At Issue we believe dressing is largely about self-expression and that it's an important element in self-esteem and personal confidence. If you don’t feel comfortable and confident in your clothes you won't convey confidence in your work. Alongside education, life experience and personal health, we believe this is an essential element that contributes to personal success.
However, the fast fashion trend has made clothing so cheap that consumers no longer have to think about their purchases and therefore make many “throw away” purchases (often with human and environmental consequences). In this blog post we will be discussing our philosophy on ethical production, the importance of conscious consumption, and choosing products that align with your personal values. So here we go!
The background: Where we are today
Recently “fast fashion” has become a mainstream term in response to the increasing availability of cheap clothing. Over the past decade, developments in technology and manufacturing, combined with the increased ease of trading between countries, has propelled many clothing brands onto the world stage. We in the Western World expect to be able to get the latest styles at whatever price we are willing to pay. The fulfillment of this expectation is driving the success of brands such as H&M and Zara.
At what cost: people, environment, resources
When you’re paying an exceptionally low price for an item of clothing there is usually a good reason why you’re getting a deal. Although you’re not paying the cost directly out of pocket, there’s a cost associated. This is where most people will drop off, if they are not close enough to the production of the product they will not see the impact to the community, the environment and the waste generated. Without seeing this “other cost” their behavior will not be impacted.
Consider this: if a family member was working for a company who produced fast fashion clothing and you saw the working conditions, knew the terrible pay, walked past the factory and saw the waste and environmental overflows, would you still purchase from that company? You would hope not!
Many people talk about this problem and try to fight the fashion industry on these topics. Unfortunately, we as humans are pretty short sighted and we’ll choose to pick up a cheap pair of jeans in our lunch hour as a “pick me up” or “reward” for a hard week. This blind consumption is the fuel for fast fashion.
Not convinced, how about the quality factor?
Ethics aside, let’s consider the quality. These fast fashion options are providing a low quality product knowing the consumer isn’t going to be wearing it more than a couple of times. This approach actually makes the item more expensive on a “cost per wear” basis due to the lack of longevity. If you purchase a higher quality items, you can expect to get longer wear and therefore your investment is spread over a longer period of time. The easiest comparison is a choice between a “cheap” chocolate bar and a slightly more expensive packet of almonds. One of these is technically cheaper but the other will keep you fueled for longer and therefore will delay the need for a meal sooner – making the almonds the better choice financially (not to mention healthier) when you look over the longer term.
We at Issue have many reasons for choosing to produce our clothing in New Zealand, including the ones mentioned above, but it’s not just about doing the right thing ethically and environmentally; it’s about doing the best thing for yourself. Most cheap clothing purchases are reactive and emotional (just like choosing the chocolate bar) and often they are regretted or are low quality. At Issue we would prefer you to not purchase immediately. In fact, we recommend you pause, look at your wardrobe, think about what you have, what you love and feel good wearing, and really think about what your next clothing investment can be. If you’re interested in changing your approach, we provide resources to get started, such as our Capsule Wardrobe Guide available here.
Whatever your motivation we ask that you take a moment and consider how you purchase clothing today. Is this how you want to continue? Are you comfortable and happy with the way you purchase?
Share this post via Facebook and let’s start a broader conversation together. We’ve all seen the impact of the healthy food movement, let’s start the healthy wardrobe movement.