How did fast fashion become normal?

I was thinking about how my Nanny had a very considered and purposeful wardrobe. There was no item unnecessary. Growing up I thought that meant you weren’t as interested in fashion and style, now I think the opposite. I spent the best part of 10 years in a shopping frenzy, I wanted in on all the trends. I studied fashion and I wanted new clothing faster, quicker and cheaper. At the time, I had a disposable attitude to fashion. That’s what has led me to launch STIALL. My relationship with clothing has changed. My Nanny, she dressed impeccably and took great care of each clothing item. Quality outweighed quantity. It’s made me wonder, when did our relationship with clothing change so drastically?

Let’s bring it right back..

Clothing was once considered for it’s durability and function, we’re talking social and thermal purpose. Before the 1800’s people relied on their sheep to get their yarn and spin their weave to get their cloth. Localized dressmaking businesses were employed for the middle class while lower class families made their own clothing. The fabric restrictions of the 20th century due to the war meant more standardized production and factories became more common. Times changed drastically with the arrival of the 60’s. Cheaply made clothes were readily embraced and the demand for new clothes often, reached dizzying heights.

What did this mean?

Local mills and producers couldn’t keep up with the demand and soon labor was outsourced to the developing world. Factories and workers across Europe and America charged a substantial amount more for labor, and so cheaper clothes were imported.

Some perspective..

In the 1900’s, spending 15% of the households income on clothing was standard. Nowadays, it’s only 2.8%, but we have far more clothing. It has been reported that in 1997 the average woman bought 19 pieces of clothing and in 2007 that rose to 34 pieces a year. Kantar World Panel discovered that each individual bought an average of 60 items of clothing in 2015, that’s roughly 28kg.

So how did fast fashion come about?

  In the mid 20th century small versions of Zara, H&M and Topshop began to develop around Europe and America. Through the years they saw rapid and advanced growth. Mass production and disposable fashion became relevant. Fashion had become easily accessible, low cost, disposable and was available to the mass market. Furthermore, you could buy the same product in stores across the world. According to research by Lucy Siegle, Between the years of 2001 and 2005, the amount of womenswear fashion purchased rose by 21%, while the cost required to accumulate these items fell by 14%. Annual production rates have doubled since 2000 and even exceeded 100 billion in 2014, the first time in history.

What does this mean?

 

Well, we’re consuming at an all time high – more clothing that’s a hella lot cheaper than in times past.

More stuff for less money, what’s the problem?

It’s causing a whole lot of social and environmental problems. The rate at which we consume puts pressure on many people through the supply chain and is causing irreparable damage to the environment.   Here at STIALL we want to explore what these problems are, stay tuned for some more facts and figures and insights into why our shopping habits are exhausting the environment and causing social chaos.  

Comments (2)

  1. Karen
    1 year ago

    Really interesting article & so true. Think we’re guilty of having a disaposable attitude to a lot of things these days.

    • STIALL
      1 year ago

      Thanks Karen! For sure, we think it’s time things change.

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