Our world is heavily based on convenience and speed. Think about it for a moment. Are you hungry? There’s an app for that to deliver you food in under 30 minutes. Want to buy new clothes? Order online now and receive it tomorrow! Convenience has taken control of every industry and is no more clear than when we look at the fashion industry. Just take a scroll on Instagram and I’m sure you’ll find at least 5 influencers promoting some new outfit or fashion piece (with a link on where to buy it!). This convenience and availability results from the fast fashion trend. While this has made fashion much more available and affordable, it’s also a big issue in terms of the environment and sustainability. We’re going to explore this evolution and see how the cashmere industry is not a fast fashion industry!
What is Fast Fashion and Why is it a Problem?
Originally, we considered clothes shopping a rather unique event. You would only really go shopping for new clothing during the change of seasons, or a few times a year. Prior to the 1990s clothing was rather expensive. But around the 1990s companies discovered ways to make clothing with cheaper materials, lower labor costs, and inexpensive shipping. These discoveries and savings reflected in a lower sticker price for the average consumer. However, as prices dropped, companies needed to ensure they could still record strong profits. This is where fast fashion comes into play. Fast Fashion refers to the practice of getting new designs from the runway into consumers hands at a faster pace.
Coupled with cheaper prices, we saw fast fashion labels pump out new designs more frequently. Instead of having the traditional 4 season calendar for new clothes, these labels have adopted 52 “micro-seasons” a year. Essentially, you are being introduced to a new fashion design every week. Instead of buying new clothes each season, you can buy any time of the year! Consumers shopping behaviours changed. People have adopted a throwaway culture to clothes. For example, the average person wears only about 20% of their clothing 80% of the time! That is a shocking amount of waste. So, you might only wear that new dress twice before it’s thrown away into the giveaway pile, or worse, the garbage. This has become a big issue when you consider that 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year. There is a lot of unnecessary clothing in the world!
Photo by: Markus Winkler
Cashmere is not Fast Fashion
The fast fashion industry is a problem. Currently, it pollutes more than the whole airline and maritime shipping combined. The demand for constant, new fashion is unsustainable. But how can we slow down this model? One answer is for consumers to buy products consciously. In the fast fashion world, the goal is to get consumers to buy many times during the year, even when they don’t need it! By shopping consciously, you can choose to buy products that are not so wasteful. Buying cashmere is one way to do this!
Cashmere doesn’t fit well into the fast fashion industry. Harvesting cashmere properly is a time-consuming once a year process because we only want the finest fibers from the yield. You can learn about this process by checking out our previous article. Cutting corners leads to cheaper, poor quality that will not last nearly as long. For instance, the cashmere industry in China produces shorter cashmere fibers for cheaper clothes. This means that they can create more with the same harvest, but the damage to quality ensures the finished product will not be as enjoyable to wear and will not last nearly as long.
Cashmere is an Investment
In Mongolia, the cashmere industry relies on “herded goats,” which means the goats can travel around the season to different grazing pastures. This helps keep them well fed and healthy which means when they moult their winter layers, the herders will get the best quality of cashmere. Crafting good cashmere apparel inherently takes time. But what you, the consumer receive is a quality product that will outlast any fast fashion item. Cashmere designs are worn for more than one season. It is an investment that is treasured, not tossed away after a week. With proper care and maintenance, your cashmere can last for many years, which means you end up needing less clothing each year and then also save money because you chose a wiser investment. Making choices like this can help us solve our fast fashion problem!
At Yavar, we believe in bringing the best cashmere to you for your own experience. Next time you are going to shop, consider making a conscious choice to invest not only in a timeless piece for your wardrobe, but also for investing in making our planet a sustainable one!