Will Fast Fashion Kill Couture?

 

The golden age of Fast Fashion is over, and has left a multitude of scars behind in its wake. The very nature of this cheap commodity driven manufacturing engine, with consumers hot to participate in this 'buy as much as you can market and throw what you don't want away' marketplace, has left wounds deeper than we can reach, let alone understand. Like climate change, there is no turning back. There is only triage. 

 

One of my biggest regrets with this Industry is that it has crippled the natural fabric market with cheap oil based fabric blends. Exacerbated by cheap labor ahd high production manufacturing demands, we are left with an insurmountable amount of non compostable waste. Unlike our natural fibers that improve with age and handling, these chemically produced blends degrade significantly with washing and wearing, so become unsuitable for recycling. 

 

Because natural and luxury fabrics cannot compete with Fast Fashion, the high standards of couture sewing cannot compete as well. Today's fashions are destined for landfill only. There is no place in the in the archives of tomorrow's fashion and history museums for these disposable garments. 

 

For those of us who are inspired by and value fashion, this is a dark reality and a grim picture. Your choices for what to do about this are limited and boil down to what each of us can do individually to encourage change. We can't stop the throw away culture, but we can curb our own over consumption. We can't stop the manufacturing machine that drives over production, but we can make a dent by not buying Fast Fashion.

 

Fast Fashion is a strong and well indoctrinated Industry, and provides an economic safety net, albeit an exploitive one, for many poor countries. so change will be slow and possible difficult to detect. Triage itself, by definition, needs to balance a multitude and sometimes contradictory objectives simultaneously. Boycotting this industry in the West will not change the damage that has already been done to our planet, but I do believe that over time, if we put the brakes on our own behaviors, change will have room to foster and grow, and new sources of luxury, whether it's in the fabrics of our garments or the quality of their creation, will begin to re-emerge.  

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