Working conditions, labour rights, waste levels and clothing quality are just a few of the hurdles to overcome when talking about working towards a more sustainable fashion industry. As we become more exposed to its methods of operating, we can be left in no doubt of the terrible reality that is Fast Fashion and its damaging consequences.
There has been a considerable amount written about the hazards of this unrelenting and abusive giant, but it occurred to me recently that we rarely talk about the other causality this global phenomenon has caused. While arguably far less important than the environmental and human implications, Fast Fashion seems to have abolished the individual.
To my teenage self, the fashion industry represented originality, diversity and passion. A world I could only dream of. A degree, several jobs later and working in the thick of it, I found myself wondering what exactly had caught my imagination so much?
When I think of fashion, I don't think of a desk job (doesn't being labelled as 'arty' early on in your life excuse you from this sedentary fate?). Still, I remained hopeful and chose to interpret my workspace as a blank slate, ready for the input of fresh ideas and enthusiasm. On reflection, perhaps the great expanse of unremarkable grey plastic that greeted me every morning was a sign of things to come.
I seemed to while away my time as a 'designer', a title more than slightly misleading, sifting though images, hoping to come across a design that could be "recreated" into something new. What happened to the world of innovation and change I thought I was going to be a part of? Turns out that went out of style. I soon realised that the way we design fashion is mimicked in the way we produce and consume it: fast and without soul.
Why is it that in this increasingly standardised world, in which we are all desperate to communicate our individuality through our lifestyle choices, when it comes to what we wear, conforming is the name of the game?
With no desire to conform to the traditional path of a fashion graduate any longer, I decided to get out before I became a captive in its ruthless cycle. And in the short time I've spent running my own small brand, I have come across so many others seeking to pursue something more meaningful and worthwhile.
As awareness of the Sustainable Fashion movement becomes more prominent and small independent brands seek to break into the market, a step that we can all take, regardless of budget or style, is to wean ourselves off the globalised high street and dare to be different by stepping away from the crowd.
This post was originally featured on the study 34 blog