GC Magazine - Galleria Cavour

Sustainable fashion and Fast Fashion: an ethical revolution

24 April - 2024

Fast Fashion e Moda sostenibile

We have often spoken on Galleria Cavour‘s social media about luxury as a resource and engine not only economic but also socio-cultural. In his “Philosophical Dictionary“, Voltaire himself praised Athens’ vocation for luxury, capable of producing beauty and making great thinkers flourish, in comparison with the aridity of Sparta, capable of generating at most a few good fighters.

Even today, luxury rhymes with quality, ethics, work, but increasingly also with sustainability. All the biggest haute couture brands have, for some time now, been carrying out initiatives in favour of the environment and deploying tools against waste. In recent decades, however, the system has begun to come to terms with the invasion of fast fashion: a phenomenon that has cannibalised the industry and disabused the buyer of the habit of seeing the product purchased as an investment, thus triggering a harmful mechanism based on the speed of desire, consumption and poor product durability.

With its low costs, often obtained with policies of wage exploitation of labour and no attention to the processing of materials, according to Greenpeace fast fashion is one of the main consequences of the pollution of our planet. Greenhouse gas emissions, desertification, millions of tonnes of textile waste to be disposed of are just some of the disastrous consequences that allow new collections to be produced every month with low quality and bargain prices ready to be consumed and thrown away within a season.

At the same time, anything that is handcrafted, with higher labour costs adequately compensated and longer lead times, has a higher retail cost but also a lower impact on the environment. Luxury also means this: new consumer societies have a duty to consider the price but also the value of the product from the point of view of quality and sustainability in order to become increasingly conscious buyers.

Another major factor to be analysed is the so-called scale of production: whereas ethical and high-end brands are driven by the alternation of seasons and more regular production rhythms, fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion base their system on an economy of scale based on large sales volumes and, consequently, on a frenzied production that allows the retail price to be lowered through chronic exploitation of labour. Fast fashion thus represents a fictitious fashion democracy where the whole system and society pays the price.

As Elizabeth L. Cline explains in her book “You’re crazy to wear it! Why Cheap Fashion Poisons Us and the Planet“, buying more carefully means buying better. Therefore, the concept of awareness, which revolves around three pillars in complete contradiction with fast fashion, takes on an even more important meaning linked to luxury: responsible innovation, supply chain traceability and the circular approach. A social pioneer and fashion queen like Vivienne Westwood used to say: “Buy. Choose well. Make it last“. Fashion and the future of our planet are also in your hands.