Fast fashion and sustainability

12 September 2017

Written by: Jiordan Tolli

The fashion industry looks at alternatives to low-quality fast fashion.

It’s no secret fashion is big business. The 2016 domestic market value of the industry in Australia alone was worth 28.5 billion dollars with a labour force of 12.2 million.

Clothes are mass-produced, more affordable, and can be purchased from the comfort of your own home. This kind of ‘fast fashion’ keeps prices down and gives consumers abundant choice.

Senae Travers, owner of online shop Virgo & Her, knows all about keeping up with the demands of the fast fashion formula.

“Everyone wants things yesterday. From the start of the process to the very end, you have to be on the ball. The trends must be up-to-date, the shopping experience must be easy, and the shipping must be quick and reliable. Without these, you will have no customers,” Senae tells upstart.

While consumers tend to regard the fast fashion industry as being of low quality, Senae says, “the quality it now provides is of a higher standard.

“I didn’t want my customers to lose quality just because they weren’t spending hundreds of dollars on one item. When you buy a piece of clothing, you expect it to last.”

The industry is becoming less about fast production and more about how quickly and efficiently a product can be shifted while keeping the price as low as possible. More styles mean more purchases and more purchases lead to more waste.

“The fast fashion industry has a huge impact on our environment. As fast fashion is cheap and therefore quickly discarded by users, they are more likely to buy higher quantities and keep it for a lot less long,” says Senae.

Senae is hopeful that the quality of fast fashion will continue to grow, “meaning less wastage and a possible adjustment of disposal.”

Senae is not the only fashion producer concerned about environmental impact. Nathan Galatopolous prides himself on providing people with a fashionable alternative that looks good and saves the environment.

Mr Vintage is an Australian-owned company that supplies vintage and retro clothing at affordable prices.

Accoring to The Balance, recycling clothing helps combat 14.3 million tons of textile waste per year.

“I love that people can express themselves through what they wear. I love the quirky, the bold, the mismatched and the innovative,” Galatopolous tells upstart.

With access to over 250 different lines of attire, his company is one of the largest wholesalers of vintage clothing in Australia.

Galatopolous applauds those “who don’t follow fashion trends.” He believes that how you dress should be a representation of your personality.

“You are unique, one in seven billion, born out of the death of a star. Life is too short to wear boring clothing; I love vintage clothing as it allows people the opportunity to show off their personality in whichever way they see it.

“Millions of pieces of clothing are produced everyday. If you take sustainability seriously, be responsible, get vintage,” says Galatopolous.

Mr Vintage has been a way for Galatopolous to combine his passion for clothing and the environment.

“Australia has a major fast fashion problem at the moment. It is the fastest growing waste problem,

“In Australia, we throw away half a million tons of textiles and leather a year. To break that down to something that is more understandable, that’s six tons every ten minutes to land fill in Australia alone. If that’s not an issue, I don’t know what is,” says Galatopolous.

Apart from his love of fashion, Galatopolous also strongly believes in the importance of minimising his footprint on the planet.

“If we didn’t throw out clothes to landfill and donated it around the world, every human in the world could be clothed.

“Small baby steps will make a big difference towards sustainability in this world. If we are mindful and conservative it will go a long way.

“There are 7 billion of us on this earth. Recycle timber, hand down toys, limit how much plastic you buy, drive less and walk more,” says Galatopolous.

Disposable fashion and the significant waste associated with it is on the rise. If you’re looking for ways to shop ethically, visit Fashion Magazine for ‘Ten tips for reducing your fashion footprint, now!’

Jiordan Tolli is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter at: @jiordant