You’re walking in the mall just minding your business when suddenly your heart is captivated by a really cool Levis denim jacket that has all these fire details from dope patchwork to intricate embroidery. You stop and go inside to get a closer look only to find not only does the jacket look like quality but it also feels like it too. You then proceed to try it on and what you know, it’s a perfect fit. Then finally, you work up the courage and the strength to look at that price tag. R1500.00. WTF. You start to hyperventilate, just a little. Your increased breathing rate is met by a slight uncomfortable itchy feeling in the armpit area. Then you think to yourself, “I mean, I can get roughly the same jacket at an H&M or Cotton On for cheaper, right?” Wrong!
This article is here to act as that little annoying voice in your head that tells you, “No, but the jacket is quality. You should buy it cause it’s an investment.” With all that’s happened over the years regarding the incremental fall of fast fashion from the collapse of the Bangladesh factory where H&M products were manufactured to Forever 21 filing for bankruptcy just recently this year, it is clear that the system is far from sustainable. There is a reason why these fast fashion products are cheaper. Retail giants use inexpensive labour from places where it is easy to manoeuvre around the fair working laws. In record timing, large orders of apparel products can be mass produced at a fraction of the actual price. It is unfortunate however that the cost of it all is felt most by those making the clothes with many taking home as little R200 ($12) a month after working 13 hours a day without breaks. Not to mention the poor working conditions.
Environmentally, the effects of fast fashion are just as bad. The fashion industry is the second largest global polluting industry after oil. This is due to the fact that toxic waste waters are being dumped into rivers from textile factories. Within the toxic water, dangerous chemicals and substances lurk such as mercury, arsenic and lead. These substances are dangerous not only for the natural environment around but also the humans who rely on rivers for drinking water.
At this point it’s not a matter of people don’t know what to do but are people doing what they should be doing to make the situation better. We’ve heard it all before. Recycle your clothes, thrift more, wash your clothes less and invest in quality apparels. But do we do it? It’s a matter of taking action towards securing a brighter future for generations to come. This is where slow fashion comes in.
Not only is this sustainable approach to fashion more ethical but it is in the end less costly for consumers if you think about it from an investment perspective. Many often hesitate to choose slow fashion simply because it is too expensive, when in actual fact it is costing consumers more. Each year we throw out masses of clothes due to poor quality purposes and our pursuit for the latest trends. Slow fashion decreases the speed of apparel production, consumption and its disposal. It’s all about appreciating the purchase of clothes and buying with the intention that the clothing will last longer both in style and quality. Therefore adopting classic styled clothes that are made with durability in mind is key.
So next time you are faced with the decision of buying cheap vs buying expensive, choose expensive because it’s worth it.