We recently attended a talk where fashion companies were presenting their solutions to the ever more competitive and demanding consumer market.
As in many industries these days sustainability was an underlying topic. However, the theme of one particular talk was speed. One of the biggest fast-fashion e-commerce sites was giving a talk about how they would make fashion even faster. How they in a matter of days could pick up the latest trend, sketch ideas, make patterns, source material, sew it and sell it.
We felt like we had been running a marathon just listening to it!
As far as sustainability goes, we guess digitalisation was their winning argument. What we learned from this event is that the well known fast-fashion has advanced to faster-fashion and it’s all just a race against time to see who can make the fastest-fashion. In other words, someone is trying to increase our consumption level to an even higher extent.
It is no secret that fast fashion has created an instant gratification mentality -well accompanied by many other industries. The famous Marshmallow test states that the ability to delay gratification is one of the most important factors for success in life! That way it would seem that the fast fashion industry is deliberately working against our well-being while disguised as the latest “must have” that we can’t reach our full potential without.
Is it even possible to make fashion about something else than obsolescence? Could it ever be fashionable to have less and use more of what we have, in ways that reflect our personality rather than just buying in to the latest trends and identities from Paris?
Hopefully, at least for those puppies used as fashion accessories to make the outfits look cute at Tod’s latest Fashion show. We wouldn’t want them to become a fashion trend and the next thing we expand our throw-away-society with. There is however one major problem overshadowing all else: it takes resources to make goods, and the resources that are not finite take time to be regenerated by Mother Earth, even puppies take time to make.
In 2017 the Earth Overshoot Day (the day we’ve used up all the planet can renew in the whole year) was august 2nd. This means that we actually need 1.7 planets to meet the human race’s resource demand. If everyone were to have the same consumption level as the average Norwegian we would need 2.7 planets. In a world with an exponentially growing population and a goal for equality throughout the world we should be seeing some red warning signs when obsolescence still define the way business work.
The underlying question is also then, who is it that will suffer the consequences when our throw-away society keeps on growing?
But who should we blame? The big brands for tempting us to buy? Or ourselves for not being able to resist? And how will brands survive and thrive if consumers aren’t tempted to buy more than just what they need? It’s a complicated matter. But then again, it really is time to ask who made these old-fashioned fast-fashion rules and why we are still playing by them.
Perhaps the answer lies in speed after all, but instead of speeding up we should rather look into what comes out of slowing down: like quality, craftsmanship and things that you wish to keep for a long time. These are the values that future businesses should be built on and those already existing should take a closer look at. And hands down to those that already do. Because there are ways to create profit without it having a negative effect on people or planet also in the fashion industry, it’s just a matter of creativity.
In the end we only have one planet that possesses the qualities to be called Mother, so let’s try to keep her around.