I remember when I was in college around the age of 18. My socks had holes in them and my grandma had taught me how to “darn” a sock. That is, repair a hole in a piece of fabric. I grabbed a light bulb, stuck it in my sock to the area needing the darning and found some cool yarn I had laying around. Within in a few minutes, I had repaired my sock and could wear it again.
“Fast” forward to today…I am now part owner of a company appropriately called re-hasht. I’m still repairing holes in worn out jeans, used jackets, dresses, anything and everything that can be reused and worn again; along with my partner, Shawn Sarquilla. We created our upcycle business not only to sell clothing and goods, but more importantly, to educate others on making a conscious choice to recycle as well.
The fashion industry developed “fast fashion” in the late 1990’s to keep up with the demand of current fashion trends by manufacturing quickly and at a lower price. Such stores as Forever 21 and H&M are prime examples, offering a plethora of fun styles at a fraction of the cost.
I don’t know exactly when it began to matter to Shawn and I. At some point during the process of creating re-hasht and exploring the fashion world as a whole we became aware of where we wanted to fit. We would discuss the potential of “mass production” at different times. Like "how would we do that?" How could we leap to the next level in our garment production? We “upcycle” everything! The term “Mass Production” even sounded horrible and took away from our purpose, our creative process, our art.
About a year ago, I watched the movie “The True Cost”, a documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story of how the fast fashion clothing industry manufactures garments and what it costs. You can go into Forever 21 and purchase a t-shirt for $2. Think about the cost of the fabric and thread for that tee. The pattern cutting and the cost of sewing it.
Now take a closer look at the seamstress sewing your tee in a third world country. A young woman who has a child and the child is laying on the dirt floor sleeping while her mother slaves away making your tee. How much do you think those people are being paid? The garment hasn’t even been packaged or shipped yet, add in those costs. And you paid $2 for that tee that will probable fall apart in less than 6 months of wear.
Do you care now?
Slow fashion is a conscious effort to research what we purchase for our clothing needs. It’s putting the responsibility of doing the right thing on us, paying correctly for the labor put into the clothing we wear. Whether you decide to spend a little more for a garment that has not been manufactured in horrible conditions such as I mentioned above, purchase used, clothing swaps with your friends…we can all play a part in ending the fast fashion’s impact on our world.