The consequence of the production and consumer society is “fast” fashion. It is due to the economic factor, striving to produce more, manufacturing cheap clothes. Increased production dramatically influenced the consumption of fashion clothes. It raised the desire for a higher income in the fashion industry and producing from poor-quality materials. Such brands as Zara and H&M became flagships of “fast fashion”. The number of such brands is increasing. People started to buy 60% as many clothes, many pieces of which will never be worn.
Experts say people will be consuming more clothes.
Different international organisations and companies annually conduct studies on environment pollution by the textile industry to evaluate the level of pollution. The Greenpeace organisation published research on “fast fashion”. It says that clothes sales rocketed from 1 trillion USD in 2002 to 1, 8 trillion USD in 2015. It is expected to be 2,1 trillion USD in 2025.
The statistics of uneven consumption in different countries is interesting. In the countries of North America, a person buys 16 kilograms of new clothes which equal to 64 T-Shirts or 16 jeans. In the countries of the Middle East and Africa, people buy significantly less – 2 kilograms. Chinese people consume 6.5 kilograms per capita. Thus, on average, every person in the world buys approximately 5 kilograms of clothes which can grow up to 11-16 kilograms.
Unfortunately, there are no statistics on clothes consumption in kilograms for Ukraine. Try to answer this question about yourself.
In general, the consumer goods industry significantly hurts the environment. The textile industry produces more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emission. This number is significantly higher than the emissions caused by air travel and seafaring. Colouring fabrics requires using chemicals which stay in clothes. It also has a negative impact on the environment.
In undeveloped countries, textile industry workers get a tiny salary. Conditions of works are irregular and dangerous. They sometimes lead to different accidents. On March 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building of garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh. More than a thousand people died, and more than two thousand were injured.
International organisations are concerned about clothes consumption numbers, so they have offered actions to change the concept of consuming.
At the end of the XX century, scientists foresaw a garbage patch in the ocean. This forecast came true, there is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Eastern Garbage Continent or Pacific trash vortex. However, some researches reject its existence, however, they don’t reject that there is trash in oceans. Ocean streams bring garbage into one place, creating certain areas and islands which are drifting through the ocean.
Plastic takes much time to decompose, its elements stay in the water, that’s why in some regions the concentration of zooplankton is several times bigger than the norm.
Plastic not only pollutes the ocean, but it is also poisonous for everything living. Animals think plastic is food and hurt their digestion system. Media constantly show awful reports of dead mammals and birds having a shocking amount of trash in their stomachs. On March 16, 2019, a whale was found on the coast of the Philippines. Its stomach contained 40 kilograms of plastic bags. According to scientists, 99 % of birds will have had plastic in their stomachs by 2050.
The environment problem seems not to concern the fashion industry. But it is not true. Vice versa, the fashion industry takes care of the environment by dramatically decreasing production from natural fabrics, fur, and leather. A new trend is fabrics from recycled materials or clothes made of old clothes and waste.
“Fast fashion” stands against sustainable fashion – a rational consumption and ethical attitude to natural, animal and human resources.
Modern garment manufacturers are gradually starting to use recycled fabrics. Recycled fabrics are used by Girlfriend Collective, Patagonia, La Perla, Stella McCartney, Adidas, Speedo, and others. The brand Dsquared2 named one of its collections Recycled.
There are two the most popular techniques for producing new clothes from the wasted ones: upcycling and recycling. Upcycling is the usage of old recyclable materials for creating new clothes. Recycling is converting waste materials into new ones.
Most brands use fabrics from recycled materials, plastic, in particular. Technologies of producing such materials let enhance the environment and create new products without using new resources. Regenerated nylon, produced of waste can be recycled infinite times and won’t lose its quality. Recycling starts from collecting the recyclables such as fishnets, pieces of fabrics, carpets and industrial plastic from training ranges and oceans from all over the world. This waste is then sorted and washed for renewing nylon. The process of radical regeneration and cleaning turns nylon waste into virgin-quality nylon. Regenerated nylon is recycled into yarns which are used for manufacturing clothes and interior objects.
In 2015, a Spanish company Ecoalf entered the world fashion industry. This brand uses fabrics made of plastic waste taken from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. In collaboration with a designer Sybilla, they have produced 10 colourful nylon raincoats made of fishnets.
In 2016, another Spanish brand Sea2see presented luxury glasses and frames made of plastic, fishnets, and ropes brought from the coast of Catalonia. The same year, an American brand Girlfriend Collective also presented its first collection. It produces sports clothes: leggings, sports bras, T-shirts, cycling pants, which are made of recycled bottles in Taiwan where the trash issue is dramatic. In 2016, Stella McCartney, the German brand Adidas and an organisation Parley for the Oceans presented a limited collection of trainers made of ocean trash which was collected on the coast of the Maldives. Within the course of 4 years, the production has increased: in 2017, 1 million trainers were produced, in 2018 – 5 million, and 11 million are expected to be manufactured in 2019. Almost at the same time, another famous brand Nike launched similar trainers collection made of ocean waste. However, the company started to produce clothes made of completely recycled polyester yet in 2010. Then, Nike created a football uniform for the national teams of Brazil, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Plastic bottles were collected from Japanese and Taiwan training ranges. The brand created clothes for football, basketball and hockey teams from all over the world. As of 2018, the company recycled about 5 billion bottles.
In May 2918, Nike together with National Geographic presented a limited clothes collection for travellers and street style fans. All the clothes were made of plastic bottles. To launch the collection, more than 72.5 tonnes of trash were collected from lakes and rivers of national parks Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, and Grand Teton.
An American brand Rothy’s which produces women’s shoes has also joined the eco-tendency. They use recycled plastic bottles, old shoes, vegan and non-toxic glues. Bottles collected from the streets and seas became a part of a collection of a Netherland brand G-Star RAW x Pharrell Williams. Since 2016, it has been creating eco-friendly clothes.
An American brand Vitamin A is among younger brands who use recycled plastic. Amalia Stevens, a founder, and designer, has patented the EcoLux™ technology which is used for creating luxury swimsuits.
Recycled goods have a symbol – three arrows in the form of a triangle. A Moebius strip – a surface with one side which seems to have two layers – was a porotype for it. The sense of the symbol is that recycling is infinite.
To inform people about sustainable fashion, different flash mobs on social networks are arranged. An organization Fashion Revolution has launched an action #WhoMadeMyClothes. It offers people to take label selfies and tag a manufacturer under the hashtag. If a brand hasn’t answered, we can question their eco-friendliness.
Ukrainian fashion is gradually joining the world trends. A brand KSENIASCHNAIDER has recently launched an eco-denim collection together with a fabrics manufacturer ISKO. The brand’s owners say, “We can’t ignore the global warming and environment pollution today. Overproduction and overconsumption are one of the key factors which pollute the environment. That’s why every brand and person has to be responsible for own habits.” The founders of the brand also told Opinion that a “textiles out of which clothes are made are important for most designers and consumers. That’s why the usage of ecological materials will increase anyway.”
One of the trendiest pair of jeans demi-denims is produced from three pairs of jeans from dense denim which are bought at local second hands. The process of converting wasted jeans is thorough: at first, they are manually taken to pieces and then new models are created. The designers have also offered furs made of recycled dense denim. The brand KSENIASCHNAIDER recycles about 5 tonnes of jeans every year.
The brand collaborates with the ISKO company which produces high-technology fabrics – soft denim for sports suits and denim which looks like leather.
ISKO EarthFit ™ fabrics are made of organic and recycled cotton. Every stage of production is controlled in order to provide ecological and ethical attitude. Recycled cotton is made of wasted jeans and plastic. The KSENIASCHNAIDER x ISKO collection was launched in 2019 and produced in the Martelli shop. The peculiarity of this technology lies in the secondary use of water for washing denim. Also, instead of chlorine, a high-technology process involving ozone is used.
Models are made of the ISKO Earth Fit material, which is manufactured from organic cotton, recycled wasted cotton clothes and recycled polyester from plastic bottles. A brand re-beau produces fashion jewelry in the same way.
However, most Ukrainian eco-brands create their collections basing on upcycling or recycling. Among them, a brand UliUlia which converts wasted leather, wool, chamois leather, linen into new clothes and accessories.
Yasia Khomenko, a designer of RCR Khomenko and Church of Upcycling brands, gives a new life to clothes by upcycling and decorating them with her own prints. A brand Golub Upcycled Denim Project produces fancy clothes made of upcycled denim. They make new trousers, skirts, shirts, dresses. A brand Woolberry creates bags and accessories from recycled felt.
A Raw Flaw brand manufactures bags and accessories from water-repelled paper which can be recycled several times.
A platform Sustainable Fashion Pad was founded to spread the idea of sustainable fashion across Ukraine. It was created for sharing experience and telling about eco-friendly Internet-shops.
In 2019, a Ukrainian brand U-R-SO presented a swimsuit made of modern high-technology textile which was created by a western company ECONYL from plastic and abandoned fishnets that were taken from the bottom of the ocean. Recycled nylon threads are used as regular nylon. It is used for quality biflex manufacturing. It is sea and chlorine waterproof and has an SPF 50 (sun protection factor).
There are different colours of such nylon fabric so it lets to create trendy swimsuits.
The brand has created some models made of recycled materials: one-piece and two-piece swimsuits, each made of two types of fabrics and colours. Thus, the brand created a new fancy form of a classical swimsuit. The peculiarity of the swimsuits lies in the fabric which is elastic, with a push fit and the effect of “the second” skin.
The idea of such materials is accounted for by the demands of a modern world – to create ecological clothes. The designers said that “there is too much plastic in the world. It is good that a part of it is recycled. Plastic which bothers oceans is turned into swimsuits which let us interact with nature, become its part. It is a nice and true story which inspires.”
What else can we do? How to choose clothes properly? Follow the trends or ecological safety? Everybody has to answer this question. We have to find the balance between environment and fashion, saving environment and innovations in fashion. Care for the environment and rational consumption are becoming trendy in the world.
By Olena Skalatska
Illustrated by Nastasia Petrova