The fashion industry is one of the most globalized industries in the world in terms of the flow of goods, services and people but it’s only over the past couple of years that the social and environmental impacts have been taken seriously by decision-makers because fashion always seems like a bubble. International fashion weeks, endless runways, extravagant shops and trends…
Everything about this industry says it’s an extremely self-centered one, and it actually is. But beyond all the fuss, fashion is actually an industry we all engage with due to the simple fact that we all wear clothes.
So whether you’re a chef, a policy maker or a fashionista, you are involved in the world of fashion in a way or another.
The reason why the fashion world might also seem like an unreachable bubble to most is also because it is not a transparent industry. Information about the ethical and ecological impact of our clothes is not easily made available. We’ve had the organic food movement for such a long time but for clothes it’s a relatively new topic and that is precisely why more awareness is urgently needed.
Here’s an overview of the different categories of the industry, and how their impact might be different:
Haute couture houses usually offer 2 collections per year. It’s basically high-end fashion: made by hand from start to finish with high-quality, custom, expensive, often unusual fabrics and sewn with extreme attention to detail. The finishing is done by highly qualified and experienced sewers, often using time-consuming hand-executed techniques.
Haute couture is modeled down the runway for exclusive clientele that can afford to have these types of pieces handcrafted just for them, the garments take months to complete and require several fittings to ensure that the client’s needs are met.
Ready to wear (RTW)
Designers usually offer 2 to 4 collections of RTW per year. They’re also produced for the runway and are overall a higher-end than clothing seen in the malls all while having more realistic designs and construction quality than garments modeled at haute couture runway shows.
This type of clothing is made for the runway by designers and then sold by boutiques, online boutiques, and high-end department stores. Unlike Haute Couture, RTW is not bespoke, it caters to a wider audience and designs are made to fit most body types without having to perform major alterations and adjustments.
Fast Fashion is the process of imitating trends and styles from the renown designers on the runway. Those brands usually offer 11 to 52 collections per year. Although fast fashion enables one to access fashion cheaply, it has harmful for our planet and disrespectful to the workers creating the garments. From choices of materials, conditions of production to amount of waste and pollution, Fast Fashion is actually only possible because of these unethical methods.
With an abundance of cheap disposable clothing, the average person buys an unnecessary quantity of them, wearing these clothes only a few times and then discarding it. This means that more and more clothes are being produced and consumed without any real added value for the consumer.
Slow fashion is basically the opposite of Fast Fashion: it’s about quality instead of quantity. It’s mindful of all the processes, it gives special consideration to the materials used, the way the garment is made along with who is making it. It usually has a higher price point than Fast Fashion and it is justified by the quality of the item: Slow Fashion brands will typically use higher quality materials, better designs, and craftsmanship in its production process. It is meant to be ethical without compromising on quality.
Slow Fashion brands usually work on small collections and/or production upon order to limit stocks and waste. The system is not mass consumption driven: it is environmentally and ethically conscious, and the designs are timeless rather than trend driven.
It is the deliberate choice to buy better quality items, less often.
Sustainable fashion is about meeting today’s needs while ensuring that the way we do it meets future needs as well.
This refers to the effects of the production of clothing on the environment. Sustainable Fashion gives extra attention to the use of pesticides in growing cotton, the chemicals in the dyes used for various colors, water and waste treatment, energy reduction, using recycled materials, upcycled fabrics and sometimes even packaging…
Sustainable brands are often part of the Slow Fashion movement too.
With more and more consumers looking for ethical fashion, a lot of Fast Fashion brands are trying to appeal today to their growingly con- scious consumer base through more sustainable collections and labels.
Fashion is one of the world’s largest industries, however, it is also one of the most polluting. And that’s why it urgently needs to slow down, reduce production AND consumption. Some of the big names already started shifting into a more transparent and sustainable production processes.
So how can we as individuals contribute to a better future for this industry and for our planet?
Be mindful of what you buy and whether you think you’ll wear it more than once, throw it away the next week, or not wear it at all.
Before you shop, research the brands you are buying from and understand what you’re willingly supporting when you’re buying from a fast fashion label.
As a fashion designer, I believe Slow fashion is the answer for a healthier fashion industry: timeless, classic and perfectly custom garments using high quality materials, craftsman- ship and a great attention to details.
In today’s consumerist world where we are used to mass production, low prices and neverending trends, Slow Fashion might seem like a long shot and it will probably take time to settle in.
A more conscious approach to fashion, for both producers and consumers, should clearly become the new norm.
Undestanding The Fashion Industry
Author : Aline Boghossian
January 21, 2022
Syrian Professional Network