than 20 years ago and falling victim to the monster in the closet, consumers on average only wear a piece of clothing 7 times before discarding it. Shocking! From toxic dyes polluting our waters to polyester derived from fossil fuels contributing to global warming, these are just a couple examples of the impacts of Fast Fashion. As we introduce more and more items to our wardrobes we have to spare some room, which means that the rate of disposal is at an all time high as mountains of textiles and product waste form within landfills. In the US, it is believed that 35kg of textile waste is generated by one person every year...putting that into perspective it equates to more than 15 million tons each year. Globally it is believed in 2015, the fashion industry was responsible for creating 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gasses, which is more than all of the international flights and maritime pollution combined. The fashion industry also exploits its employees, more often or not forcing young children to work 14-16 hours per day, 7 days a week in atrocious dusty conditions.
These shocking statistics are a small snippet of the horrifying reality that is the fast fashion industry. As the rate of Fast Fashion increases, so do the devastating impacts on our environment… this doesn't have to be the case. We do have the capability to reverse the damage caused by simply changing some small factors about the way we shop for our luxuries. By purchasing products from sustainably driven brands you are ensuring a more environmentally friendly future for the global community.
Slow Fashion is a term used to spread awareness of ethically made garments within the fashion sector, taking into consideration processes and resources required to make the product. The term mainly focuses on sustainability and involves purchasing better quality pieces that are more durable and produced in places of positive work ethics. It encourages us to buy less garments at higher quality, made from more sustainable processes, less often. It also celebrates the talents and craftsmanship of the people who make them.
We are human and sometimes our wants outweigh our needs, and that is ok, but the need for change is here and it starts with us. Slow sustainable fashion looks a lot like;
- Garments and accessories made out of high quality, durable materials
- Often found at small stores supporting local manufacturers, rather than international chain fashion corporations
- Made to order
- Recycled and reused stones (within jewellery)
- Ethically produced packaging that reduces our environmental footprint.
So before you go on that shopping trip to purchase a new top for that special dinner. Think. Is there something that is still sitting with the tag on at the back of the draw that hasn't been worn yet? Do I really need to go and purchase another top? If nothing you own is quite right, then acknowledge the need for Slow Fashion and purchase something perhaps with a heftier price tag. The extra $$$ may not be nice on your purse, though you have made a small but mighty impact on the environment.
MADE TO ORDER
Many things that we see on our shelves today are produced in bulk and no doubt 1000’s of them are made in dusty sweatshops with little ventilation. Apart from the unethical means of production, why be the same as everyone else? That nice top from before normally purchased at Zara or H&M, could be made-to-order to fit you to perfection without excessive waste. We strive to be different, and there is no better way than to display our individuality than have our clothes made specifically for ourselves. This means that only you will be flaunting that beautifully handcrafted garment without shedding any guilt as it was ethically and sustainably made. A made to order model eradicates the production of surplus stock though still providing potential environmental benefits as well increasing economic factors surrounding the business.
Here at Kate & Kole we thrive on making our pieces specially to order, reducing our environmental footprint on our beautiful planet; but we are also becoming a part of something much bigger. A journey into providing someone with something custom made to represent all their characteristics and attributes. We love being able to design something so precious in which a client recognises the uniqueness to it. Making things to order creates a connection between the wearer and the piece; a strong emotional bond signifying a special occasion.
THE GOLDEN OLDIES
We often forget about the jewellery we have and become obsessed about having the news shiniest diamond. But what about our golden oldies… the literal golden oldies? The good news about jewellery, particularly fine jewellery, is most of the components that go into making it are entirely recyclable. Precious metals like gold, silver and platinum can be recycled over and over again with no loss of quality. Diamonds and gemstones, of course, don’t wear out or ‘go off’ either. (They might suffer some damage over time, but they can often be re-polished or even re-cut to make them new again). It’s a different story with costume jewellery unfortunately as materials used in the production often tarnish and discolour.
For my 18th Birthday my mum had the diamond from her original engagement ring reset into a breathtakingly beautiful white gold necklace. This memento is something that I can hold close to my heart and recognise the uniqueness which sparkles like stars in the sky. As the band on the engagement ring had worn down and was too fine to wear, the jewellers took the value of the gold and applied it to the remodelling of the piece. They took the delicate diamond and played around with the different settings which would reflect my style, designing a masterpiece of sheer beauty. The necklace is simply stunning, showcasing a regular round cut diamond perfectly sitting within its square setting. As the diamond belonged to my mum, the sentimental value is priceless and something I will hopefully pass down to my daughter. The black velvet box still delicately showcasing the dazzling beauty inside. If my mum hadn't recycled the stones and metals, the uniqueness and individuality of the piece wouldn't shine through, as well as the sentimental value.
SENDLE'S COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING
When we buy something new, we are normally so excited to admire glory inside, that we completely disregard the packaging as we rip it open. While it might be tempting to spend money and time creating a branded unboxing experience, new research shows that customers care less about how the packaging looks when it arrives than how they feel when they toss it out. Consumers today don’t want to spend their days decoding recycling rules. They want to quickly and sustainably dispose of your packaging and feel good doing it.Kate & Kole uses an independent courier, Sendle, who actively aims to reduce the environmental footprint through the invention of compostable packaging. According to a survey by Sendle, 57% of consumers said they get frustrated with the amount of packaging the products they order come in. Sendle’s lightweight, flexible satchels are easier to transport, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. All without gumming up the works at recycling plants. Instead, they biodegrade easily in a backyard compost or worm farm. In addition to the environmental benefits, people love them. According to Sendle’s survey, 64% of consumers said they’d be more likely to buy from a retailer that offered compostable packaging!
As this busy fast world is on a downward spiral in relation to the environmental footprint it will leave on it, it is down to us to make a change. When purchasing a new item of clothing, first think… Do I need it? If so, rather than grabbing the first pretty piece that glances your line of sight, do your research. Investigate the manufacturing process undergone, enquire about made to measure garments and recycle your ruins. If something doesn't change soon, our planet will become a polyester predator. We definitely do not want that.