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End. Fast. Fashion.

Model twins Brett and Scott Staniland celebrate the beginning of the end of impossibly cheap clothing
Colourful garments on racks and on the floor; fast fashion

This article first appeared in our Organic September issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 08 September 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Earlier this year, the EU overwhelmingly voted in favour of ending fast fashion in a move that stood in sharp contrast to the notorious neglect we have seen from legislators and officials over the last few years.

Governance in the fashion industry has fallen behind; as a result, we have watched an abused industry accelerate to the bottom, exploiting people and the planet while changing our approach to the way we dress every day.

But this news from the EU has the potential to shift the industry in a more positive direction.

The proposed measures would essentially take away all the tools fast fashion brands use to operate the way they do.

Climate targets will be measured and quantified and there will be tougher restrictions on the use of hazardous chemicals.

Brands will be required to consider biodiversity and animal welfare and, central to all this, fast fashion will come under the microscope for its labour abuses and purchasing practices.

This means the exploitation of garment makers and the price manipulation on suppliers will no longer wash.

The changes will eat into key areas where manufacturers’ margins lie, and shake the very foundations of impossibly cheap clothing.

Backing up green claims

Over a month earlier this year, Boohoo twice requested price reductions on orders. Its suppliers are being squeezed, which creates a race to the bottom, and garment makers are bearing the brunt of the competition for cheap labour.

New legal obligations on brands may finally allow for some change in the power that fast fashion brands hold.

Another important development will be around brands’ sustainability claims, which are often tantamount to greenwash.

Building on the Green Claims Code released last year by the Competition and Markets Authority, claims will need to be backed with evidence-based research.

This change has already caused many brands to completely remove some of their eco messaging.

Spotlight on traceability

The first thing each brand will have to invest in is traceability.

As it stands, many brands are unaware of the exact factories their clothes are made in, with many factories sub-contracting to help with the demanding orders.

Everyone will suddenly be able to see where clothes come from, which should be the bare minimum.

A transparent supply chain could make for some startling revelations, and possibly result in legal action on brands that have been shown to break labour laws and source materials from unethical places.

California and New York have begun to change how the fashion industry can use materials already, introducing bans on the ‘forever chemicals’ used in many garments.

This may pave the way for a large switch to natural fibres and change the industry’s reliance on oil-based clothing, most notably polyester.

With this in mind, there could be a shift towards organic and recycled textiles, which would be a huge step for the industry.

The future of organic fashion

Is the future bright for the organic fashion world? Perhaps.

We have spoken in a previous issue about organic content and this year we have seen a pivotal moment in the form of Shein’s controversial influencer trip to its factory.

The aim was to use influencers to paint the picture of a clean, ethical and responsible supply chain.

Rather surprisingly, practically no one bought it, and the influencers found themselves under scrutiny with many of them stepping away from their work with Shein.

In terms of organic content this year, we appear to be moving in a direction where even creators need to source the most organic and natural collaborations, stop the churn of constant outfit rotations and be held accountable for any misleading and greenwashing content online.

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