Over the past fortnight, Mat and I have started the buying process for the Spring-Summer 2021 (SS21) collections – always good fun in the fashion world. This stock is due to land in store around February-March 2021. This season, due to obvious reasons, it has been quite different to shopping for previous seasons. Normally we go off for a little jolly to London and visit various showrooms, tradeshows and brands to see what is in-store for the following year. However, this time we (like many) are conducting meetings through Zoom and looking at collections through a computer screen.
Throughout this process, it made me realise that to most people it may seem a bit bizarre that the stock we order in July will arrive more than six months later – similarly the stock due to arrive over the course of the next six weeks was ordered back in January. In turn, I thought it might be useful to explain a bit more about Fishboy PZ, in particular why we choose the brands we do.
Throughout lockdown one significant fashion story hit the UK headlines, relating to the pay and working conditions of one brand’s factory in Leicester. This brought into the public domain the stark contrasts between fast fashion and slow, or “forward-order”, fashion and the vital importance in slowing down.
In recent years, there has been a global shift in how we think about our planet, the environment, and humankind’s impact. Plant-based diets are on the rise, people understand the need to recycle more, and the battle against single-use plastics has stepped up a gear. In fact, Penzance became the first plastic-free town in the UK and we, here at Fishboy PZ, are proud to say we have achieved Plastic-Free status too (Note: we are still a way away from being completely plastic-free, but we have reduced our plastic use significantly and continue to do so).
And yet these fantastic steps in the right direction have barely reached the fashion world, with popularity of fast-fashion stores continuing to rise, and the term “slow fashion” hardly registering on people’s radars.
So, what is slow fashion?
“A deliberate choice from consumers to slow down their consumption, and buy less, while investing in high quality pieces that last longer. It is the ethos of buying fewer [but] better things, embracing individual style rather than chasing trends.” Remake
“Slow fashion is the movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste.” Study NY
Here at Fishboy PZ, all brands that we stock are slow fashion brands. That’s to say, we order in advance two main collections a year: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. This process involves us looking at line-sheets and prototype samples of what the brands hope to produce for the following season, and then based on the number of orders, that item will either be produced or it won’t.
Simple as that.
Producing clothing in this way means there is very little surplus stock – which is why sometimes, as much as we would love to, it isn’t always possible to get hold of another size for you. We also choose brands that take care with the materials that they use and the working conditions in the factories they use, in order to be as sustainable as possible, providing garments that last decades.
Understandably, smaller factory runs are more expensive. Sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials are more expensive. Better working conditions are more expensive. It is physically impossible to create a garment that will last years cheaply. This cost is reflected in the price at which we – and therefore you, the consumer – buy it. Yet the irony is, buying “slow” is cheaper in the long run. Items last much longer and need replacing much less frequently.
Yes, slow fashion does come at a cost and we all need to stop seeing that as a bad thing.
Peregrine Clothing released their Zero Waste collection for SS20, creating sustainable, green garments that are simply stunning. Check out the collection here.
What is fast fashion?
“An approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Merriam Webster
“Clothes that are made and sold cheaply, so that people can buy new clothes often.” Cambridge Dictionary
In other words, it is not uncommon for fast-fashion retailers to bring in new styles and collections multiple times a month, sometimes even multiple times a week, just to stay up-to-date with top trends. At unbelievably cheap prices, it isn’t hard to see why this is attractive to consumers, and I think it’s fair to say we have all succumbed to these garments in our lifetimes. I certainly can’t get on my high horse and preach about this, without acknowledging that I bought almost solely fast fashion throughout my student life with very little thought to what impact my choices were having on a larger scale.
Sadly, the exponential overproduction of poor quality, cheap clothing has led to the fashion industry becoming one of the biggest polluters in the world.
What is the true price of that £5 garment?
There are two main factors to take into account: environmental factors and human factors.
Environmentally, fast fashion’s impact on our planet is enormous. With a constant pressure to increase production rates and reduce costs, these brands end up cutting corners. The cheaper fabric dyes are often toxic, leading to great levels of water pollution. Add to this the production of man-made materials – such as polyester, which is derived from fossil fuels – and you can start to see how mass production can have a huge negative effect on the planet.
In addition, is the human cost of fast fashion. In an attempt to reduce labour costs, brands often outsource to overseas factories where the minimum wage is lower, if existent at all. Working conditions in these factories are often crowded, unsanitary and unsafe.
And then at the end of it all, what happens if these brands don’t sell all their garments? They end up in landfill or burned. One popular high-street store burns on average 12 tonnes of unsold items per year.
Thinking of it another way, how great are vintage shops? Full of incredible quality, slow fashion garments that are decades old. The price of the past 10-20 years of fast fashion will be the loss of these stores on our high streets.
As mentioned, Mat and I buy twice a year in January and July. We are sent the lookbooks from all our brands so if you can bear to wait 6 months then do ask to see the upcoming collections for your favourite brands. We will always be more than happy to order something in especially for you.
Unsure if a brand is fast or slow fashion? Key identifiers of a fast fashion brand are:
- “Thousands of styles, which touch on all the latest trends.
- Extremely short turnaround time between when a trend or garment is seen on the catwalk, or in celebrity media, and when it hits the shelves.
- Offshore manufacturing where labour is the cheapest, with the use of workers on low wages without adequate rights or safety.
- Cheap, low quality materials, where clothes degrade after just a few wears and get thrown away.” Good On You
Want to learn more about this? Check out the following links: