Stop Buying Crap Apparently Works

We're fans of Fast Company here at Textile Arts LA. Much of their reporting covers innovation in its broadest definition: changing behavior, new technology, forward-thinking processes, and the people who are driving change. Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer for the magazine. She reported last week on some major events in the fast fashion industry.

The motivating event for her article was the "death" of Ivanka Trump's brand. (While I was not a fan I am hesitant to exult. Seems like we're better off focusing on the good. That's another conversation / article though.) Segran's ultimate analysis of the Trump brand's fortunes and H&M, to name just two, is that "Our individual purchasing choices do matter: We have the power to kill off brands and force the industry to do better."

It can be hard to believe our buying decisions matter when we consider the sheer enormity of the fashion industry. Fashion is a $2.4 trillion global sector that hires 70 million people worldwide and is the second biggest polluter after the oil industry. And yes, we’re drowning in clothes: Setting foot in an H&M or Old Navy means wading through racks of cheaply made stuff that will be replaced with new looks next week. How could a split-second decision to buy a T-shirt from one brand over another do anything to move the needle?

This paragraph jumped out at me – and I believe the growing awareness among consumers of what is actually going on, the peek behind the curtain, so to speak, is the tipping point for a radical change in our buying and consuming behavior:

Fast fashion may be on its last legs. Take it from H&M, which was forced to admit in its March financial report that it had $4.3 billion of unsold inventory left hanging on its racks, along with a massive drop in sales. In fact, the Swedish company has started incinerating clothes in power plants to generate energy. When you consider all of the raw materials, chemical pollution, human labor, and transportation costs required to make just a single shirt, the scale of the waste is astounding. But the fact that we’re not buying the goods that H&M is churning out also sends a powerful message to the company: We’ve lost our appetite for fast fashion, the category of clothes that H&M helped pioneer.

You can read the entire article

If you're interested in how our community, as artists and designers and makers and thinking consumers, can influence our design decisions, buying decisions, and the way we live, check out our Textile Summit: Mindful Materials.