A couple of weeks ago I told you I wanted to write some pieces that were both stylish and substantial. This is the first and I hope you’ll tell me what you think in comments below.

It's Cerulean
It’s Cerulean

The motivation behind these writings has roots in personal experience. Despite being a (very) bright girl, my lifelong interest in fashion over fractions and pop culture over ancient culture has often alienated me from academic peers. More than once, I encountered professors or classmates who took my outward enthusiasm for such seemingly frivolous pursuits to mean I wasn’t (very) bright. As Miranda Priestly points out in the Devil Wears Prada, this mistaken correlation of fashion and non-seriousness couldn’t be further from the truth. I said it in my first-ever Fawkeshunter post, “frivolous” fashion was the catalyst that propelled me to learn about art, history and culture. Today, as I delve further into the industry, I realize fashion isn’t just a great lens for studying the past, but understanding the present as well.

Among the most pressing fashion-related issues presently impacting the world is the rise of fast fashion. The issue’s been on my mind more than usual this month following a recent H&M announcement of a program allowing customers to “recycle” garments of any brand in its stores worldwide and, in exchange, received a 15% discount off an item of choice. According to H&M, up to 95% of discarded clothing could be reworn, reused or recycled. It’s the first global garment collecting initiative of it’s kind and, if successful, could help substantially reduce this waste and the carbon footprint of textile manufacturing around the world. Perhaps more importantly it, like these words, could substantially raise consumer awareness and impact fashion buying decisions.

If you’re not familiar with the term fast fashion, you’re certainly familiar with the fact that retailers of all sizes are producing and delivering inexpensive fashions that copy trends within weeks, if not days, of them walking the runway or red carpet. This is fast fashion. On the surface it’s awesome. Especially for someone like me who’s supposed to be trendy and stylish at all times. Thanks to fast fashion, I can look ahead-of-trend without having to splash out for an exclusively designer wardrobe (I wish, not there yet…).

Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline
Learn more: Elizabeth Cline’s Book Overdressed Dives Deeper into this Subject

But looking good comes at a price. Consumers have become accustomed to easy, affordable access to trends and are (understandably) demanding more, faster and cheaper. And, while this demand means more jobs in the garment industry, often in developing nations, it doesn’t guarantee stellar working conditions. Nor does it guarantee environmentally friendly, or even environmentally sound, manufacturing processes. It also makes it easy to throw away a nearly new, stained shirt because it’s cheap and easy to get a replacement. The frenetic pace at which we produce and consume fashion risks making us all careless and unaware of the impact our wardrobes have on people and places thousands of miles away. And, that hurts every one.

H&M Sustainability Commitments
H&M Sustainability Commitments

This isn’t a new issue, but H&M’s announcement does shift the impact of our fashion consumption from something most often debated in academic and industry circles to something that everyday people around the world can take action on. I’m a believer that to solve problems you have to give people uncomplicated access to take action. It’s unrealistic to think that every consumer will research the supply and value chains of their apparel or what to do with garments that have reached the end of their life cycle. I haven’t. But I have made a point to know H&M is leading the charge in ensuring first part of the equation, responsible production of apparel, is addressed. Their leadership, and public pressure, have prompted others to do the same by 2020. H&M completes the cycle with their new global collection initiative, set to roll out to stores in February 2013. Here’s hoping it catches on.

Now, my goal in sharing these and future deep thoughts with you isn’t to present a solution or draw some hard political stance on issues, which some may find as a cop-out. I’m a stylist. My job is to help you look and feel your best. Where it all ties together is my conviction that carrying yourself with true style is as much about being well-spoken and informed as it is looking good. Hopefully this makes you better informed so, just as with your fashion choices, you can make decisions that work for you.

Photos: Twentieth Century Fox, Overdressed, H&M

9 Comments on Think Fast Fashion

  1. lipstickstudio
    January 18, 2013 at 12:29 am (4 years ago)

    Love that H&M is providing a resource for clothes-cycling but they should…they head the copycat, cheap clothing industry. Most, if not all, major clothing retailers have multiple CSR initiatives as part of public relations efforts.

    Reply
  2. Brittany Fowler (@BrittanyPMF)
    January 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm (4 years ago)

    FABULOUS post. I have been thinking about this alot lately as well, as I have decided that I would like to “ween” myself off of the fast fashion addiction. I think the environmental and social costs FAR outweigh my need to have a sneaker wedge. In fact, that is why I have turned to thrift and vintage. It’s a way for me to feel that EVEN as a die-hard fashionista, I don’t have to contribute to the consumer driven society we live in. Love this post SO much…might have to do a follow up on my own blog 😉 Found you on Links a la Mode and I am now following you.

    xoxo

    Reply
    • fawkeshunter
      January 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks, Brittany! I loved your Dark Triad post as well. I feel similarly. (Obviously!) It’s hard to balance the wants with the social needs. I’m following you and can’t wait to read more from you! xoxo

      Reply
  3. Hope Walker (@HopelessAnorak)
    January 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm (4 years ago)

    I love this post, I think it is a really reflective piece of writing and I was really enthralled! I think H&Ms new campaign is amazing, something which other high street stores should really consider adopting, I will certainly be taking advantage of their new scheme and I just hope that others do the same!

    Reply
    • fawkeshunter
      January 26, 2013 at 12:59 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks, Hope! When I was researching, it looked like M&S and Oxfam in the UK partnered on a similar initiative. Hopefully with H&M doing the same, you’ll see British High Street chains being leaders in this.

      Reply

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