This month we are featuring a fashion series focused on five fast fashion facts and five questions with a sustainable, slow fashion brand.
Why we should care about fast fashion and sustainable fashion
Merriam Webster defines fast fashion as: “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”
In our consumer driven society, that doesn’t sound all bad since we love having things quickly and cheaply at our fingertips. But the impacts of fast fashion on people and the environment are huge. This month we will be sharing some facts about fast fashion to emphasize why we need to be paying attention to the industry.
We understand that sustainable fashion brands are not accessible to everyone, so please know there is no condemnation from us if you shop in fast fashion. We want to share information, highlight some of our favourite brands we love to follow, and provide alternatives with hopes to minimize the negative impacts of fast fashion.
Five Fashion Facts
So why should we be paying attention? Here are some facts you may not know.
- About 170 million children around the world are employed in the fast fashion workforce according to the International Labour Office
- A 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labor in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries (Further info: WRI.org)
- Conventionally grown cotton used in the production of fast fashion items generally includes the application of pesticides in the growing process. There is evidence that the use of such chemicals causes many negative health effects for the farming families and communities that live in proximity to where these chemicals are applied. (Source: Textile Exchange).
- Certain dyes in cheaply produced clothing can be absorbed by the skin and have been linked to incidence of cancer (Source: Remake.World)
- According to Business Insider, phthalates have been found in many items of fast fashion clothing. These chemicals have been linked to various issues including long-term reproductive issues. Phthalates in clothing can be particularly problematic for children who may put the clothing containing this chemical in their mouths.
Five Questions and Answers with a Sustainable Fashion Brand
We reached out to some of our favourite sustainable, slow fashion labels to find out more about what they do and why they do it. This sustainable fashion series is a passion project for us, motivated by our love of supporting small businesses, which means we were not compensated by these brands to feature them. We hope you love these brands as much as we do!
We fell in love with fairechild’s clean and unique aesthetic drawn from to references to historical outdoor wear. We loved them even more when we understood their commitment to ethical production and careful selection of sources and materials to create a product that is kind to the planet while being extremely functional.
As a mom, Krista understands the importance of getting a lot of use out of an item of children’s clothing. In this respect fairechild products deliver! They fit large to allow for layering and therefore can be used through multiple seasons. The pants and coats even have extra cuffing to allow for the items to grow with your child.
We love fairechild and have enjoyed learning about them and are excited for you to get to know them a bit better too! Check out their new product line that launched August 14th on their website!
Why did you choose to start a sustainable brand?
Tabitha, our founder and designer by trade, had an ever-growing awareness of the urgent change needed in the fashion industry. This, amplified by her entry into motherhood, was forefront of mind as she reflected on the effects of climate change on our childrens’ ability to live in a world with access to fresh water, bounties of food, and natural resources.
The social and environmental impacts of fast fashion coupled with climate change exposed a serious gap between consumer habits and responsible stewardship of the Earth. Tabitha wanted to connect children with their environment and give them an opportunity to fall in love with the natural world.
In what ways does your brand fall under the sustainable label?
Our brand is sustainable because we live and breathe slow fashion in everything we do. The material we use was chosen because it never has to end up in a landfill.
The fabric is made from recycled PET water bottles and PET is a pretty amazing material. Many other materials become weaker through the recycling process, but PET has the ability to be recycled over and over again without compromising quality.
The fabric we use is also Oeko-tex and Bluesign certified. This ensures that the fabric is safe next to skin and that no harmful chemicals were used to make it.
Finally, we design our pieces to be adjustable to grow with children so that they can be worn for up to three years, and to be durable, so that they can be handed down. Once our pieces have reached the end of their useful life, they can be returned to us for recycling. We believe in following the cradle-to-cradle design philosophy and being champions for the circular economy throughout every step of our process.
What are some obstacles you’ve faced in starting a sustainable brand?
Finding a fabric that was made from recycled material, and highly functional for every weather was a major challenge in the beginning stages of fairechild. Tabitha explored many options including materials that decompose such as waxed hemp and linen, but these options would never be 100% waterproof.
She also looked into various textiles made from recycled car tires and even pineapple leaves, all of which were extremely innovative but still did not meet the need for the fabric to be both waterproof and breathable. This issue was only solved when Tabitha was introduced to Sympatex’s rPET material.
The sustainability criteria we abide by also limits the suppliers we can use for all of our materials. If our elastic supplier, for example, had to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, we would not have the option to pivot to another supplier quickly because those that meet our sustainability criteria are hard to come by.
While there are many extra steps in securing business partners for a company committed to sustainability, it is well worth it to create a product we can be completely proud of.
In what ways do you find customers receptive towards the idea of sustainable, slow fashion? In what ways do you find customers hesitant?
Most customers are extremely receptive to the idea of sustainable, slow fashion, and it certainly a key selling feature for many customers that choose fairechild. Especially now that we are seeing the damaging effects fast fashion can have not only on the environment, but on human rights, customers are valuing sustainable products even more.
That said, we are operating in a luxury goods market and we also take that responsibility seriously. It is not enough that our clothes are sustainable, they must be able to keep children warm and dry in every weather and be adorably stylish. We have found that being able to create pieces that are sustainable, of high quality and fashionable has helped customers see that sustainability does not have to be a brand’s singular focus, or come at the cost of function and fashion.
What are your hopes for sustainable fashion?
Our hope is that sustainable fashion becomes the norm. We are at a crucial point in the preservation of our natural environment and if we do not act quickly and collectively our children will not be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the planet in the same way we have.
I hope that through fairechild or otherwise, the next generation will be inspired to be stewards of their environment. We hope that they will see waste as a resource in the same way Tabitha has and that today’s children will feel empowered to explore creative solutions to sustainable issues like fast fashion as they grow.