Fast Fashion has been taking over the world. According to a study by McKinsey, between 2000 and 2014, the number of items of clothing purchased by the average consumer increased by 60%, and yet people are holding onto garments for about half as long as they did 15 years ago. Thanks to the use of mechanised manufacturing processes and cheap outsourced labour, fashion companies have been able to churn out clothing as though it were a disposable commodity, with big High Street brands such as Zara and H&M offering up to 24 new collections each year to keep up with the ever-changing trends and insatiable appetite for consumerism.
“… the number of items of clothing purchased by the average consumer increased by 60%”
“High Street brands offering up to 24 new collections each year…”
While fashion has gone fast, clothing prices between 1995 and 2014 have crept up at a snail’s pace in comparison to the inflation in prices for other goods. In some countries, such as the UK, it has even decreased, moving from 49% to -53%. With such low prices, more and more garments are being bought, with annual production exceeding 100 billion items in 2014—that’s nearly 14 items of clothing for every person on the planet! Customers have rapidly become consumers, seeing clothes as commodities to use up and discard rather than live with and treasure. Estimates suggest that the cheapest garments are worn as few as seven or eight times before being thrown out and ending their lives on landfill.
Analysts from McKinsey have also estimated that if 80% of the population of emerging economies were to achieve the same clothing-consumption levels as that of the developed economies by 2025, then the environmental footprint of the fashion industry would expand to do almost irreparable damage, with CO2 levels increasing by 77%, water use by 20% and land use by 7%.
All in all, the Fast Fashion Industry is one based on exploitation—both of the people working within it and buying into it and of the planet it relies upon. It continues to run off an outdated linear economic model that simply takes and never gives back.
It is clear that this is not a problem that is going to disappear overnight and will require industry-wide action. Some apparel companies have begun to take the issue of sustainability seriously. For instance, H&M and Levis have each partnered with I:CO who provide collection bins for clothing and footwear which they then sort through so that anything wearable can be sold and all the rest recycled. And companies such as Patagonia and Nudie Jeans also offer repair services so that their customers can extend the lives of their garments. Consumers are also demanding change, with a study by Future Consumer suggesting that by 2019 most people will expect to be able to track a product’s lifecycle as easily as they track a postal package today.
AmaElla Team, Cambrigde
But what is the lingerie industry doing to keep up? Well, with over 3.6 billion items of clothing sitting unworn in wardrobes in the UK, we have decided to take a radical stand against waste and exploitative practice, and begin a Slow Lingerie Movement. While Fast Fashion rides on a wave of worker exploitation and disposable garments, Slow Lingerie creates beautiful pieces without a use-by date.
At AmaElla, all our products are made using organic cotton which sustains the livelihoods of cotton farmers without polluting the planet or using toxins that are harmful to farmers, their communities and, ultimately, to your skin. We also only produce batches when enough items have been pre-ordered, meaning that we don’t stockpile unwanted garments or produce waste from surplus stock. While this does mean waiting a bit longer to receive your purchases, it is well worth the wait for a timeless piece that’s been made ethically and sustainably and will be worn again and again. Forget unworn underwear that collects cobwebs in your wardrobe—we’re creating products that are made to last, be loved and stick with you through thick and thin. Join the Slow Lingerie Revolution and invest in undies that are invested in you!