It must have been a few years ago when I first saw the now infamous "wear once" tag as posted on Instagram. I first saw as a re-post on @ethicalmadeeasy. Like many, I think I initially thought it wasn't real - an edited joke making fun at fast fashion. Only after reading the post fully did I actually realise it was a project done by @project_stopshop to shed light on the almost shocking #wearitonce movement perpetrated by the fast fashion movements. Shocking but so sadly true!
Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on #payup about the current situation in the fashion industry of, mostly, large western fast fashion companies canceling orders being made in Asia. It is something we have direct first-hand experience in and felt compelled, in the current climate, to write on. It led to a lot of amazing feedback and support from both our retailers we work with committing to support and work with us and also followers and friends who might not have understood exactly how the industry works or were aware of the level of cancellations and knock on effects that were taking place.
And so the next question or follow up to that article is what happens next? And to be completely honest with you, I have no idea. I am only a microbrand in the scale of fashion, producing small scale literally made to order units. In many ways, I am the anti-fast fashion. I cannot produce 4 different drops or lines each month. I cannot make my items in 8 different sizes, though I really wish I could as I frequently get requests for my items in different sizes.
I design my line nearly 9 months in advance. I know each and every single detail of every piece I sell. I know which button was used. The type of zip. The color of the thread used. I know the names of every single person who is working for me making these items. I know when they have a death in their family, or when someone is getting married. We looked at our production this past season, and the average production time for 1 dress, is about 1 day. That is 1 day of someone sitting down and spending the entire day working on it, and nothing else. This also doesn't take into account any of the time that would go into the design, creation, and work on the fabric, the finishing, packing, shipping, and taxes, etc all part of getting it from in my case India, to you.
But I also love a bargain. I love a sale. I make the occasional trip to KMart or Target, and I do own something from Zara and H&M. But I also know that because I spend 4-6 months a year in India, the prices they offer on goods are not fair, or sustainable, or reasonable. Jeans cannot cost $10. But I also know that if I have a reasonably sized wardrobe, and I have a few pieces from these types of companies, that is OK. So long as I buy conservatively, and consciously from other labels, within my budget and in support of lines that I trust and respect - that I am doing my part.
So now, more than ever, I am asking for all of us to do our part. To stay home when and how we have been asked, to check in our elderly neighbours, to respect the environment in whatever ways we can, and to shop sustainably and support small and independent businesses, when we can.