Digesting the plastic fashion industry

Fashion is about lifestyle, is a way we show to the world our personality while keeping up-to-date. Since ever fashion shows, models, magazines have been the iconic result of cultures found on the streets which managed to transform in exclusive pieces of conceptual art. Simply meaning: fashion reflects our society.

We can’t fail to recognize that fashion set itself as an expression of designers and often overshadows the impact of its works in the name of creativeness. Fashion is above the law. An elite of trendsetters that missed the connection with their muse, the society which kept on loving the trends and their outlooks while remaining in the dark about the process behind it. Even when the fancy facade clearly covers up some dirty secret.

The veganism rise and also our plastic diet.

An example of this misconnection is made clear by the increased green life propaganda that silences the plastic diet we all unawarely follow.

Across the world, people are spending more money on vegan products, and plant-based diets are trending online. Social media have a big play in the food consciousness bias bringing veganism and vegetarianism to the forefront of customer’s mind and making them a choice for everyone.

Surveys record the range of reasons lying behind such a rise and not so surprisingly we discover that 49% of those interested in cutting down on their meat are doing it for health reasons. Weight management, environmental and animal welfare concerns are also big motivators but not the primary reasons.

But how health-beneficial can it be moving to a life with low or no meat consumption when we are constantly feeding ourselves with plastic by just choosing to eat?
Human being ingests up to 2000 tiny pieces per week of plastic, which roughly amount to about 5 grams, the equivalent in weight of a credit card. More than 250 grams in a year on average.

To stress this shocking news are the ‘No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People’ studies conducted by the Newcastle University of Sydney and commissioned by WWF which combines data from over 50 previous searches.
Highest plastic levels are recorded in foods such as seafood, beer and salt. However, water remains the main vector for microplastics ingestion. Indeed, plastic particles are present in all worldwide waters: starting from that of the surfaces up to the aquifers.
While is not yet to be found the negative effect of plastic in the human body, is obvious recognising that we are facing a global problem that needs to be addressed from its roots.

But how is the fashion industry responsible and how can it revise the system?

The fashion industry toxic threads

The fashion industry holds a second place as world polluter behind just the oil & gas industry. According to The Economist, both high street and haute couture make up a 1.3 trillion dollar industry that comes with a hefty environmental price tag.

Cotton production has been blamed for the polluting waters and contaminating the environment with pesticides. Chemical waste from clothes manufacturing has devastated rivers in Asia. Some estimates the glamourous industry is on course to create a quarter of projected global carbon emissions by 2020.

Richard Thompson, Marine biologist is the first who brought to light the bloomy plague of the new era: Microplastics. And actually coined the term.

MICROPLASTIC

/ˈmʌɪkrəʊplastɪk/

Small pieces of plastic, less than 5 mm (0.2 inches) in length, that occur in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

According to the data recovered most of the plastics found in our waters as well as our environment is of fibres origins.

Plastic fabrics such as Polyester, Acrylic, Nylon, when getting in contact with water degrade and tend to break up in our washing machines. Have you ever notice that some of your clothes get stiff after laundry day? That is the result of plastic fibres shading away and getting lost in the ocean. A domestic washing machine can release up to 700.000 plastic fibres at each wash. Despite the filtering system trying to get hold of most of these fibres, a huge part finds their escape to the environment.

Adding up the statistics showing the consumption of polyester in the last decade, they record growth from 8.3 million tonnes annual to 21.3 million. Guess we all remember our science lesson on the plastic life cycle and perhaps it stood out how it takes something like a thousand-year for it to melt. Well, updated information now gives us a more accurate estimate. Plastic never degrades! It just split into smaller pieces.

What makes us all fashion lovers, professionals and icons responsible for this disaster is the mentality. The whole industry has always lived on a linear economy idea, where you take, make and dispose. A topic such as shading of fibres and designs recyclability are never in designers briefs.

In this climate is very important to take action in order to have a mentality shift. This is why initiatives such as Green Carpet Fashion Awards are commendable. They encourage the commitment of luxury fashion houses to sustainability, as they work to embrace rapid change while preserving the heritage and authenticity of small-scale producers.

We can name numerous examples of brands making the difference in the fashion industry after all creativity is key to fashion. We should just direct it to a more sustainable idea.

Javier Goyenche ECOALF founder came up with a shoe line made of used plastic bottles and algae. The thought behind it was simple. Shoes are those items which rarely end up to the washing cycle. Further to this, he projected a new plastic material made of recycled plastic that doesn’t shed as ordinary synthetic.

Currently, processing these materials is expensive but can be cheaper if rather than being an alternative solution it becomes the ordinary one.

Finisterre founded by Tom Key is among the 2.700 B-corporation approved companies. Members are assessed on their environmental performance and they have a boundary commitment to put sustainability before profit.

Finisterre addresses their battle by designing out harmful fibres, fabrics and process. The company uses only organic cotton, it has developed a recycle polyester insulation for jackets and set its own recycling program. The design team also got back to the oldest material known to man. Wool.

Wool is a natural fibre, degradable and fully traceable.

Being rapid has core importance as there is another threat to sustainable fashion. The global addiction to updates.

Fast fashion. Throwaway fashion.

Fashion seasons, editorials, retail collabs, pre-collection. Brands since the get-go launch their most important products every six months. In this day and age, due to the need to deliver as fast as possible new content to the audience, fashion brands have became “fast”, unveiling new product lines about once every two months, giving them exposure by means of influencers that need in their turn to shop consistently in order to update their opinion on the industry.

Fast fashion gives consumers the opportunity to buy more, wearing items less often and dispose of them at a high rate. Facing the fact, most of these fashion articles don’t even get to the consumers way before being replaced.

Just the United Kingdom waste 300 000 tonnes of clothes each year and just 25% of it gets to recycling and processing implants.

Savanna Rags Head of Logistic Mohammed Patel highlights how the quality of the items has gone down making it hard to process and obtain a good second-hand article.

Expanding middle classes and emerging markets are hungry for more and cheaper fashion, and the booming influencers and bloggers fever feeding the vicious circle take, dispose of, pollute.

Stay updated for latest posts!

The unsustainable model portrayed by the fashion industry where the sense of “buy it now or is not going to be available” clearly needs to stop. Brands and consumers need to change their behaviour and industry pioneers are proving that there are opportunities to contain the environmental impact.

Perhaps, choosing to rent an outfit over buying one if you work as a fashion blogger and need a constant change of wardrobe. Shop The Runway gives the opportunity worldwide to buy less, experiment more and deal with eco-sustainable laundry expenses. Designers should include in their creative processes solutions that make their designs easy to disassemble at the end of their cycles. When it comes to evergreen clothing pieces or accessories such as socks be rather choosing compostable materials. As consumers we should stand on the wise choice, avoiding synthetic clothing is the initial step; adding a fibres-collecting device to the washing machine while reducing the frequency of use is one of the many other. For the inventive spirit with a sense of creativity, dying their clothes naturally can be a strong fashion statement. The result will be unique at every wear, as natural dye tends to fade quickly but seen on an artistic perspective the item evolves with you showing your individuality, style and identity.

The future is plastic. Let’s recycle it, rearrange it and make it beautiful again. This will prevent us from microplastic congestion and will save our planet earth from being the biggest fashion victim.

Credits

Copywriter: Chioma Mordilyn Worlu @mordilynworlu
Creative director: Natalya Zhurakovskaya @natalyzhurakovskaya
Photographer: Vladimir Zotov @vladimirzotov
Make up/hair stylist: Ekaterina Obukhova @e_obukhova_
Make up/hair stylist: Masha Chekhova @masha_chexova
Make up/hair stylist: Nadya Tsarapkina @nadyatsarapki
Wardrobe Stylist: Anny Ly @anny__ly
Model: Debby Lomotey @dhebbsz
Model: Anna Silchuk @silchuk_aa
Model: Dasha @envoleemodels
Model: Yana Lee @yana_leeshka
Clothes: Vipavenue @vipavenue
Photographer: Dmitriy Klimanov @dmklimanov

Enjoyed this article? Like Raw on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.