Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Part I)

Every so often, you find a writer or a blogger who seems to regularly touch on subjects that affect you or you've thought about quite a bit.  Through Twitter, I discovered Bridgette Raes, a Style Consultant.  Her blog is always interesting, to the point, and almost always spot on.  There are days that I feel like she is putting my fashion thoughts into words!

Recently, she interviewed Elizabeth Cline, the author of the book "Overdressed - The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion."  This is a subject near and dear to my heart so I listened to the interview (and purchased Elizabeth's book for my Kindle).

In the interview, Bridgette and Elizabeth talked about the proliferation of cheap fashion and the high cost to society, the environment, and even our own well-being.  The environmental aspect alone is staggering!  Elizabeth said that we've gone from world fiber use in 1950 of just over a million tons to more than 82 million tons today!  She also notes in the book that UK journalist Lucy Siegle found that the natural resources that go into fiber production every year now demand approximately 145 million tons of coal and somewhere between 1.5 and 2 TRILLION gallons of water.  It definitely sounds ominous when you think of those figures.

Elizabeth also notes that seasonal shopping patterns (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) have given way to continuous consumption at the fast fashion stores.  They are bringing out new trends and merchandise on a weekly (and sometimes, daily) basis!  This, in turn, drives irrational overconsumption of clothing, even when we already have a closetful of those particular items or own very similar styles.

She also highlights a new trend called "shopping haul videos", one of the fastest growing categories on YouTube in 2010.  The "Haulers" unpack their shopping bags on video, providing reviews of each product.  Some attract up to a million hits per video and are courted by fashion brands and retailers who  offer them free products in hopes their stuff will appear in a haul.  Cline notes that haulers are not typically fashion experts - the popularity of their videos lies in what has become a popular pastime in our culture:  Buying a lot of clothes for very little money.

As I continue to read her book, I find myself agreeing with everything she says.  So what does this mean for stores like Zoe?  And for the average consumer?

No comments:

Post a Comment