“Fast fashion.” “McFashion.” “Landfill Fashion.”
These are terms commonly referred to the constant flux of quickly-made clothing that flows into big, well known brand’s stores. This is clothing many people buy for no more than $20-25 USD at most, and it’s aimed at bringing quick style to the masses.
It used to be that department stores purchased clothing from a manufacturer in the traditional two-season fashion tradition, and naturally, would mark up their prices to meet their costs. That changed back in the 1970s, when retailers started creating the clothing themselves. On top of this, computer technology has changed things so that the process from design to completed outfit is much, much faster, giving the fast fashion industry the reputation for speed.
That reputation for speed, combined with the ability to sell clothing for really low prices, has conditioned people to want fashion that changes within a heartbeat.
All this sounds great, but, as Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons New School for Design, says, the clothing is often crudely constructed, falling apart at the seams, quite literally. Fast fashion ultimately aims for quantity, not quality. Instead of aiming for classic mix and match pieces that will last a long time, people have been trained to go for what’s hot each month, as opposed to the tried-and-true, two-season fashion tradition that spawned high-class, high-quality labels like Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent.
What’s more, fast fashion has taken a toll on the environment, using outrageously high quantities of water, and creating such shoddy products that pieces of polyester from winter parkas are ending up in lakes and rivers from people’s washing machines. All this and likely putting more CO2 in the atmosphere from all the clothing shipments to the US, UK and Canada from slave-labor places like China. Then there are all the trucks delivering clothing here and there across the UK and North America. This doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture.
Slow Clothing And Emerging Designers
This is where the Slow Movement, which includes “Slow Clothing” and emerging designers comes in.
Emerging designers, especially in the slow clothing movement, are those unknown, or little-known designers who seek to create one-of-a-kind, limited edition designs that are truly unique and beautiful, with keeping an eye on sustainability, quality and the desire to create pieces that will speak to the person’s soul and individual tastes, as opposed to look-a-like shirts, skirts and pants that everyone and their sister will be wearing.
The truly beautiful thing about this is that, like emerging designers themselves, the slow clothing movement is growing. Who doesn’t want to wear one-of-a-kind pieces that they got from a true artisan who is devoted to their craft?
Jewelry is one such avenue for emerging designers to help people express their indivuality, as it is often mixed-media, using metal, stones, gems and other materials to create unique items that anyone would want to show off to their friends. Who w
ants to buy some generic item from Wal-Mart when you can go to a specialty website that caters to the true individual soul who wants something made well, and with sustainability in mind?
The Beauty of Quality, Sustainability and Truly Personal Customer Service
Now, it seems fast fashion is catching the hint that they need to change their ways, but because they’ve got money and advertising power on their side, it will still be a challenge for emerging designers. But emerging designers can take the sustainability and ethics bull by the horns and make it a true selling point for their clothing and other fashion wares. Emerging designers can sell the point of the limited edition clothing being part of something good for the planet while doing it with a style that’s all their own.
Emerging designers also have the value-add capability of customizations, repairs and superior customer service. These go a long way towards holding people’s attention, to say nothing of building classic seller-to-customer relationships just like your great-great grandfathers and great-great-grandmothers experienced, especially in those days of having “bespoke,” or custom-tailored items.
Only now, emerging designers have the advantage of the internet, where they can market and build their specialty brands. With limited edition items, new designers can bring back the beautiful era of quality-made clothing, specially tailored to the individual, all while using 21st-century social media to build their brand.
The benefit and beauty to all this is that emerging designers can, through their personal connections with people, be innovative and flexible, by way of testing and launching new product ideas, markets and business models. This way they can be creative while still giving sustainability and artisanal quality a foothold in the fashion and design market.
There are quite a number of emerging designers from all over the world joining in this movement, particularly from the UK and United States. Being an emerging designer in the face of fast fashion is a beautiful challenge to be met, and this is also the beauty of independent enterprise: emerging designers get to show their creative spark, as well as tailor their business to meet their customers’ needs and desires, all the while providing the quality people have deserved, but have never gotten, from fast fashion.
All of this is the beauty and value of buying limited edition items that are well-made and last a very long time both in quality and in that ineffable timeless sense that classic fashion pieces have. You’re not going to get that from a “fast fashion special” that will simply fall apart in the washing machine, or have parts that won’t work after maybe three months.
The time is now for fast fashion to step aside and let the beautiful traditions of quality, timelessness and unique creativity as well as the ever-pressing need for taking care of our planet, to rule the day. The time is now for emerging designers who care about creativity and custom work, as well as the planet, to step up and be seen.