Is technology the solution to sustainable fashion and the problems of fast fashion? We delve deeper.
Whether you’re a self-acclaimed fashionista or a ‘whatever’s in the closet’ kinda person, fashion is and has always been an important aspect of our lives and our society. The type of fashion we adopt shows who we are and who we want to be every day of our lives. Because of that, fashion is pushed to constantly grow through the creation of new designs and trends for the masses.
With that demand, comes fast fashion which is essentially what it sounds like — designing, manufacturing, and marketing the newest trends at an alarming speed to meet consumers’ high demands. But fashion wasn’t originally for everyone.
In the 1800s, with the lack of technology to make clothes, only the rich would have a few sets of fancy clothes. Even in the 1900s, when factories and sewing innovations were introduced, people opted for smaller-scaled shops. It wasn’t until the 1960s when fast fashion started becoming popular and people started to embrace cheaper clothes and styles. The result?
Fashion brands had to quickly adjust to this new market shift evident still in today’s society especially through brands like H&M, Uniqlo, and Padini.
Though fast fashion’s price tag is relatively cheaper than its highbrow sibling, we’re paying an unseen cost through the product’s quality, cheap labour, and environmental repercussions. Because of the fast-changing trends and throwaway culture, these clothes aren’t made to last and with its affordable pricing, you’re more likely to replace them with new ones anyway. This results in items ending up in landfills or getting incinerated which releases harmful byproducts into the environment.
~ Andrew Tan, Founder of Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week & Programme Co-Director of Taylor’s Bachelor of Fashion Design Technology.
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of every sector in our society. Fashion isn’t excluded from this mix. And although we’re doing our best to cancel fast fashion, is it really that easy to change a culture that impacts the majority of societies worldwide?
Unfortunately, it may be some time until fast fashion dies but there is a solution for sustainable fashion to slowly become a part of our everyday lives. Here’s a snapshot of how technology’s relationship with fashion plays a big role in sustainability.
Through technology comes an array of different hybrid products that cater to the needs of different people. For example, we’re no longer wearing 3 to 4 layers of clothing when travelling to a cold country. Rather, with HEATTECH technology, you’re able to wear a piece of clothing that generates and retains the same warmth yet is comfortable, light, stretchy, and stylish.
We’re now able to use our resources wisely — maximising and stretching their potential to suit our needs. By giving clothing a purpose aside from being trendy, the issue of the throwaway culture in fast fashion could be addressed.
While fashion is a rapidly changing industry, the way it’s produced isn’t exactly up to speed. For a long time, pattern making, the blueprint for creating a new piece of clothing, was done manually which resulted in wastage not only of materials but also time.
By introducing new technologies like pattern digitisers, we're able to enable smart designing and manufacturing of clothes, resulting in an accurate design as well as a better use of time and resources. This can help mitigate problems that are caused by fabric wastage due to errors which indirectly (or directly) results in environmental issues, like water pollution caused by the dyeing process.
Did You Know?
Malaysia’s first coworking fashion studio, Taylor’s Mayamode, provides a variety of industry-grade equipment and machinery, aside from other facilities, that allows students, fashion designers, and fashion entrepreneurs to explore their talents in designing and manufacturing sustainable fashion through a productive workspace. Find out how you can book a space here.
Technology doesn’t stop at the designer or manufacturer in the fashion industry. It goes right up to the consumers who are evidently putting ready-to-wear items and fast fashion on the back burner and allowing sustainable fashion to take centre stage (or runway).
Now that we’re no longer constrained by the idea of having brick-and-mortar stores be the main place we shop, thank you COVID-19 pandemic for accelerating this, it’s time to fully maximise how technology can aid in redefining the way we experience fashion.
E-commerce is now free to chart the way goods are displayed to customers which could impact the driving force of fast fashion — mass production.
As fashion continuously grows, so will the demand for a generation that can stitch technology with fashion, leading it to the right sustainable path. While the influence of technology on fashion may only see an impact on the environment in the far future, we can still do our part now by making smart purchases and demand for changes, no matter how big or small, towards sustainability.
As Carry Somers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, said, “Consumer demand can revolutionise the way fashion works as an industry. If everyone started to question the way we consume, we’d see a radically different fashion paradigm.”
How are you gearing up towards #SustainableFashion?
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