How Can We Afford Ethical Fashion? (Via Magnifeco Radio)

Elizabeth was recently a guest on Magnifeco Radio, a podcast series of frank and intimate conversations with sustainable fashion leaders hosted by Kate Black, author and founder of Elizabeth and Kate talked about how fast fashion rewrote the rules of consumption. But is the ethical alternative affordable? And who really pays the price for fast fashion? Highlights from our talk are below. Listen to the full episode below, or here. Download is available here.

Highlights From Our Talk

*The History of Fast Fashion
“1996 is the turning point, when all this stuff started to happen, whether you’re talking about globalization or the rise of Chinese manufacturing. We started to change from this seasonal and more rational model of selling clothes, making clothes that were more durable, putting some craftsmanship into it, because the ideas was that the person was going to buy it to wear not buy it to throw it away or consume a trend and then move on.”

*The Allure of Fast Fashion
“What’s driving the speed of fashion is the low price of clothing… it’s very cheap to walk into a store and for the cost of a fast food meal you can buy an outfit. And I totally understand that allure.”
“Fast fashion and cheap fashion has completely rewritten the rules of how we think about and consume clothes.”

*How Can We Afford Ethical Fashion?
“When I think about what we lost economically because of fast fashion. We lost 2 million textile and garment jobs in the U.S. to get what? To get cheap fashion. I don’t think that is a good tradeoff. And you’re talking about working class people who took that hit. Working class and middle class people got the short end of the stick.”

“There’s nothing wrong with buying clothes you can afford. But what’s really crazy about the way that Americans shop is that they use that low price to accumulate more clothes than they could ever possibly wear or make good use of.”

*Has Fast Fashion Made the U.S. Poorer?
“Through the process of globalization over the last twenty years, the same exact system that’s given us fast fashion is also why we have so much poverty in the United States and so much inequality in the United States.”

“The decline of department stores in the United States, that has to do with increasing inequality. There’s not that middle anymore. There’s not that group of Americans anymore who year after year feels like they’re getting ahead and thinks to themselves, “I’m going to buy something a little bit nicer; I’m going to go treat myself because I can trust that next year my paycheck is going to be bigger than last year.”

*How Ethical Shopping Rewires the Way You Shop
“When you’re walking through a mall or a store, you’re thinking about clothes a lot differently. Your eyes are open, and I think that makes shopping a lot more interesting and satisfying. Because there’s a connection there and an awareness there and that always feels better than going through life in the dark or doing something without any thought or intention.”

“It’s not our fault. We did not write the trade deals that created this system. We do not run these companies that pollute in other countries.”

*Don’t Feel Guilty, Get Excited!
“I just don’t want people coming into this [movement] feeling bad because it’s clothing. It’s something that is supposed to make you feel so wonderful and confident and excited.”

Fashion’s Global Impact Is At a Critical Point
“Our annual consumption of clothing is not going up… but now the issue that consumers in Asia and India are becoming middle class, so the impacts of the fashion industry are escalating exponentially.”

“This isn’t just about us anymore, this isn’t just about Americans or Canadians. It’s about all of us. Everybody around the world has to work together to figure out how to make the fashion industry sustainable and we have to do it fast.”