Fast Fashion, which is the quick turnaround of new designs from the runway to cheap and trendy fashion retailers, has come under growing criticism in recent years due to its association with pollution and waste, mass production and over consumption, and poor working conditions. By most accounts, the Fast Fashion revolution has largely been the result of globalization and the movement of garment manufacturing from unionized factories in the United States and Canada to low-wage plants in developing countries with few labour and environmental regulations.
What are the effects of Fast Fashion?
Despite its affordable price point, many consumers are increasingly turning away from Fast Fashion, instead preferring ethically-made and sustainably-sourced fashion pieces. The collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 – the deadliest garment-related accident in world history – combined with the release of The True Cost documentary last year, have helped to bring attention to the impact of Fast Fashion on people and the planet. Consumers are more aware than ever before of the harmful effects of cheap, trendy fashion: diminishing fresh water reservoirs for cotton crop production; the introduction of man-made compounds and synthetic fibres into the environment; and the depletion of natural resources and fossil fuels, particularly in textile and garment production. Add to this the disposable nature of clothing pioneered by many of today’s top fashion retailers and it’s no surprise that the majority of women’s garments are worn less than seven times before ending up at your neighbourhood goodwill or, even worse, a landfill.
What is Slow Fashion?
First emerging in the late 2000’s as part of the global sustainability movement, Slow Fashion has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years in response to the mainstream fashion industry. At the heart of a growing number of clothing brands offering alternatives to Fast Fashion is the desire to combat the unnecessary wastefulness of the global garment industry, to maintain fair wages and working conditions, and to lower carbon footprints by minimizing waste as much as possible.
What is being done to encourage the Slow Fashion movement?
In an effort to encourage locally-made products and apparel, while at the same time creating an alternative to the Fast Fashion options available in the city, some of Ottawa’s most glamorous and environmentally-conscious fashionistas were brought together on October 26 by EcoEquitable as part of the Metamorphosis Eco Fashion Show and Marketplace. With a welcome from Sophie Grégoire Trudeau via video stream and with CTV’s Melissa Lamb acting as the host for the evening, the event celebrated the creations of 24 environmentally-minded fashion designers at the stunning Lansdowne Horticulture Building.
Offering a supportive environment for local designers to exhibit and sell their innovative designs, the fashion show featured unique, one-of-a-kind pieces from Tam Nguyen’s casual clothing wear, Marie-Louise Maluta’s bright African-influenced patterns, and Adam Prince’s bold coloured garments inspired by the landscapes of Tofino.
Thanks to EcoEquitable, a local charity and social enterprise founded in 2002, temporary employment and skills development training through small scale textile recycling is being provided to new Canadians, especially immigrant women, throughout the Ottawa area. Through events like Metamorphosis, their efforts to green the community and reduce waste while supporting budding apparel entrepreneurs is helping to transform Ottawa into the new Slow Fashion capital of Canada.
Written by Danuta Whetton, an eco-conscious fashionista and EcoEquitable board member.