Autumn is officially here and I hear you squeal with joy “new season, new wardrobe”. Who doesn’t love stocking up on cosy autumn layers or adding an awesome pair of leather boots to the collection? Guilty! However, as much as I love shopping, starting Laurence has unlocked a lot of insights into the industry and helped me rethink my shopping choices.
Fashion business, glamorous as it may be, is surrounded by controversy, especially when it comes to mass production. It is no secret that the industry is one of the most polluting in the world.
These numbers speak for themselves: last year the industry was responsible for 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (McKinsey research, 2020). Did you know that 85% of the fashion supply chain material ends up in landfills? ( Morgan McFall-Johnsen, 2020). What’s even worse is that a lot of it gets burned which contributes immensely to the CO2 released into the atmosphere, the whole 1.2 billion tonnes of it per year! (World Resources Institute, 2019).
And unfortunately, we, the consumers, are just as responsible for it as the industry itself. The research by Morgan McFall-Johnsen claims that “people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long.” Does anyone else cringe reading these numbers?
But it is not all doom and gloom. “The beacon of light” is the slow fashion movement.
We got ourselves into a vicious circle of consumption - the more we consume, the more the industry produces, the more it harms the environment - but it is equally up to us to get out of it.
The term ‘slow fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher, the professor from the University of the Arts London Centre for Sustainable Fashion. It stands for a thoughtful and holistic way of designing, creating and buying garments. It is encouraging to see that a lot of emerging brands embrace the concept by:
1) Working on smaller production batches to avoid complex supply chains and excess.
2) Paying fair wages to factory workers.
3) Using quality materials.
On the other side of the chain, consumer habits are starting to change as well largely thanks to the younger generations that are concerned with the longevity of our planet.
As always, the change starts from within. You need to evaluate your shopping habits and introduce new practices and new shopping outlets especially if your go-to brands are on the high street.
Research brands that are transparent about their supply chain practices, fabric and material choices. Granted, they might come with a heavier price tag than at your favourite high street store, but they are an investment rather than an impulse buy.
Shop second hand or rent. You can find the coolest vintage pieces in second hand and charity shops around the UK. I already mentioned my love for Traid, Beyond Retro and Rokit stores. Another great online outlet is Vestiaire Collective where you can buy high street and designer pieces from other shoppers.
Have you ever considered renting your wardrobe? Check out services of The Devout, Rent The Runway, Hurr and there are many more. (I know it’s a little weird to do that but why not try out and live dangerously!)
For me, it is extremely important to give back to the Earth and not to take more. I try to be conscious and cautious when designing new products; from materials I use to suppliers and factories I work with.
You can read all about Laurence fabric choices in the Sustainable Fabrics: What I have learned blog. I am just starting out so it’s definitely tricky, but all my bags are produced in small batches to ensure there is no excess production lying around in the warehouse. Ready-to-wear items are produced for each order using partner services in France and the UK.
These practices allow me to control the production aspect of the business tightly without compromising creativity. And this way I get to experiment with new designs. Yes, in some cases you might have to wait longer for your item to arrive, but once you know that it has been produced specifically for you using the best materials and not overworking the staff in the production line, it is worth the wait, right?
Brands that I like for sustainability efforts: