Whitehouse Cox explores the impact of fast fashion on our world.
“We commonly advise our readers to avoid the trap of buying products that are cheaply made or trendy in style – for good menswear rarely needs to be replaced.” – Articles of Style’s The True Cost of Fast Fashion
At Whitehouse Cox, we pride ourselves on the fact the average lifespan of our products is nine to ten years.
That’s nine to ten years with daily use. During this time, your luxury leather item will age gracefully. Taking on its own unique aesthetic as it truly becomes your accessory.
It’s a testament to everyone who works in Whitehouse Cox’s Walsall factory that products of such quality still exist. Manufacturing in England ensures Whitehouse Cox is a sustainable brand that can be trusted to deliver exceptional quality goods, handmade by people who work in the best possible conditions.
Whitehouse Cox has operated this way since 1875, consciously manufacturing luxury leather goods with an understanding of our societal impact and a desire to look after those we employ.
It’s no secret that the majority of the fashion industry has long since abandoned such sensibilities in favour of fast fashion, a term coined to describe the growing predilection of high-street brands to ignore the traditional method of waiting for new seasons to unveil new products.
Instead, fast fashion retailers release new products weekly and sometimes even daily within their stores. This ruthless process is seen as a means to shift more “cheap product to low-end consumers and increase annual profits”.
Fast fashion isn’t sustainable if you manufacture in England and, rather poignantly, it seems it’s not sustainable anywhere else either.
The affects of this process were recently revealed in a telling documentary called The True Cost. Some of the research from the documentary highlights that:
“1. The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter.
Right behind the oil industry!
2. The world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year.
This is up 400% from two decades ago.
3. One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.
A majority of these workers are women earning less than $3 per day.
4. 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years.
Partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds, courtesy of Monsanto.
5. Only 10% of the clothes people donate to charity or thrift stores get sold.
The rest end up in landfills or flooding markets in developing countries like Haiti where they are bought by the box and kill the local industry.”
–Taken from 1 Million Women
Fast fashion retailers can manufacture wherever they want, whenever they want. This means factories in impoverished countries must compete with one another, driving the price of production to rock bottom levels and increasing the hardship of workers.
That hardship extends far beyond the terribly low wages and inhumane conditions endured by workers in life-threatening environments.
This came to the fore after the 2013 Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh in which over a thousand people lost their lives.
“Brands, retailers and consumers have all become fantastically adept at divorcing fashion from the very fact that it is been made by an army of living, breathing, human beings with resources which are depleting the environment” – Lucy Firth, The True Cost
Farmers producing the crops for low-cost clothing manufacture are often made to buy certain patented seeds and spray their fields with poisonous chemicals that are bad for our health and the environment.
Such chemicals are banned in the west but farmers in India will freely spray them, to protect their crops, without mask or footwear to protect themselves. Still, the technology behind the chemicals isn’t foolproof and crops often fail.
This isn’t just disastrous for a farmer’s income but stories of farmer’s committing suicide due to failing crops are rife. Even if the crops are successful, they often have to sell the cotton at rock bottom prices, leaving the workers impoverished and constantly in limbo.
Then there’s the consumer. Buying clothes that they will probably dispose of after wearing 7 to 8 times. By this point, the clothing will have probably lost its shape and perhaps even colour.
This fast fashion clothing might then go to charity to be sold on, but only 10% of the clothing of this sort that goes to charity can be sold. The rest gets shipped across the world and dumped in a landfill.
“In the UK alone we throw away more than a million tonnes of clothes a year and then replace them with two million tonnes of new ones. Our wardrobes are bulging and so are our landfill sites where 50 per cent of these, often non biodegradable, garments end up.” – Alex James, Revealing The Ugly Facts About Fast Fashion
The environmental impact of this process is also astonishing. The clothes in landfill are synthetic fabrics that will take decades, perhaps even longer, to degrade. Whilst the chemicals the farmers use to protect their crops pollute the world’s rivers and oceans.
“To address that problem, consumers need to be wiser in their purchases and companies need to re-think the strategy of turning out as many clothing items as they can.” – Triple Pundit, High Environmental Cost of Fast Fashion
The lure of fast fashion is understandable but fashion should be seen as an investment. If you’re replacing items every one to two months after just 7-8 wears it’s not economically viable, it’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for workers in foreign countries.
It’s easy to forget where our clothing and accessories come from, to become desensitised from the origins when all we see is the final product presented on a shelf with a low price tag.
Now, more than ever, it’s time for consumers to focus on quality over quantity. Fashion should be seen as an investment rather than a cost, good items should last you many years not months and whilst it might cost a bit more it will help this planet and its people.
To discover products that stand the test of time, explore our collections today. These products are all handmade in England, using locally sourced leather wherever possible and will last an average of nine to ten years with daily use.