Dear Fast Fashion,
We’ve been together for a long time now, and we’ve certainly had some laughs and some lows. Over the years you’ve dazzled, bewitched, and depressed in equal measure, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if I can hack the emotional rollercoaster any longer. Not to mention I’ve been hearing some preeeeeetty dodgy things about you, and quite frankly, I think I — and the world — deserve better.
I need some time and space to process my feelings, I hope you understand.
It’s not me, it’s you.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have been pretty heartbroken to learn about some of the goings-on in the fast fashion industry. What’s worse, is that although this information is new to many of us, it is far from new to the industry itself.
For this week’s Listen Up! it was heart eye emojis all round when the delightful Lauren Bravo joined Lucy and Chris live to discuss fast fashion guilt, finding and seizing the joy in your wardrobe, and doing the best with the resources you have.
Watch the chat here.
In 2019, Lauren made a resolution not to buy any new clothes for the entire year, favouring second-hand and vintage instead. After three months of documenting her journey on social media, she was approached to write a book about her experiences! How to Break Up With Fast Fashion hit shelves this year, as a guide for anyone looking to reassess their relationship with their wardrobe.
One of the biggest issues surrounding fast fashion is accessibility. On one hand, fast fashion is generally the most accessible for society’s poorest people, but in the same breath, those people need their purchases to last as long as possible, instead of falling apart after a few washes. This catch 22 perpetuates fast fashion habits and keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of purchasing, using up, and throwing away. Many moons ago, we had a very different relationship with our clothes; the Make Do and Mend message, published as a pamphlet in 1943, sought to provide housewives with tips on how to be stylish on a shoestring budget, during a time of intense rationing. Tips included adding decorative patches under holes in garments, unpicking threadbare jumpers to re-knit into new pieces, and how to protect your clothes from hungry moths!
Sure, we’re a far way away from wartime in Britain, but what happened to us making the most of our clothes? Is it time that we re-learned the value of nurturing our wardrobes, and sought to establish long-term, loving connections with the pieces that make us feel (and look!) good?
Lucy and Chris had tonnes of fun chatting to Lauren about the perils of wardrobe meltdowns (totally relatable), reflecting on and finding the joy in what you currently own, and injecting new life into older pieces by experimenting with layering, adding accessories, or taking clothes to be altered. A true vintage and pre-loved aficionado, Lauren also takes us through the excitement of rifling through charity shop rails, and hunting for that perfect vintage frock.
Of course, we appreciate that we must recognise the time privilege that comes with being able to mend, up-cycle, and sift through charity shop offerings for that perfect second-hand piece. We know that not everybody has the means and resources to do this – we firmly believe in doing the best that you can with what you have. There are different categories of people in our society; some people aren’t able to afford to spend more than £10 on a dress for a special occasion, and whether that’s in a month or in a year, they should never feel any guilt for that. After all, we as consumers are not to blame for the sorry state of the fast fashion industry – big corporations and disinterested governments are at fault for exploiting every person involved in the chain; from the farmers who grow and harvest the fabrics needed, to the tailors working in unsatisfactory conditions for unsustainable pay, to you, the customer, who are short-changed by poor quality and a lack of longevity.
We have never considered Lucy & Yak to be a “slow” fashion brand. We love releasing new things because for us, our work is our art, and we want to share our creativity with you in the hopes that it brings you as much joy as it brings us. As we continue to grow our business in the most ethical ways possible (a topic you can hear about in our previous live!) we strive to bring you more of the things you love, like our signature dungas, in the colours and prints that you call out for. As our colour ways increase, our silhouettes remain consistent – a far cry from brands who tempt us with this week’s hottest look, until the next one comes along a week later...
What we can say for sure, is that we are striving to do things differently, by creating a system where everybody is treated fairly, with respect, and are paid more than adequately for their time and talents. We believe that this ethos is reflected in the quality of the garments that our fabulous tailors produce – happy people, making happy dungas! And as always, we thank you for embarking on this journey with us, and choosing to spend consciously, with us. We couldn’t do it without you.
Are you interested in learning more about breaking up with your fast fashion wardrobe? We've compiled some handy resources and statistics below:
‘How to Break Up With Fast Fashion’, Lauren Bravo
How expensive should fashion be? The true cost of our clothes isn’t decided at the till
Don't want to shop post-lockdown? Here's why
6 Ways to Quit Fast Fashion
The ‘Marie Kondo Effect’: Netflix Tidying Guru Sparks Increase in Charity Shop Donations
Fashion's Dirty Little Secret And How It's Coming Clean
H&M accused of burning 12 tonnes of new, unsold clothing per year
Pulse of The Fashion Industry 2019 Updates
‘A monstrous disposable industry’: Fast facts about fast fashion
Textile and Garment Recycling Facts and Figures
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe That Will Last a Lifetime
A complete guide to buying ethical clothes on a budget
Find a loving home for your unwanted garments with Freecycle
Recycle Now: What to do with old clothing & textiles
- In the UK, each person buys on average an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year—compared to an average 15.6kg for people across across Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. (Source)
- One polyester shirt has a 5.5kg carbon footprint, compared to just 2.1kg for a cotton shirt. (Source)
- Between 2000 and 2015 the number of times an item of clothing is worn decreased by around 36%. In the UK, the average person owns 115 items of clothing, but 30% of these clothes have not been worn within the past year. (Source 1) (Source 2)
- The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. This is more energy than both aviation and shipping combined. (Source 1) (Source 2)
- Around 70 million barrels of oil a year are used to make the polyester fibres in our clothes. (Source)