GUEST POST: Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

GUEST POST: Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

Can apparel manufacturing be less damaging to the environment?

I’ve written a lot about just how badly fashion (apparel) pollutes our planet. But there are those in the industry making tremendous strides in mitigating – if not reversing that damage.

Rare & Fair is a “boutique slow fashion brand promoting handmade clothes and accessories by artisans using natural, sustainable materials.” In this post, I particularly wanted to share how they take into consideration not only the chemical and industrial pollution caused by fast fashion, but also a holistic understanding of how fast fashion affects the community.”

As of today, it is common knowledge that the fashion industry is having a detrimental impact on the environment – with water contamination, waste, and carbon pollution at an all time high, it’s clear that something needs to change.

What you may not be aware of is the effects that fast fashion has on people, specifically garment workers and their families.

You can read the entire post here.

Shipping and the Messy Part About Returns

Shipping and the Messy Part About Returns

Sending Things.

I have a security guard in my apartment who spends the better part of the day playing postman. My building has roughly 300 residents. So the poor guy’s logging in, storing, distributing, and verifying hundreds of packages and getting to know all of us. Everyday. This must suck for him.

This post isn’t an opinion like the others. I’m not here to resolve/blame/shame anything or anyone. Instead, I want to focus on an aspect of ecommerce that is critical: shipping.

Salesforce recently predicted the value of holiday returns this year to top $280 billion, an amount equivalent to the GDP of Finland.

The returns from online shopping last year created 5 billion tons of landfill waste and produced as much carbon dioxide as from 3 million cars driving for one year, according to Optoro, a tech company that manages retailers’ returned items.

The process of sending back unwanted items and potentially re-selling them results in 10 billion unnecessary transportation trips every year.

It’s Expensive

It’s often overlooked when planning an ecommerce site. It can eat up to 30% of your profit. It requires staff and customer service ’cause things will go wrong every f’ing day. And, if you’re not, say Amazon or Target or Walmart, you’re paying insanely higher prices than they are

It is Incredibly Confusing

Even if you are Amazon or a super-shipper, things don’t get easier:

Many parcel delivery services have struggled with the surge in demand for shipments and have began imposing measures to deal with the influx. Other shipping services such as FedEx (FDX) and USPS have increased their pricing premiums for the holidays and hired thousands of temporary workers to handle shipments.
UPS says it added 20 new facilities and 14 additional aircraft for the peak season. It also expanded its weekend operations and the speed of its ground delivery.
Meanwhile, Amazon (AMZN), one of the country’s largest retailers, has skated ahead without much shipping troubles thanks to relying on its own delivery service and drivers to accommodate its slew of shipments. This past weekend, Amazon reported bringing in nearly $5 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a 60% increase from last year.
 
— CNN’s Jordan Valinksy contributed to this report.

It Creates Major Inefficiencies

Overall, about 10% of all purchases are returned, according to industry estimates. But items bought online are three times more likely to be returned than those bought in-store. For some categories of clothing think shoes and women’s jeans  more than half of online purchases are returned.

 

Buy Now! We Mean It!:

The “buy now, choose later” online shopping approach was common even before the pandemic hit. But now, more shoppers do it than don’t, according to some research.

A survey from shipping and logistics company Narvar, which counts 800 retailers as clients, found that nearly two-thirds of shoppers this year bought multiple sizes or colors of the same item, with the intention of returning some of the items. Buyers of luxury goods, as well as shoppers under 30, were most likely to use this practice, known in industry parlance as “bracketing.”

“Consumers were already in the habit of using their bedrooms as fitting rooms for online purchases, but the practice skyrocketed this year,” Narvar found.

It’s Not Them, It’s You (Kinda)

So, there’s this massive shipping network carry to — and from consumers who, ya know, like the convenience and the pretty pictures. And I have no clue how humans can deliver something to my home at warp speed. But they do it. And it is emerging as a significant environmental danger:

The ease of returns is a major ecommerce selling point. Ecologically, it’s pretty ugly.

“Unfortunately we’re going to see more and more of an increase in returns. That has not slowed down,” said Narvar CEO Amit Sharma.

The more shoppers buy, the more they return. The reverse is also true: a generous return policy makes shoppers more likely to buy from a website. That’s why, despite the losses that returns represent, companies are loath to tighten free-return policies lest they drive away shoppers.

“It’s now a consumer expectation,” said Sharma. “It’s table stakes.”

Fuck Fashion

Fuck Fashion

I’ve written a lot about fashion and ecommerce.

It’s an easy target. A cultural WTF? $10,000 for a handbag? And who is this “Coco Chanel” anyway?

Why do I care? And why am I writing about this on an ecommerce site? ‘Cause:

Online apparel sales accounted for 38.6% of total U.S. apparel sales in 2019 and 100% of the growth in retail clothing sales. … In fact, ecommerce contributed all of the 1.9% year-over-year growth in total U.S. apparel sales

(Source)

It’s also destroying our planet. It is, without dispute, second only to the oil & gas industries in the amount of damage it does to our environment. The World Economic Forum has a few stats and alarming facts.

So this is why I’m posting two videos (three, kinda… maybe more). The first is a fascinating overview of the entire mess:

 

The True Cost

The True Cost is a documentary film exploring the impact of fashion on people and the planet. Storyline: This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

The Machinists

This 2010 British documentary film directed by Hannan Majid and Richard York documents the exploitation of garment workers in Bangladesh with the personal stories of three young women working in factories in Dhaka.

SO MUCH MORE HERE

From ELUXE Magazine, a list of five of the most ethically-probing documentaries about the fashion industry

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF FASHION

From Investopedia, a studied financial analysis of the fashion industry. Always follow the money.

BONUSES +:

Chanel Spring-Summer 2018

In which we are hypnotized by how glamorous we are not when we are at the airport. Obviously, there is no coach class. It’s pure performance art. Good job, Karl. RIP.

FUCK FASHION

By my newest, most favoritest diva, Manila Luzon. The manatee kills me.

H&M: First Major Retailer to Recycle Consumer Clothing

H&M: First Major Retailer to Recycle Consumer Clothing

New York (CNN Business) —

Fast fashion chain H&M wants to turn discarded clothes into something new to wear again — within five hours.

The Sweden-based retailer is about to start giving consumers at its Stockholm store the option to turn in used garments that it will then transform into one of three different clothing items.
Once the program begins Monday, customers will be able to bring in a garment they don’t want, which will be cleaned and put into a machine called Looop. The machine will disassemble it, shredding it into fibers that are then used to create new clothing.
The effort comes amid arising volume of global clothing waste, and growing concern over fast fashion’s contribution to it.
The company said the recycling process, which can handle more than one garment at a time, doesn’t use water or chemicals and sometimes might need “sustainably sourced” raw materials added in, but it hopes to make “this share as small as possible.”
 
The entire process takes about five hours and is visible to shoppers
 
Similarly, customers can drop off used clothing, footwear and accessories in more than 1,300 Zara stores. Last year, Zara announced that all of the cotton, linen and polyester used by the company will be organic, sustainably sourced or recycled by 2025.
 
“One of the biggest drivers of clothing over consumption are fast fashion sellers,” said Deborah Drew, analyst and social impact lead with the global research non-profit World Resources Institute. “Large companies like H&M and Zara can have a really big, transformational impact on the industry and on consumers if they lead the way in facilitating change.”

Read the full article here.

Fast Destruct Fashion

Fast Destruct Fashion

I’ve written quite a bit about fast fashion. That’s apparel produced in weeks, shipped, and sold before the season even begins. It’s what we count on at Zara, H&M, Target, Walmart. It is simple, inexpensive but high in quantity (not quality) and it makes a ton of money.

It also is incredibly ecologically damaging in so many ways; it can bankrupt nations and cause unnecessary deaths. Not pretty. To put this into perspective:

  • Producing a pair of jeans consumes even more water — around 3,000 liters — due to the dyeing and bleaching involved, according to calculations by Quantis.
  • Making a single pair of jeans emits around 20 kg of CO2, the same amount produced during a 49-mile car journey.
  • The industry is responsible for high carbon emissions, wastewater production, and large amounts of landfill waste.
  • Fast fashion is second only to oil as the world’s largest polluter.

The fast fashion industry produces ~1 billion garments annually.

Profits are around 3 trillion dollars per year. What impact does this large amount of production have on our environment? Production at this scale is pushing our natural systems to the absolute limit.

The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

This is about 5% of global emissions. That’s more than the emissions created by air travel and international shipping.

In 2015, the fast fashion industry used 80 billion cubic metres of freshwater.

The industry is one of the largest consumers of freshwater on the planet. To put this in perspective 80 billion cubic metres is enough to fill about 32,000 Olympic size swimming pools.

Production of textiles uses about 3500 different chemicals.

The industry uses chemicals to produce, dye, coat, and soften fabrics. Many of these chemicals are harmful to humans and the environment. Through wastewater, chemicals used to produce clothing often end up in our waterways and oceans.

Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there.

In comparison to synthetic materials cotton may not actually be better for the planet. This crop uses large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers. Globally, we use about 11% of pesticides and 24% of insecticides on cotton crops. Currently, less than 1% of cotton crops are organic. On top of this cotton requires an enormous amount of water.

The above comes from an excellent source:

Fast Fashion Facts: What you need to know

from 7Billion for 7Seas.com

I rely heavily on Print-on-Demand companies like Printify and Printful. So I becoming increasingly concerned that I am becoming part of the problem and not helping the issue

 

This company has a pretty smart response (and they’re cute, too! BONUS!)

Plays Well With Others

Plays Well With Others

cgk.ink is very connected

We actively pursue connections, affiliations, and cooperatives to explore how ecommerce revolutionizes our economy on a daily basis. 

This means more than just inviting other designers to our marketplace, it means working with them to get a clear vision of how their work might transfer to digital marketplaces, how to take advantage of the newest functions of technology and, most importantly, how to sell and fulfill efficiently.

We’re pleased that one of the most innovative designers in Europe has agreed to work with us. Little Shiva is an artist based in Charleroi, Belgium who has designed, illustrated and fabricated a fantastic portfolio that focuses on education, jazz, animals and well, whatever she feels like. And she has agreed to design several exclusive designs found only on cgk.ink. How cool is this?

She is, of course, well known by The Gentleman Octopus and has created some stunning new products.

Latest Designs from

Little Shiva

We’re also working with organizations, non-profits, individuals, and collectives to bring us together and find weird, unexpected ways that ecommerce is presenting itself to us.

Wanna join? Drop us a note!