FASHION WITHOUT VICTIMS

A guide to sustainable fashion consumption
 
The fashion industry knows many victims. From the classic fashion victim who orders 20 pieces on Zalando only to send half of them back, to the farmers and workers who work under inhumane conditions in the cultivation of raw materials and in manufacturing. Fashion consumption creates jobs and economic growth in developing countries around the world, but also leaves behind the majority of ecological and social costs there. The biggest victim, however, is our planet, which is unable to hide us cries for help in the care labels of clothing from textile discounters. The fashion industry, as the third largest industry in the world, generates over one billion tons of CO2 in a year. That's more than all annual international flights and shipping combined. In addition to CO2 emissions, the oceans and their inhabitants are also polluted by microplastics from textile fibers and toxic chemicals.
 
Status quo: We buy it anyway

In 2015, Greenpeace took a look in Germany's clothing bins and came to the conclusion that people aged 18-65 buy an average of 60 items of clothing per year. A new one every six days. Since our bodies are quite different from those of an octopus, we soon realize that we don't really need that much clothing. As a result, every second person replaces shoes, tops and pants that are as good as new after less than a year.2 Our fashion taste doesn't last much longer than that. But do we really reinvent ourselves every year, or shouldn't we ask ourselves whether fashion can be addictive? Everyone knows the neurological kick of buying a new piece of clothing. Shopping makes you happy, at least in the short term. It stimulates the reward center in the brain, much like sex or drugs. Shopping queens, however, are increasingly complaining of mental exhaustion. Because the accumulation of more and more clothes overwhelms and makes tired.

The longing from the closet

Fashion is fun and an expression of our personality, a game with identity. Clothes make it possible to carry one's own distinctiveness to the outside world. In the process, we unconsciously place our style and creativity in the hands of large fashion chains that produce new trends at ever shorter intervals. While H&M offers up to 12 collections per year, Zara, a brand belonging to Inditex, currently even brings up to 24 collections per year into the stores. Copies of designer fashion are bought en masse and then discarded. In this way, fashion degenerates into a disposable article and educates its consumers to become disposable personalities who wear something new every season.
 
Today's trends are tomorrow's trash.

So what happens to the folklore blouse that was bought online for 15 euros and worn once, after you realize with disillusionment that it doesn't look the same on your own body as it does on Chiara Ferragini? If the folklore blouse were made of high-quality materials, it might make it into a second-hand store. But in fact, 80% of the clothes end up in the residual waste immediately - only 20% of the clothes make it into an old clothes collection box. The 80% from the residual waste ensures that every second a garbage truck full of clothes is dumped or incinerated somewhere in the world.

Fashion Apocalypse - Or Where the Must-Have Actually Starts to Become Garbage.

Today, fashion has not only become a disposable product for consumers, but also for many producers and retailers. By the time the goods reach the store, a quarter to half of the fabrics have already ended up in the trash as offcuts and production waste4. The core problem of the fashion industry is overproduction. So basically, less fabric needs to be produced and it needs to be handled more efficiently. Many newcomer labels - like us - take advantage of this and, in addition to sustainable, environmentally friendly fabrics, use only dead stock, i.e. material created through overproduction. In this way, idle goods don't end up in landfills and less fabric has to be reproduced overall. Because the planet is also slowly reaching its limits in terms of new production: Every year, 108 million tons of non-renewable raw materials are used for textile production5 - these are raw materials for which the speed of their consumption exceeds the speed of their regeneration. So we are heading straight for total depletion of our natural resources. Yet over 100 billion new garments were produced in 2014.5
Of these, 60 percent contain polyester3 - a synthetic plastic made from non-renewable petroleum. "The big problem with polyester clothing is that these fibers are basically pure microplastic," says Nunu Kaller, consumer spokesperson for Greenpeace Austria. The small particles are invisible to the naked eye and enter rivers and oceans via wastewater, where they kill fish and other animals. On average, 68 milligrams of microplastics end up in the water per kilo of laundry. In Austria alone, we wash 126 tons of plastic particles into the wastewater each year. 6

Time for a new fashion consciousness

A sustainable textile industry must slow down and close the loop. To make the circular idea a reality, quality and design must be geared to a longer life than one season. The fact is, however, that the trend is currently moving in the opposite direction: we consume twice as much clothing today as we did 15 years ago - and wear it for only half as long2. Even wearing clothes for two years instead of one would reduce CO2 emissions by 24 percent. 2
 
Above all, it is reflective purchasing decisions that can significantly reduce the ecological footprint. English designer Vivienne Westwood sums it up when she says: "Buy less, choose well, make it last." So before making your next impulse purchase, it's worth asking:
 
Do I really need this?

In many cases, the answer is no. According to a study by Greenpeace, each adult person owns an average of 95 items of clothing (not including underwear and socks). Less than 20 of these are used regularly.3 And many items are worn less than ten times before being thrown away again.4

Sebastian from the Glein Shop in Vienna's 7th district says: "In the best case, we only buy things that we really like, want to use for a long time and can use." He himself works in production exclusively with materials from sustainable production, which are as good as possible for the product, the users and the environment. But it's not only in the manufacturing process that Glein pays attention to a long service life - at the time of sale, there is also detailed information on proper care. And if a repair should ever become necessary, you can contact the store at any time.

Does it have to be new?

Buying vintage is good for the environment. Especially with outerwear, second hand is an alternative to buying new. Moreover, second-hand clothing has never been hipper than it is today. Environmental commitment has finally become wearable. And financially, too. There is no shortage of supply either. There are few exceptions where we, as founders of MIYAGI, still buy new pieces ourselves - underwear is one of them. Second hand stores and flea markets are good ways to reuse what is already there. Those who turn to secondhand can reduce their own carbon footprint by a whopping 82 percent.2 But buying secondhand isn't just a boon for the environment, it's also a boon for personal style.
 
"No way of shopping inspires one's creativity as much as second hand," says Clarissa of Graz-based vintage store Dogdays of Summer. "And none creates more freedom to invent yourself." Second hand and vintage fashion is about expression and individuality. Not about fashion trends, gender stereotypes and clothing sizes. When choosing from a range of unique pieces, the categories of man/woman and S/M/L play only a secondary role. Much more important are the questions: Do I like it? Does it fit me? Do I feel comfortable in it? In this way, second-hand fashion fulfills a purpose that goes far beyond sheer clothing and breaks down social role models.

 
Where do I shop?

When it comes to bodywear, or if you're looking for a new piece, it's all about making conscious purchasing decisions: What exactly am I looking for? Which manufacturers come into question? Who upholds ecological and social standards? Seals and certifications can be good pointers, but advertising messages usually are not. All the big fashion houses are trying to greenwash their dirty laundry these days. Even Primark has a code of ethics on its website.
 
 
How do I care for what I have?

Washing clothes is not a good thing for the environment per se. Neither is not washing them. However, between stinky and environmentally sinful lies a wide range of resource-saving options. A few washing tips for environmental lovers:
 
Fill up the washing machine
Every wash cycle you can save is a gain.
 
Wash at 30°C or 40°C instead of 60°C
Low washing temperatures not only protect your laundry, but also the environment, as less energy is consumed.

Use ecological detergents.
Many ingredients in modern detergents cannot be broken down even after the wastewater has been treated in a sewage treatment plant. Eco detergents make the laundry just as clean and a clear conscience to boot.
 
Good things last!

Basically, the longer we wear something, the better our eco-balance. Of course, this also means that we have to buy clothes with a corresponding longevity as a first step. If quality and design are only geared to the lifespan of one season, this becomes a challenge that not only causes consumers' environmental efforts to fail. The idea of recycling cannot be implemented in this way either. This is because most garments produced today are made of low-quality blended fabrics that are neither particularly durable nor can they be cleanly recycled. In some cases, such fibers can be reused, but no longer as clothing, for example, but as cleaning rags. And so the recycled product first becomes waste again. The dream of the eternal cycle propagated by many textile companies is thus shattered.
 
Sustainable fashion is a complex issue. Jürgen Janssen of the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles says: "There is no quick answer to the question of how to buy as 'good' as possible - but that doesn't mean you shouldn't think about it. More sensible alternatives are everywhere today." Modern labels like Dogdays of Summer, Glein, Margaret and Hermione and us are trying to offer just such alternatives. High quality instead of cheap junk. Lover's pieces instead of throwaway fashion. Timeless aesthetics instead of tomorrow-again-lame. The decision is yours in the end.
 


 



 






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