What is fast fashion and why is it harmful?
Fast fashion is an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of fashion that is both trendy and inexpensive. To remain "on-trend", retailers create multiple new low-quality designs on a weekly basis, often exploiting workers with cheap labor and poor working conditions. This leads to a flood of cheaply made products that quickly become waste, making fast fashion a detriment to our environment and our own well-being.
The fashion industry is the second biggest contributor to global warming. While some brands split their output into four seasons (Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter, Resort, and Pre-Fall), fast fashion companies produce roughly 52 "micro-seasons" per year. Consequently, tons (quite literally) of "trendy", low-quality clothes are thrown away annually. In the US alone, about 11 million tons of clothing become waste on a yearly basis. These pieces almost never break down and, due to the use of toxic chemicals and dyes in the production process, release toxins into the air over hundreds of years. Many of these companies outsource their labor to other countries where workers are underpaid and forced to live in inhumane conditions. Some of these fast-fashion brands include, but are not limited to, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Topshop, and Zara (gasp! I used to love shopping at Zara too).
Fast fashion not only affects our environment and the people who make our products, but it also pollutes our minds as consumers. Seeing new trends arise weekly (sometimes more often than that) instills the mindset that we have to constantly change to fit in. It also sends the message to consumers that we must rely on the industry to shape our own expressive behaviors (which simply isn't true!). In effect, this never-ending demand for mindless change has a negative impact on our mental health.
As free-thinking individuals, we have the opportunity to distance ourselves from the trap of the fast fashion industry and establish our own style by investing in sustainable brands shaped by slow fashion.
What is slow fashion and how is SJLA Jewelry part of the movement?
Slow fashion is an approach to consuming and creating fashion consciously and with integrity. The movement encourages slower production schedules, fair wages and working conditions, lower carbon footprints, and zero waste. It is a revolutionary reaction to fast fashion, in that it encourages high-quality production, mindful design, and a respect for the environment. By rethinking our relationship to fashion, slow fashion brands are freeing consumers from the mental, physical, and environmental pressures of the fast fashion industry.
From using the aims of slow fashion as a blueprint for our brand, SJLA Jewelry is an active participant in the movement against fast fashion and excessive consumption. Although this is a relatively small accessory line, we believe that mindful production and consumption can start anywhere. All of our pieces are made-to-order, which is sustainable on the production level, as well as on the environmental level. We only obtain as many supplies as I need to make each piece. Even when we retire particular styles we don't have any waste supplies leftover or thrown away.
Our pieces are each made with the intention to remain special, versatile, and timeless to defeat the pressure of changing trends. The brand is most inspired by jewelry and fashion from the early 20th century which still remains popular today. The gold pendant, the glass and stone chokers, and the pearl earrings all emerged over 100 years ago and have proven to be dependable pieces. Our pieces are inspired by this elegance, and also by the playful way that we interpret our world, giving them a unique twist on older styles that are intended to last a lifetime.
The materials we use for my pieces are made to last and purchased locally. By engaging in mindful manufacturing and being transparent about our process, we hope to inspire thoughtful consumption not only at my shop, but on a larger scale too.
How is SJLA Jewelry a sustainable small business?
We am constantly inspired by eco-friendly and sustainable practices in every part of our lives. We challenge ourselves to live ethically and as low waste as possible. In our brand, we try to be as sustainable as we can by staying informed and acting out of respect for our environment. In addition to producing pieces made-to-order and shopping locally, we source materials from environmentally friendly, fair-trade suppliers. We also aim to be eco-friendly in our shipping practices. By including a Climate Friendly Cart at checkout, customers have the option to contribute $2 to reduce the carbon footprint of any purchase. We use as little packaging as possible, and the packaging we do use is either reusable, 100% recycled, or compostable.
We also often give back to communities in need by donating portions of sales to various organizations. In the past year we have donated to organizations like the Climate Emergency Fund and the ACLU.
How can I learn more about sustainable living and consuming?
Here are some dependable resources: