Since the industrial revolution, the textile and the fashion industry have taken an accelerated path. Every year around 80 billion garments are produced worldwide, 400% more than what we used to produce 20 years ago.
The up-scaling of fashion for the mass market has brought cheap prices and accessibility for a wider audience. But at what cost?
The linear economy model that has been ruling industries for at least 20 years, has enabled a pattern of over-consumption at low prices. But what are the real repercussions behind this accelerated industry?
In the last decade, the main goal of enterprises has been financial growth, without measuring the real impacts caused by this growth.
We must consider that low-cost garments are possible due to a cost reduction in their manufacturing process. This means there is always someone paying the real cost of clothes with unethical practices, poor quality, and other cost-lowering actions taken on to ensure such cheap prices could be offered to the consumer.
The fast fashion model creates around 52 low-cost collections instead of the usual 2 to 4 that the fashion industry normally does. This creates huge social and environmental consequences.
There are many issues along the chain of value, one of them is the manufacturing process where unethical and unfair practices take place exploiting human and natural resources to offer cheap and fast products for an accelerated demand.
Here’s a list of some of the activities that permit a low-cost system:
Trends and today´s culture promotes the over-consumption.
We can find data that estimates a garment is used 7 times before being discarded, a clear example of this is the 35 kg of textile waste that are created per person every year worldwide.
Nowadays we are facing a critical global situation that invites us to act fast and join the change.
We need to understand that everything is connected, so we can act from our role as a consumer, entrepreneur, business, manufacturer, or government to implement the needed measures to transform and be a more responsible version of ourselves.
If we are part of the problem, we have the enormous opportunity to be part of the solution.
The responsibility to be more sustainable has a potential from a consumer perspective: better habits and supporting the right changes pushes the industry to change as well, with every purchase.
Nonetheless, designers have also a huge responsibility to look for new alternatives for better and a more responsible design that permits us to mitigate today´s impacts.