Sustainability trumps ‘fast’ fashion


In a world largely governed by trends, a growing trend that cannot be overlooked something is that of sustainable fashion over ‘fast’ fashion. ‘Fast’ fashion, and its associated impact on the environment, continues to pose a threat to the Australian fashion industry and vocal industry leaders are taking a hard stand against it.

As Marie Kinsella, CEO, International Exhibition & Conference Group explains: “Locally, around 227 000 tonnes of discarded clothing are sent to a landfill each year, of which only 7 000 tonnes are recycled.”

British fashion designer Patrick Grant was quoted saying: “We have enough clothing on the planet right now to dress the next six generations of the human race”.

Yet, many consumers can’t let go of ‘fast’ fashion and continue to purchase cheap and poorly made garments.

Elizabeth Formosa, Founder of Fashion Equipped is one of the trailblazers taking a stand against ‘fast’ fashion. Her not-to-be-missed talk on a ‘Conscious Fashion Blueprint’ at this year’s Global Sourcing Expo at the International Convention Centre in Sydney shines a spotlight on conscious fashion as a growing movement. “By embracing sustainability, social responsibility and ethical practices, you can equip your business with the tools needed to succeed in the modern era,” explains Marie.

It’s not on trend

One of the biggest issues that we face locally is scarce resources to recycle textiles. “Clothing waste has become one of the largest contributors to the country’s waste problem.”

‘Fast’ fashion makes use of cheap, low-quality materials who often fall apart and are then quickly discarded. “The industry is also characterised by fast production and consumption cycles, resulting in the excessive use of natural resources, high energy consumption and pollution via microplastics,” says Marie.

Another key issue that the industry faces – globally – is that of cheap labour. “Brands look to developing countries to produce clothes at a lower cost – using cheap labour. These workers are generally exploited and paid low wages in unsafe working environments.”

Speaking to the ongoing issue around child labour, Marie says that this is a human rights violation that bolsters the poverty cycle that we are working so hard to break.

Global Sourcing Expo acts a platform to drive further awareness

The Global Sourcing Expo attracts exhibitors from 13 countries, many of whom, like the Textile Export Promotion Council, prioritise sustainable production processes and materials to create high-quality and long-lasting garments.

“One of the biggest priorities of the 2023 Global Sourcing Expo is promoting transparency and accountability throughout the international sourcing supply chain,” says Marie. “Our exhibitors are a testament to this commitment, as is the high number of sustainability-focused seminars in our Global Sourcing Seminar program.”

And while she acknowledges that Australia still has a long way to go in the fight against fast fashion, Marie comments that the industry has observed a noticeable shift in consumers prioritising ethically-made products.

“The conscious consumerism mindset is definitely spreading, and many buyers are seeking accountability for whether or not the clothes they purchase were produced under ethical and sustainable conditions. We look forward to engaging with buyers, suppliers and industry experts in the Global Sourcing Expo in July and continuing this important conversation,” she concludes.

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