Archive for the 'Fast Fashion' Category

12
Nov
18

Are Your Clothes Killing the Planet

Are Your Clothes Killing the Planet

Are Your clothes killing the planet?

Levi’s, Everlane among leaders stepping up to sustainability challenge

Fashion may look pretty on the runway and on Instagram feeds, but behind the scenes it wreaks havoc on the environment.That’s because the building blocks of modern clothing — polyester and similar synthetic textiles — are, basically, plastic fibers made from coal, petroleum, air and water.

Compounding that is the huge consumption of water, which, contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals used in apparel production, is later discharged into waterways. Garments, when laundered, shed tiny fibers that slip through sewage and washing machine filters and end up in the ocean. And there are the mountains of castoff clothes that sit in landfills releasing greenhouse gases. The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans threw out 11.9 million tons of clothing and footwear in 2015.

“The fashion industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is more than the maritime and flight industries combined,” says Annie Gullingsrud, a sustainable fashion consultant, author and adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, citing an Ellen MacArthur Foundation study. And 8 percent of global GHG emissions comes from the production of apparel and footwear, Gullingsrud adds.

“And that’s not talking about all the pollution and chemicals,” she says. “Or the fact that half of our fashion is disposed of in under a year. We’re coming to the conclusion, fortunately, that we’ve overshot the planet. The fashion industry is taking more from the planet than it can naturally regenerate. We can grow cotton, but you add the concept of scale and you’re depleting farmland.”

As the world wakes up to the idea that today’s linear take-make-use-dispose economic model is not viable in a world of finite resources, some propose a radical solution: Reduce the volume of clothing production to zero, or almost zero.Gullingsrud acknowledges this is a tough one, not only because fashion generates trillion-dollar revenues for companies, but also because many customers still value price, design and novelty over whether a sheep has been humanely treated in the production of a wool sweater.

“When people are wearing used clothes, it will decrease the amount of virgin clothes required,” she says. “That’s scary to the industry. But it has to change. It can’t keep putting out virgin clothes. Changing the model is not a may, it’s a must.”

While many industry insiders see making no new clothes as a nonstarter, they are embracing another option — the circular economy. Under a circular economy, companies operate on what is called a “closed loop” model, a process that uses innovation to eradicate waste by turning it into a resource, through regenerating and recycling, to create new items.

On Oct. 29, Burberry and H&M were among more than 250 brands and institutions (including Target, L’Oreal and Unilever) that signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. Signatories pledged to “eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source,” and collectively represent 20 percent of all plastic producers. The effort, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, supports a circular economy, in partnership with UN Environment, according to a news release.

“Materials are extracted from the earth in a nonhazardous way and sold to make garments,” Gullingsrud says. “And then those garments stay in circulation for as long as possible. New companies like Poshmark promote that. Based on this, people are getting help in buying used instead of new clothing. This is a fantastic business model — and now we call this a value chain, not a supply chain.”

And in the U.S., the circular economy is catching on. PVH Corp., producers of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, is doing it, says Gullingsrud, adding, “We’re not at the execution stage, let’s be clear. But we’re absolutely moving toward it.”

Jason Kibbey, CEO of San Francisco’s Sustainable Apparel Coalition, agrees. SAC developed the Higg Index, tools measuring environmental, social and labor impacts across members’ supply chains. “It’s just getting started,” Kibbey says, “but scaling pretty quickly. When we started the index five years ago, there were only 25 companies which had the remotest ability to work on issues. Now when you look at who’s engaging in sustainable practices, it’s becoming a norm.”

Kibbey foresees clothing production decreases. “The idea that we’re going to flip the switch and clothing companies won’t use any raw materials at all is not realistic,” he says. “But over the long term, all the large companies are looking at how to continue the sustainability of input materials to make clothes. There is a sincere desire to reduce the virgin material that goes into clothing, and it will happen.”

For that to occur, big guns need to lead the way.

Everlane’s 13-piece ReNew outerwear collection of men’s and women’s fleece sweatshirts, puffers and parkas is made of 3 million discarded plastic bottles. The line is priced at $55 to $198.

Photo: Everlane

Michael Kobori, Levi’s VP of sustainability, has spearheaded several programs at the company, including one to reduce water use in everything from growing cotton to laundering jeans.

Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle

San Francisco’s Levi Strauss is one of them. The 165-year-old jeans company was the first multinational apparel business in 1991 to institute a comprehensive workplace code of conduct.

In 2005, Levi’s began releasing the names and locations of all its contract and licensee factories, and this year, expanded that list to include fabric mills. In July, in an earth-moving first for the industry, Levi’s announced it would reduce carbon emissions across its owned and operated facilities by 90 percent, and within its global supply chain by 40 percent, by 2025.

“This is a huge shift, not only for Levi’s but for the industry at large,” says Todd Paglia, executive director of environmental activist group Stand.earth, a vocal critic of Levi’s. “Levi’s is to be applauded for doing this — and the rest of the industry must follow suit.”

Stand.earth notwithstanding, Levi’s pioneering sustainability efforts led to its being named one of the most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company in 2014. Levi’s vice president of sustainability, Michael Kobori, was named one of the 1,000 most creative people in business.

Kobori spearheaded the company’s ethical fashion mission with several programs and early membership in the Better Cotton Initiative, which trains farmers across the world to grow cotton with less water and fertilizer.

“The program reaches 2 million cotton farmers, and they are farming 15 percent of all the world’s cotton,” Kobori says of the cotton initiative. “That may not seem like a large amount, but the initiative has only been around for eight years and we’ve gotten to 15 percent. We believe because we’re big and global, we can influence the industry to scale sustainability.”

Its WasteLess program features products made of 20 percent recycled plastic bottles, and to date, the company says, it has used 11.9 million recycled bottles for its products. By removing water from finishing stone washes or combining multiple wet-cycle processes, Levi’s has reduced its water usage by more than 2 billion liters since instituting its WaterLess program in 2011.

Levi’s has also committed to achieving zero discharge of hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020. In 2016, it partnered with textile technology startup Evrnu to create the world’s first pair of jeans using five discarded cotton T-shirts to make new fiber, a process that uses 98 percent less water than virgin cotton products.

“The idea around the circular economy is how do you continue to produce products without consuming additional resources,” Kobori says. “One element is making sure you have the ability to take used clothing from consumers and turn it or use it in different ways.”

To that end, the company now fixes up secondhand Levi’s and resells them as authorized vintage jeans. “You get twice the use and life out of a product you manufacture and you don’t have to consume any additional resources for your consumers,” Kobori says. “And today that is the most sustainable approach. Make something that is durable.”


Other major brands are making strides. In April, REI, the outdoor equipment and clothing retailer, issued an exhaustive set of product standards that each of the more than 1,000 brands it sells must abide by. The move, says Greg Gausewitz, REI’s manager of product sustainability, was an effort to “help scale those best practices and spread them over the partners, leading and learning with our own brands.”

Gausewitz says progress has been made. “We’ve seen the Sustainable Apparel Coalition help other companies get aligned,” he says. “And it’s been a good example of how the industry is today — that you get H&M, known for fast fashion, and us, known for more durable, technical products, all in the same room. In meetings and conversations at SAC you see a lot of brands that weren’t necessarily there before.”

H&M has a mixed record. The world’s second-largest clothing manufacturer, it was the first fashion company to introduce garment collecting globally in 2013. It has made worthy efforts at sustainability, but some say they might not matter if the company continues to produce the millions of clothes it does. (H&M won’t say how many garments it makes.)

“H&M is a good example for being on track with chemical management,” says Kirsten Brodde, global project lead of Greenpeace International’s Detox My Fashion campaign. “But still being a fast-fashion giant will never be sustainable.”

Furthermore, says Brodde, the fashion company incinerates new clothes it can’t sell. “H&M and Burberry admitting burning stock means the end of the silence on textile waste. This practice of destroying perfectly marketable goods is the logical consequence of their mass production and points to the key challenge that the industry needs to (address): how to slow down, to respect people and the planet.”

In an email, H&M said, “Only products that have failed to fulfill safety regulations and cannot be re-used or recycled are sent for destruction.”

The new plastic commitment’s targets, which will be reviewed every 18 months, include eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and moving away from single-use plastics to a reuse model. They also include working to ensure all plastics are recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 — in effect, a circular plastics economy. Brands must publish their progress annually. San Francisco’s Everlane announced its own effort about a week before this multi-company pact.


All this helps, Brodde says, but there’s only one true road to sustainability.

“The current discourse depicts that society can continue to make, buy and discard as much fashion as it likes — we just have to be smarter about doing so. Underlying that is a paradigm of continued expansion and overheated production that remains untouched. We need to stop thinking about growth and speed and start thinking about extending the lifespan of clothing to slow down and limit our excessive wasting of precious natural resources.”

Levi’s Kobori agrees. “In a truly closed loop, circular clothing system, raw materials would not come from cotton fields but from consumers’ closets,” he says.

“We believe that owning quality product for longer — and integrating business models along the way to both enable that durability, while supporting business viability — is key to addressing unchecked consumption.”

Mandy Behbehani is a freelance writer in Marin County. Email: style@sfchronicle.com.

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Editor’s Note
This is a great article by Mandy Behbehani which recaps some of the issues this Blog has highlighted about the problems of Fast Fashion.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans threw out 11.9 tons of clothing and footwear in 2015. Half of all of our fashion is disposed of in under one year. Let me repeat that: “Half of all of our fashion is disposed of in under a year!” In fact 8% of all Greenhouse gases comes from the production of apparel and footwear. Apparel production is also contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals which is later discharged into our waterways.
But there is good news, new companies are  starting promising to be sustainable and some old companies like Levi’s, REI and H & M are making major strides into becoming more sustainable. Maybe there is hope, but it will take an alteration of people’s recent “traditional” thinking of fashion.
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10
May
15

The price is low. The quality is high. So why doesn’t anyone want one of these T-shirts?

The price is low. The quality is high. So why doesn’t anyone want one of these T-shirts?.

The following article was posted on Upworthy. It is an article about the price of Fast Fashion. The above link has the video of the experience.

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When it comes to fashion, most of us are on the lookout for something stylish that doesn’t necessarily break the bank.

And we’re in luck because it seems like fashion just happens to get less expensive by the day.

A $5 T-shirt? Great! A $10 dress? Wonderful! These are the things smart shoppers and bargain-hunters stay on the lookout for.

But have you ever wondered how stores are able to sell clothes so cheap? Like, really thought about it?

To be completely honest, I hadn’t given it much thought. A shirt is a shirt, and the only trip I thought about was from the rack to my closet and not about the journey it took to make its way to the rack.

If I knew what went into making my clothes, I just know I’d be upset.

And it makes me even more upset to think that companies aren’t giving me an affordable option other than to feel guilty about the clothes I buy.

Because sometimes that path involves sweatshops or child labor. Workers sometimes make just pennies an hour and are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Well, one group is putting the stories of the workers who make the clothes we see on the racks in our favorite department stories front and center, hoping that companies will choose to become more transparent about where their clothes come from.

Fashion Revolution, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing transparency in the fashion industry, recently conducted a social experiment involving a vending machine and some cheap T-shirts.

T-shirts in the vending machine were being sold for just 2€ (roughly $2.25). It was a quality product at an amazing price, so why wasn’t anyone actually buying them?

When picking a size, shoppers were given a digital introduction to the people who made the shirt they were about to buy, along with some details about their working conditions.

A look of shock covered the shoppers’ faces as they learned about the long hours and low pay these people made.

Shoppers were then asked whether they still wanted the shirt. They all decided to donate the money instead.

Suddenly, the shirt that looked like such a great deal had been tainted by the truth behind it. For most of us, we simply don’t know the backstory.

Fashion Revolution’s goal isn’t to shame consumers but to nudge businesses in the right direction.

By making themselves transparent, businesses hold themselves accountable and are more likely to make sure that the working conditions in factories and with suppliers meets the same standards they hold themselves to in public.

 

The group points to an April 2013 incident in which more than 1,100 people died in a Bangladesh garment factory as the driving force behind their push to improve working conditions.

Here’s how they describe the incident (and their goals) on their website.

“On 24 April 2013, 1133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands in one of the many ‘accidents’ that plague the garment industry.

***

We want to use the power of fashion to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. At the moment of purchase, most of us are unaware of the processes and impacts involved in the creation of a garment. We need to reconnect through a positive narrative, to understand that we aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships.

By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ we envisage a change in perspective that will lead to a deeper understanding.”

You (yes, you) can make a difference, and it’s easier than you might think.

Start by asking brands one very simple question: “Who made my clothes?”

Fashion Revolution breaks it down into a quick, four-step process.

  1. Take a selfie while wearing a brand’s clothes.
  2. Follow the brand on social media.
  3. Post your photo along with the message, “I want to thank the people who made my clothes, (brand). #whomademyclothes?”
  4. Ask others to do the same.

By doing this, we can play a role in holding the industry accountable. Consumers aren’t the cause of the problem, but we can be a big part of the solution.

This isn’t about boycotting brands but helping them become better global citizens. As Carry Somers, the founder of Fashion Revolution Day, told Marie Claire, she’s not asking people to boycott stores. Instead, she believes the industry needs to change from the inside.

And while brands might not be especially interested in hearing criticism from the people within the supply chain, they’re more than willing to listen to consumers. That’s how we can help.

29
Apr
15

▶ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion (HBO) – YouTube

▶ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion (HBO) – YouTube.

This funny 17 minute Video by John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” is really a like a culmination of all of my blog entries over the past three years : Fast Fashion, How companies avoid blame, child labor, slave labor, and the Bangladesh clothing factory tragedies.

06
Dec
14

We Buy An Obscene Amount Of Clothes. Here’s What It’s Doing To Secondhand Stores.

We Buy An Obscene Amount Of Clothes. Here’s What It’s Doing To Secondhand Stores..

Many of us can’t get enough of “fast fashion” — hyper-trendy clothing that moves from catwalk to retail floor at breakneck speed. While this is great for you rarely having to wear the same outfit, there are some serious implications of consuming clothes in ever-increasing volumes. What happens when you’re sick of your bedazzled loafers or upset that your $10 jeans are starting to wear out?

You likely turn to thrift shops. But are all of our discarded novelty tees and color-block cardigans really doing our favorite secondhand shops any favors? We set out to answer that question.
Thrift shops receive more clothes than they know what to do with.

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We love getting new stuff. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the U.S. generates around 25 billion pounds of brand-new textiles per year (around 85 percent of that eventually heads for landfills). Goodwill, Salvation Army and other secondhand stores get the remaining 15 percent, which certainly adds up.

One New York City Salvation Army store received about five tons per day in 2012. Last year, Salvation Army locations across the country took in 80 million pounds of clothing overall, according to Tim Raines, marketing manager for the organization. While stores aren’t exactly complaining — there are other avenues for excess textiles than resale stores, after all — the sheer volume of discarded, yet still wearable, fashions illustrates the way we view clothing these days: totally disposable.
Many of those clothes are items that were on-trend as recently as last season.

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“You get a clear sense of the overconsumption prevalent in most of the United States by frequenting thrift stores,” Susan Choi, who operates an Etsy shop for vintage clothing, told The Huffington Post. “It’s common to find items that were in trend only a year or two ago,” she wrote, “and a vast quantity of them.”

Maybe we just can’t help ourselves because clothing has gotten so insanely cheap. Back in 1901, the average household might spend 14 percent of its annual income on clothing, and now it’s just over three percent. It makes more sense for us to buy new instead of repairing or altering our old stuff — indeed, between 1900 and 2013, tailors in the U.S. declined from nearly 230,000 to just 21,400.

Erick Martinez of ARC Thrift Stores says that from the operations side, that’s both a blessing and a curse. “Today’s fast fashion does tend to show its wear sooner,” he said.
When there are too many clothing donations, items are turned into rags or end up in landfills.

secondhand clothing

As much as 80 percent of all donations to charity thrift stores are reclaimed by textile recyclers, a portion of which becomes wiping rags or polishing cloths, the executive director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), a trade organization, told NPR. Unsurprisingly, the rag industry is a booming — and cutthroat — business that doesn’t totally behoove the secondhand industry. Certain street-side bins and for-profit used clothing recycling ventures take donations that may otherwise have gone to thrift stores, so some items might head to the shredder instead of the racks.

To be fair, the rag industry also helps thrift shops. Even if donations can’t be sold in their stores, at least the organization may profit slightly by selling them for other uses and, in the case of charities, pass on that revenue to people in need. In 2013, the U.S. exported about 860,000 tons of secondhand apparel to other countries, according to Department of Commerce stats. It typically gets packed into large bales, sorted by the condition it’s in and sold at markets — sometimes for more than the U.S. thrift store asking price.
Fast fashion is even competing with thrift stores.

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Some stores say an influx of recent trends helps them remain relevant in the eyes of consumers. But when customers can buy new and even more current styles for around the same price as used, why go thrift shopping at all?

“Forever 21 is not great news for us,” Bill Gover, vice president of merchandising and production at the NYC-based Housing Works, told HuffPost. In fact, such stores are competition. Many fast fashions end up at the organization’s warehouse where, for $25, customers pack whatever they can into a bag. (Goodwill has a similar operation in Texas, where excess clothing is sent to Goodwill’s Blue Hangar store where customers sort through massive bins.) To compete, Gover explained, he’s trying to teach employees to look out for “on-trend” vintage — older items that line up with current fashion trends and can fetch a slightly higher price because they’re better made.

Elizabeth Cline, author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion,” lamented that, no matter the manufacturer, our view of clothing needs to change. “No matter where consumers shop, even if it’s an H&M,” Cline told The Huffington Post, “I think the key is not thinking of clothing as disposable. Clothing has a life cycle and we have to take responsibility for it.”

Correction: The title of Elizabeth Cline’s book has been amended from “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Fast Fashion” to “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion.” Language was also amended so as not to suggest all excess secondhand clothing is shredded. We apologize for the oversight.

Editor’s Note: Remember to buy quality – that usually means American-made as well (well, Italian is pretty good as far as clothing goes).  If you keep buying cheap stuff, you will always have to replace it over and over again.

 

21
Apr
14

Why men’s shirts today fall apart after 30 washes | Mail Online

Why men’s shirts today fall apart after 30 washes | Mail Online. Story from Mail Online, an English magazine, written by Guy Walter

Why Men’s Shirts Today Fall Apart After 3o Washes

By Guy Walters

 Last Saturday marked the annual spring cleaning of the Walters household. This is a process accompanied by much childish wailing and gnashing of teeth, some of which comes from the children, but mostly from me.

I am a compulsive hoarder. Redundant pieces of electronic equipment, old magazines, handleless mugs — all are kept on the grounds that ‘they might be useful one day’.

But what infuriates Mrs Walters most is my insistence on keeping all of my clothes, no matter how dreadfully unfashionable or old. On Saturday, much to my annoyance, she proceeded to fillet my collection of sartorial disasters. Out went a pair of lurid tartan trousers. Straight to the bin went about nine odd socks.

Fair enough.

Rip off: Guy Walters believes that the quality of shirts is now so poor they only last for 30 washes

 

And then she started on the shirts, of which I have sackfuls.

‘How about this one?’ she asked, holding up a navy-blue number from a gentleman’s outfitters in Essex. ‘But I only bought that last year,’ I bleated.

‘You can’t have done,’ she replied. ‘Just look at it.’

I took the shirt and studied it. She had a point. It was knackered. There were holes at the elbows, the collar was frayed, the stitching around the pocket was working loose.

 

It looked as though it was ten years old, but I could have sworn it was bought last summer.

Reluctantly, I tossed it onto the growing pile that was destined for destruction. By now, Mrs Walters was shortlisting yet another of my favourite shirts.

This was a purple-and-white striped affair from Thomas Pink, that I distinctly remembered buying at Heathrow Airport in the autumn.

‘Now there’s nothing wrong with that,’ I protested.

Again, an inspection revealed otherwise. The panel that held all the buttons had come away from the front, and the stitching around the cuffs was loose.

James Sherwood, author of Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke, says our desire for cheap fashion is responsible for the decline in quality. Pictured, Savile Row in London

 

Over the next 20 minutes, we went through my entire collection, and earmarked no fewer than eight shirts for disposal. When I looked at the pile, it became apparent that most of them were relatively new — less than two years old.

This perplexed me because I, like many men, am under the impression that a shirt should last more than a few years, and certainly more than a few months.

At first, I suspected that it was because they were cheap, and this was partly true. Some had cost no more than £30 each, and they looked decidedly shabby.

The labels showed that some of them had been made in the Far East. Was that the explanation?

That all these cheap clothes were made by overworked children in vast sweatshops where every corner had been cut on stocks?

But the more expensive shirts weren’t much better off. The ones I own from Thomas Pink and other upmarket brands looked just as distressed as those that had cost a third of the price.

I was beginning to see a trend — new shirts, no matter how posh, don’t seem to last as long as the ones I used to buy. Once, buttons were sewn on more securely, shirt panels were held together with tighter stitches, and the fabric was thicker. I can remember some of my grandfather’s shirts — they were built like the Queen Mary.

Today, according to an organisation called the ‘International Fabricare Institute’, shirts are designed to last no longer than two years, or some 30 to 40 washes. That doesn’t seem very long to me.

James Sherwood, author of Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke, says our desire for cheap fashion is responsible for the decline in quality.

Many shirts are manufactured in the Far East. File picture

Many shirts are manufactured in the Far East. File picture

 

‘The men who bemoan the declining quality and longevity of their shirts only have themselves to blame,’ he says. ‘Can they seriously expect to buy three to five discounted shirts from T. M. Lewin for £100 and think these mass-produced, Chinese ready-mades will last a lifetime?’

Men like my grandfather, with his stiffly, starched shirts, knew how to keep their wardrobes smart for years. ‘Our elders and betters, who had less money and choice but more savvy, would buy shirts with detachable collars and cuffs — always the first to fray and stain. These can be laundered more regularly and discarded when too far gone,’ says Sherwood.

Only the most old-fashioned retailer’s sell separate collars and cuffs these days.

Sherwood believes that there are still good-quality, affordable shirts to be had on the High Street at M&S and John Lewis, but has reservations about the cheaper end of the market.  Uniqlo, H&M and Zara are, he says, terrific for T-shirts and jeans, but these pile-’em-high retailers can’t do justice to a shirt.

Shirts are yet another victim of our disposable society, in which obsolescence is built-in, and the idea of make-do-and-mend is considered quaint.

Professor Tim Cooper of Nottingham Trent University, whose field of research is ‘sustainable consumption’, observes that  ‘relentless novelty is the order of the day’. As a result, he says: ‘Today’s fashion is tomorrow’s junk.’

Tailor Gresham Blake, who has been making bespoke suits and shirts for 15 years, would agree. ‘It’s very sad — we’ve become so used to the cheap price of the High Street that everyone expects everything to get cheaper and cheaper. But it’s not sustainable.’

Even the smart shops in London’s Mayfair have sacrificed quality to keep their prices low, says Blake.  ‘They cut costs, buying material from China or India, use cheaper thread and use single stitching instead of double stitching.

‘For the smaller, bespoke producers cost-cutting like that doesn’t makes sense because you only save a small amount per shirt. But for the large producers the overall savings can be thousands.’

All I want are some decent ordinary shirts that will last me around five years, and won’t fall apart after a few spins in the washing-machine. I do, of course, know that tumble-dryers are the enemy of clothes, but sometimes they’re unavoidable.

Is my only option to get shirts made from the finest fabrics at vast expense by diligent old men with half-moon spectacles in Jermyn Street? There must be a retailer out there who can make shirts to last, with firmly sewn buttons, stiff collars and sturdy cuffs.

There is something profoundly depressing about the pile of shirts, so many of them made in Far Eastern factories, about be to banished from my wardrobe after only a year or two of wear. A sad sign of our throwaway society.

Editor’s Comment
 In our search for the cheapest price, we have given up all hope of quality. This is the dilemma that we have caused. This extreme lack of quality translates into clothes that falls apart, because they are made with such poor material and shoddy workmanship. This means today’s clothing has become almost semi-disposable. A good term has been coined for this phenomenon: it is called “Fast Fashion”. In our race to the bottom (looking for the cheapest at any cost), not only do we have to live with the new burden of disposable clothing, and the ever-increasing need for more landfills, but we now must live in a country with an eroded manufacturing base and a permanently injured economy.  Most of our country’s workers have been directly replaced by Asian children working overtime in factories for $17 per month in God-awful working conditions. That has been our pact with the Devil. It all happened when somebody asked God for two dollar T-shirts. Buy quality. Buy less fast fashion. Buy American. -Jack A.
17
Aug
13

Admit it. You love cheap clothes. And you don’t care about child slave labour – The Observer

Admit it. You love cheap clothes. And you don’t care about child slave labour | World news | The Observer. This is an excerpt from the article published by the Observer on July 27, 2013 written by Gethin Chamberlain: ” …(Western/American) consumers want to feel that they are being ethical. But they don’t want to pay more. They are prepared to believe in the brands they love. Companies know this. They know if they make the right noises about behaving ethically, their customers will turn a blind eye.

Children rescued from Bangladesh factories

Rescued children from trafficking, waiting for parents, in Bihar, India

So they come down on suppliers highlighted by the media. They sign up to the certification scheme… Look, they say, we are good guys now. We audit our factories. We have rules, codes of conduct, mission statements. We are ethical. BUT THEY ARE NOT. What they have done is purchase an ethical fig leaf.

In the last few years, companies have gotten smarter. It is rare now to find children in the top level of the supply chain, because brands know this is PR suicide. But the children are still there, stitching away in the backstreets of the slums.”

Editorial Conclusion

Companies could act truly ethical if it really had to. But, at this time, it is much easier to say false reassurances and blow smoke over the media after each disaster in Bangladesh or elsewhere than make real reforms. The companies realize that their is a lot of child labor going on, it is a very well-known and well-documented fact, yet they don’t want you to know that they know all this – they believe that the American public is so gullible. Until the consumer actually stops buying their products will companies change their behavior.

In July, Walmart, the GAP, Kohl’s and other US retailers signed an agreement as an alternative to the European agreement (according to the New York Times) to make Bangladesh factories safer. It is much less comprehensive, and doesn’t promise any definitive monetary commitments to Bangladesh. Plus, the onus is on Bangladeshi factory owners to improve their workplaces. Look, this American plan is pure smoke and mirrors. The American companies are again trying to say it is not their problem, even though they are directly employing these factories and factory workers.

Maybe we are seeing inroads with ethical spending. It could be that Walmart, one of the worst offenders of ethical behavior, which has recently posted disappointing sales, may be the victim of boycotts of consumers that feel ethically compromised by shopping there. It is just possible. Maybe, or it could just be wishful thinking. I, also, like to think that China’s disappointing export numbers are due to more people buying American.

Buy ethically made products, avoid products that are made unethically and the stores that promote them. Buy American.

26
Jul
13

Disposable Clothing – Filling Up The Landfills

Mainpoint: Much of today’s clothing which is made overseas is designed to last only a couple of wearings – like disposable clothes which were originally designed for doctor’s offices or factories that work with chemicals.

Fashion has always been about being  trendy. If it were up to Fashion magazines, nobody would ever wear the same piece of clothing twice. Since the beginning of time when Fashion houses came into vogue (no pun intended), the 1800s and early 1900’s, they have created clothing for the seasons. At first, there were really only two seasons, Winter and Spring/Summer. But as time passed, Fashion houses have further divided the fashion seasons into Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. They have since divided them even further, early Summer, Late Fall, etc. In fact, you would think that it was the Fashion Industry that created the concept of disposable clothing (Nope, it was the mega-chain stores).

The Early Years of Manufacturing – the 1800’s to the mid 1900’s

However, most of the United States, in the 1800’s – mid 1900’s, was agrarian, rural and had no need for fashionable clothing. The people in the cities, for the most part, also did not fall prey to the fashion advertising as they had more common sense when it comes to money than today’s consumer. The saying: “A penny saved is a penny earned” was taken seriously, perhaps because any money earned was often back-breaking and labor intensive. And, of course, the Great Depression further reinforced the sentiment that every penny was valuable. So, our great-grandparents and grandparents were far more stingy with their hard earned cash. They looked for clothing that was durable, well-constructed, and would last for years. (They were made in the United States, of course.) There were the occasional “fashionable” flings, but often their choices were fashion with garments well-constructed, that could still last for years. For the most part, the message from the Fashion houses fell on deaf ears.

1980s

Fast forward to 1980. The Fashion houses spend millions of dollars on television, radio and magazines to convince consumers to buy their products. And for the most part, the 1980s consumers are starting to spend more on fashionable clothing due to money that is easier to earn, (not as much hard labor). The United States continues to become more urbanized, less of people’s time is spend in “work” uniforms. With regards to the clothing industry, although most of the clothing was still made in the United States, but there was a big push to move the garment factories from the centuries-old traditional manufacturing plants in the Northeast United States to cheaper-labor and non-union Southern States and, then, to countries with even cheaper labor and no history of manufacturing. Simultaneously, it was the beginning of the rapid expansion of chains, franchises, and Mega-stores. “Consumerism” soon becomes the way to track the economy. And finally, people start to shop, just to chase away the blues-“Retail Therapy.” The 1980’s start us on a pathway that slowly suffocates the U.S. economy and the middle class as many of our traditional American jobs are siphoned off to other countries.

H & M "Disposable Clothes"

H & M “Disposable Clothes”

The Present

Now, 98% of clothing found in the United States is manufactured elsewhere. A majority of people in the United States have never even owned a well-made quality garment. For many people, wearing a garment just once or twice is sufficient, because the current line of clothing will always look worn and faded after one run through the washing machine. The reason for the quick decay is poor quality materials, poor workmanship and use of cheap chemicals that give the materials a temporary softer feel and brightens colors which wash off quickly.

Dry Cleaning services are, also, on the decline because people don’t want to pay for a service that costs as much as the original price of their cheap clothes. Disposable clothes is the order of the day. The Fashion houses could never even had anticipated this, they were happy when people would buy clothes for every new season.

The New Solution

Disposable clothing isn’t good for you, it’s not good for the landfills, it’s not good for the environment, it’s not good for American manufacturing. And, at this very moment, giant ships with tons of disposable clothing from overseas are landing on our shores every hour. The new solution is to buy good quality garments and goods. By paying a little more now, you will get years of service, saving yourself a quite a bit of money in the process. To spot a quality garment, check the label, if it says “Made in USA”, you greatly increase your chances of buying quality, compared to Made in: China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, etc. Buy American, buy quality.

Article from Grist: H & M wants the clothes you throw out to be more sustainable.




July 2019
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