From crocodiles to cowherd hats – and even the return of low-rise jeans – the latest trends are sure to fly off the catwalks into the fashionistas ’baskets at Australia’s second fashion week, which ended last Friday.
Now researchers from the University of South Australia are urging consumers to pause before making careless purchases, and to consider the devastating impact of fast fashion on the environment.
A recent UniSA study examined Australians ’knowledge of fast and slow fashion, finding that broad consumers not only do not understand these issues, but are also reluctant or unable to change ways of buying.
Because Australia is a giant in textile consumption, UniSA researchers argue that the government and the fashion industry have a duty to better inform consumers and provide alternatives.
“Fast fashion is a demand-driven garment when shoppers choose the latest fashion styles at the peak of their popularity, only to throw them away after a few days,” says the lead researcher. UniDA PhD candidate Erin Skinner.
“But keeping up with the latest trends comes at a price. Every year Australians consume more more than 27 kg of textiles, throwing 23 kg in the landfill. That’s an unusual 6,000 kg (6 tons) every 10 minutes – or equivalent the weight of an African elephant».
“But it’s not just a landfill,” Ms. Skinner said. “Worldwide, the fashion industry produces about 20 percent of the world’s wastewater. This translates to 2700 liters of water make one cotton t-shirt – enough water for one person to drink for almost two and a half years.
“And when it comes to CO2 emissions, the fashion industry produces more emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined».
Ms. Skinner noted that the government and the fashion industry can better educate the average consumer.
«[They could highlight] value for money, which comes with buying fewer durable garments, expanding the clothing rental sector, using influential people online for training, or searching for more affordable and second-hand items online. ”
The aim of the study was to find out “what the average Australian knows or thinks about sustainable fashion” as a first step towards developing appropriate policy changes that support slow fashion.
After Australian Fashion Week, remember these three simple tips for the environment:
- Get out of the “trend mill”. Take the time to consider your personal style to avoid the temptation of every influential micro-trend.
- Buy your wardrobe. The most durable clothing is what you already have.
- Remember that your favorite clothes remain last. No matter where they came from, treat your clothes with grace so that they last as long as possible.