Before the 1800s, fashion was slow. You had to source your own materials and hand-make clothing. The Industrial Revolution began in the mid 1800s that introduced new technology like the sewing machine. Clothes shopping became an occasional event where you would go to your local seamstress to make you something for special events or once you outgrew an item. These clothes were kept for years, passed down, repaired or used as rags once beyond repair. But something shifted in the 1990s. Driven by lower manufacturing costs and trend cycles speeding up, shopping became a hobby. 20 years later, enter social media. Fashion hauls, buying outfits to take pictures in them, posing in a dress for an event, never outfit repeating - clothes have turned into dispensable items often tossed or never worn more than a few times (the typical consumer buys 68 clothing items a year and only wears them an average of 7 times!). The fashion industry used to produce items based on the 4 seasons a year. Now, fast fashion brands run on 52 production cycles, producing new styles every week!
Why is fast fashion bad?
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions - more than shipping and aviation combined! If practices don't change, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the worlds carbon budget. Further, every year, the industry uses 93 billion liters of water, enough to meet the consumption needs of 5 million people.
1 in 6 people globally work in the fashion industry. In order to mass produce items quickly and cheaply, most of these people work in horrific conditions, non existent rights, with long hours and low wages. Only 2% of factory workers globally earn a living wage, the minimum amount needed to survive.
The good news is, Millennials and Gen Z's, the future drivers of our economy, are becoming increasingly concerned about how their consumption impacts the planet. With other ways to consume fashion, like rax, Canada's peer-to-peer wardrobe rental app, consumers can drive the circular economy of fashion.