Published August 24, 2022
Mike Redwood looks at the impact of fast fashion on society, the environment and the young designers trying to support the leather industry.
A recent article from Wired describes the fast fashion industry as “fast, cheap and out of control.” In April, China-based fast fashion company Shin was valued at US$100 billion after its latest funding round.
Big companies in the sector are constantly being scrutinized for their huge contribution to our society in terms of the use of the planet’s resources, the production and transportation of carbon dioxide, waste and other environmental damage such as modern day slave labor and supply chains.
Specifically, Shein was founded in Nanjing in 2008 to produce affordable fashion, but was re-invented after it split in 2012. Few people had heard of the company until the last three years when it exploded onto the scene, and it came to my attention after a young contact in Scotland discovered her designs had been stolen.
A student in Dundee laser-cuts jewelery and sells it online, borrowing college equipment to start the process. When the epidemic started, she prepared her income with a small workshop at home to keep the business going through the lockdown. In the year In late 2020, Sheen discovered that she was recording her designs.
Now Shin has admitted that his policy of using foreign designs has led to a high number of design thefts from Instagram and ET postings. In places like the US, where Shin has offices, a few designers have filed lawsuits and received some monetary compensation, but very few young designers can afford this route and can only complain on social media.
My cousin wrote: “KITSCHY is a one-woman brand. I’m the only one. And this is the same for many creators. I design, I craft, I pack orders, I post orders, I organize admin, I photograph my pieces, I maintain the website, I run socials. I have a lot of heart, soul and time to put into making this something truly special. This is an experience that brands like Shein cannot provide. This is every creator’s worst nightmare.
The kitsch angel earrings have been relegated to the last detail, but with low-grade workmanship and hypoallergenic metals, all at a huge price cut, Shein is very understated about size and price, so consumers don’t expect much.
Copying designs and circumventing patent and IP laws is a well-known way to cut costs and simplify the market, while ignoring environmental and labor laws. According to Wired, a survey of shin suppliers in China found that 85% had experienced major problems, with many at the “zero tolerance” level. There are other smart things Shein is doing to cut costs through automated computing systems and global small package operations, such as staying below tax levels and container inspection.
Wired author Vauhini Vara bought 14 women’s dresses for $80.16; Including a skirt for US$2.50 and a pullover for US$4.50. At the start of fast fashion 20 years ago, it was a high-cost takeout for a night out, but Shane dropped it “below a deli sandwich.”
Fossil fuels are the key to fast fashion.
What is often lost is fossils, the key to all of this fast fashion. Cheap synthetic fibers produced from fossil fuels and heralded as the “most environmentally friendly materials” by major indexes for the past 15 years have made it possible to create ultra-cheap clothes that struggle to stand up to more than one or two washes before being thrown away. They are filling our trash cans and closets in an unprecedented manner in the history of our planet.
In tough times when environmental protection is under attack, companies like Shin argue that it is important for consumers to have access to affordable products. The concepts of a garment or a lifetime value are never considered, or the damage it is doing to the lives of others who work in intolerable conditions elsewhere in order to achieve falsely low prices.
The figures that argue that man-made materials are better than natural materials in the environment are now very wrong, but they were always deliberately limited by the context. They ignore the fact that fiber is a fossil source, less durable and has a shorter service life, and when we know about the damage caused by microplastics in the oceans, it is said that 35% of it is from man-made products. clothing.
Companies like Sheen remind us what a mountain we have to climb, and after three decades of poverty and cheap clothing built on generally misguided perceptions of quality and value, we still have a long way to go to change our ways.
We live in a moment where a company like Shin can give a young influencer an iPhone and a triple free outfit and pay for one Tik Tok video on Romwe, a hardworking and dedicated young designer in Dundee, for more than a week’s income. She makes her own product. That’s exactly the kind of person we strive to encourage.
Follow Dr. Mike Redwood on Twitter: @michaelredwood
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