The Future of Fashion
The fashion industry has evolved over the years in terms of styles, trends and collections, recently more radical and disruptive changes have been implemented to satisfy the needs of the social media generation.
Historically fashion brands conformed to the two collection calendar (Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter) but recently this has been increased to include an additional two collections (Summer or Resort and Pre-Autumn or Pre-Fall).
Since the emergence of social media there has been an increasing demand for fast fashion – the online culture demands more styles and fashion influencers are paid vast sums to be photographed wearing new clothes daily.
It is now reported that the fast fashion industry has 52 micro seasons – that’s one each week of the year, with the aim of encouraging consumers to buy as many garments as possible under the facade of a new highly desired trend. With the assistance of online influencers these fast fashion businesses are purposefully designed to make customers feel off-trend after wearing the outfit once.
This recent shift in consumerism has lead to a constant flow of disposable clothing, although the clothes purchased from fast fashion outlets seem cheap the overall cost is considerably high. The fast fashion industry is built on the low quality/high volume business model, even some major designer labels have succumb to the allure of quick money via outlet stores which retail designer clothes at a fraction of the price. The problem is that the clothing in these outlet stores are often produced using low quality fabrics in factories which aren't on the designer label's portfolio (designer labels agree for their brand to be applied to cheap clothing created in low quality factories as long as they are sold solely in these outlets and never in their main stores). Consumers believe they are purchasing designer products when in fact they are receiving inferior items often produced via unethical means.
As mentioned in previous Jackson James articles these inferior clothing items are often created with harmful materials (such as lead contaminants, pesticide, insecticides etc) and when discarded these chemicals may be released into the environment. During the manufacturing process chemicals are added to create textiles, these chemicals are mixed by spinner and weavers at the early stages of the process and then further chemicals are applied (such as formaldehyde) at the dyeing stage before finishing chemicals (such as flame retardants) are introduced at the end. These chemicals can be directly linked to health issues from skin rashes to even cancer.
Toxic chemicals and materials from fast fashion products are responsible for pollution to our air, soil and water.
Microplastics, microfibers and other toxins in fast fashion clothing are washed into our waste water, eventually ending up in rivers and oceans. These harmful chemicals and toxins are ingested by marine life which may end up as the food we eat. The same damage can be caused by these chemicals when they are washed into the soil. The toxins affect the quality of the crops grown which can cause harm to the body when consumed.
Scientists have recommended the removal of harmful chemicals and toxins (such as PFAS agents) from the clothing production process, there are alternatives already in existence which are natural and free from toxins. Such a minor change will significantly help the planet and also reduce the harmful chemicals we are exposed to either directly (as consumers buying fast fashion) or indirectly (consuming foods grown on soil polluted by toxins from clothing).
The Future of Fashion
The fashion industry needs immediate regulation and transparency on the manufacturing process - potential itemisation of the chemicals used in the process (similar to the ingredients you find on food packaging in stores and supermarkets). Details regarding the factory in which the clothing was made (potentially with a five star rating similar to the food standards rating a restaurant would be accredited with) and how the garment can be recycled.
However combating these fashion industry shortcomings should not be a political issue but more a consumer challenge. The harm caused to the environment and the food chain can be resolved through human conscious decisions based on more information and education. Consumers can influence change with their buying power and by choosing to purchase sustainable and ethical clothing over fast fashion. Turning away from low quality brands and buying clothes which last from companies which have high ethical and sustainable standards.
As a final point we hope there will be a reversion to the traditional format of two - six seasons/collections per annum but feel this movement may need to start with a culture shift on social media platforms especially instagram.