Between consumer frenzy and minimalist trends
Today, the textile industry produces 10% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is one of the most polluting industries even if it is less exposed than those related to the automobile or energy. Nevertheless, we realize that society is becoming aware of its impact and it has even become a target topic for the media.
Report of the fashion world
The fashion industry has not evolved for decades, only the production quantities have increased. Today, brands are doing more with less quality. The generation of millennials has developed in overconsumption, in advertising and in a form of consumption pleasure. Gauthier Borsarello, creative director for De Fursac, explains that “young people today consume more than before, because they have more access to consumption, the desire has always been the same, but the offer is much easier to access.” In 15 years, our consumption of clothing has doubled.
Fashion, a colossal market estimated at 150 billion euros, sets the pace for our daily lives and this pace is only going to accelerate. Some climate experts estimate that the production of clothing should be divided by three by 2050.
The evolution of the relationship with clothes
Dressing up is above all a physiological need. But fashion is also used as an expression of identity. Indeed, style is a way to express one’s identity and clothing becomes a tool for self promotion. Immediately, the need to be inserted into society and to be stylish in all circumstances is felt by consumers. Knowing this, manufacturers have started to develop the world of fast fashion.
It has exploded in recent years. It corresponds to an express fashion using controversial methods, because in most cases, workers are underpaid, production rates are infernal, safety is not respected … In addition, fast-fashion brands are often brands that have a production structure very fragmented with many subcontractors without “retail”, that is to say, without development of real resale activity which allows more profit.
Consequently, we notice a real degradation of the quality of clothing. Those of the fast-fashion are often of less good quality and these clothes cannot have several lives, because they deteriorate too quickly. In 15 years, the lifespan of clothing has decreased by 50%.
Faced with this situation, some people cry overdose and raise their voices to demand a more reasonable fashion. A new trend is emerging and is gradually taking hold in the daily lives of consumers who aspire to more simplicity and sobriety. Second hand, upcycling, short circuits, relocalization and many other ideas are now almost omnipresent in the textile universe. We see the emergence of the slow-fashion trend guided by a change in the way we consume and by more ethical and sustainable values.
While the dominant model is that of overconsumption, more and more people aspire to minimalism. This is not easy to achieve, as it is a behavior that is outside of any social norm. But to strive for it is already to make an effort.
The idea is not to stop buying, but to consume less and better. We can see the development of more ethical and sustainable brands that propose, for example, only the pieces we need, the essentials, and that put aside the clothes whose need has been artificially created by the fashion world.
The interest now lies in deploying this new trend: buy less, but better. It’s a way of life more than a way of thinking or a profession, because you feel you are contributing to helping the world while developing a business. And for the majority of brands turned towards a more ethical and sustainable fashion, this trend is not only a marketing argument.
The challenges of slow-fashion
Nevertheless, we must be careful with greenwashing. Indeed, the big industrialists use the development of this new market to legitimize all their actions and hide all the practices of the sector when they are not necessarily ethical and ecological.
For example, they propose to customers to get rid of their old clothes and then take advantage of offers to buy new ones, which simply fuels the purchase of first hand.
More ethical techniques
Companies invested in more ethical and sustainable fashion are very careful about their transparency. Very often, they communicate as much information as possible about the production process of the clothes, the working conditions related to the production, the ecological impact, the origins of the materials used… A work that is not always easy to achieve. To give an example, we can only trace the origin of cotton to 70%.
Also no, upcycling is sometimes a technique developed by slow-fashion brands. They recycle used or wasted materials to create clothing. The manufacturing processes are not the same, but the purpose yes, that is, the production and sale of clothing.
The second hand is also a new trend gathering several practices such as the use of digital thrift stores to give a second life to its clothes.
The problem lies in the fact that we encourage consumers to become micro-merchants, we reproduce the marketing codes and we recreate a capitalist system. We resell the clothes we no longer wear to extend their life. But doing so in order to buy new ones makes us enter a vicious circle that does not produce any change.
A more sustainable future?
An ecological transition requires a change in practices. Of course, the State can act on certain levers to change mentalities and behaviors, but it is also up to consumers to make efforts to change their way of consuming in depth. This may force manufacturers to produce less, to develop an ecological conscience and to regulate their production.