THE BLOG

Fast Fashion Is About as Tasteful as 'Big Brother'

04/09/2015 17:45 BST | Updated 04/09/2016 10:59 BST

This blog is part of a month-long focus around sustainable fashion across HuffPost UK Style and Lifestyle. Here we aim to champion some of the emerging names in fashion and shine a light on the truth about the impact our appetite for fast fashion has around the world.

The idea that wearing the same item of clothing or even the same outfit a lot is some sort of crime makes about as much sense as the fact that Big Brother is still on television.

It is, in fact, the only way to take a stand against the culture of throwaway fashion that is becoming so prevalent.

I'm all to aware that critics of sustainable fashion argue that it is not sustainable business. My menswear brand, Tom Cridland, could easily one day go bust without short lived fashion trends, as the sustainable fashion garments we have developed, such as The 30 Year T-Shirt and The Timeless Chino carry three decade and lifetime Guarantees respectively. The global throwaway attitude to style has also given us such delights as fanny packs, mullets and flares, and no-one can deny the pleasure derived from a little retail therapy - even if you might only wear what you buy once.

At the point, however, where even H&M is starting to slowly take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by its fast fashion empire and the likes of Elton John even go to the effort to recycle their vast wardrobes on an almost annual basis, I would like to ask why the principal of planned obsolescence is still being applied to manufacturing of wardrobe staples like plain coloured t-shirts, sweatshirts and chinos?

As designers, we should keep our customers coming back by innovating and creating something new. I will view this as a labour of love, but it is very sad that many of the world's biggest fast fashion retailers would rather churn out mass produced goods that are systemically built to fall apart.

It may sound preachy but, as consumers, I believe it is our responsibility to know where our clothes are made. The millions who slave away in places like China, Bangladesh and India, churning out goods for big fashion corporations, are often so badly underpaid that they are unable to afford basic living expenses.

It is not just unethical working conditions that are the problem with the modern fast fashion trend. Even if you are indifferent to what goes on thousands of miles away from you, it is also you, the consumer, who suffers as a result. As recently as 2012, Greenpeace released their report titled "Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up", which revealed many facilities making cheap clothing for the major high street fashion players were using hazardous chemicals.

And then there's the impact on the environment. Continuing to manufacture clothes that are worn only a few times is a huge waste of natural resources. As consumers, if we choose to throw away our clothes after one season that has a big impact on our carbon and water footprints.

I was recently invited onto BBC Radio 4's Today program to discuss sustainable fashion. What got me there? Princess Anne's choice of outfit to Royal Ascot. Whilst it was lovely to have such a high profile platform from which to support eco fashion, I do feel these issues should be taken a lot more seriously - they are often ignored by most.

When an item of clothing suits you well, a shirt in a color that flatters you or impeccably cut trousers that fit you perfectly, there is no harm in re-wearing it. Some of the world's biggest fashion icons are synonymous with particular items of clothing that they wore again and again.

In other words, saying no to fast fashion won't only benefit the world and our natural resources; it will benefit your sense of style, too.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle is running a special series around Sustainable Fashion for the month of September. Livia Firth is creative director of Eco-Age and founder of The Green Carpet Challenge, and will be guest editing on 18 September. If you'd like to blog or get involved, please email us.