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SLOW &
ETHICAL INDEX

The sustainable criteria form our Slow & Ethical Index and helps Urbankissed to be consistent and transparent in selecting the fashion we showcase. Look for these standards on our products to make your own value judgement and to shop your values. Become immersed in the new economy of change!

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GIFT CARDS 🧁🎀

Would you like to surprise someone with sustainable clothing? Do you want to convince someone that sustainable clothing is the future? Or do you have a friend who loves slow fashion? Then this voucher is just for you! Choose between a beautiful virtual gift card you can easily print out at home or select the physical voucher which we'll send you with our signature premium envelope.



July 30, 2020 - Editor: Sophie Brunner

The Slow End of Fast Fashion

Up until the 24th of April 2013, when the Rana Plaza collapsed, the world did not realize how bad the fashion industry had become. Since this incident, which killed thousands of workers, fast fashion - a concept originated from brands such as H&M and Zara - the end of fast fashion is foreseeable. But is it really the end of it?

Rated Blog Length | 8min

Photo Source: Fashion Revolution

July 30, 2020 - Editor: Sophie Brunner

The Slow End of Fast Fashion

Up until the 24th of April 2013, when the Rana Plaza collapsed, the world did not realize how bad the fashion industry had become. Since this incident, which killed thousands of workers, fast fashion - a concept originated from brands such as H&M and Zara - the end of fast fashion is foreseeable. But is it really the end of it?

Rated Blog Length | 8min

Photo Source: Fashion Revolution



July 30, 2020 - Editor: Sophie Brunner

The Slow End of Fast Fashion

Up until the 24th of April 2013, when the Rana Plaza collapsed, the world did not realize how bad the fashion industry had become. Since this incident, which killed thousands of workers, fast fashion - a concept originated from brands such as H&M and Zara - the end of fast fashion is foreseeable. But is it really the end of it?

Rated Blog Length | 8min

Photo Source: Fashion Revolution



The Origins of Fast Fashion

Up until the middle of the 20th century, the fashion world ran on four seasons a year. Designers worked several months ahead to predict what consumers would want and to plan for every season. Fashion was prescribed to the high society before it became accessible to everyone. Fashion as a result of conspicuous consumption, which enabled the society to distinguish from other social groups, was prevailed by the “Trickle Down Effect”. During the Industrial Revolution new technological advancements increased productivity. However, the pace of productivity only picked up around the 1960s as young society rejected the sartorial traditions of previous generations as well as embraced cheap garments to follow the newest trends. The 1990s saw a wave of democratization in fashion. Soon, fashion brands were urged to create new ways to keep up with the rising demand for affordable fashion, resulting in offshore manufacturing across developing nations, which allowed brands to save a lot of dollars. Ultimately, “fast fashion" was born. It became increasingly more desirable as well as acceptable to flaunt its love for cheaply made fashion, and seen as savvy to mix high and low fashion, mimicking the culture of materialism and disposability at large. 

But, who was the first "fast fashion" label? Technically, H&M is the longest running fast fashion brand, having launched in Sweden in 1947. However, the answer is not very clear, as many of today’s leaders, including TopShop, Zara and Primark began as smaller brands in Europe in the middle of the 20th century. Zara opened its first shop in Spain in 1975. When Zara launched in the US at the beginning of 1990, the New York Times applied the term "fast fashion" to explain the brand’s mission, stating that it only takes 2 weeks to create a fashion piece.


Photo Source: Fashion Revolution

How Fast Fashion Is Destroying Everything

Fast fashion utilizes trend replication as they appear in real-time, low- quality materials as well as quick manufacturing to offer cheap fashion to the masses. These days, with the influence of social media, trends are initiated from everywhere and are pushed in and out of fashion at a breakneck pace. This indicates that the lead time is usually less than a few weeks. Some retailers are admitting that they aren’t able to catch up. Brands such as Topshop upload 400 styles a week online, while H&M receives shipments of new styles on a daily basis. 

Thus, brands are selling severely low-quality fashion which is not built to last because garments are produced in such a rushed manner. As per the fast fashion documentary “The True Cost”, around 80 pounds of garments per person is thrown away yearly in America alone, a number that has doubled in the last 20 years. These pieces, full of chemicals and lead, spread for years these toxic chemicals in the air as they almost never break down. Companies such as H&M apply dangerous dyes, harmful chemicals and synthetic fabrics that flow into water supplies in foreign countries where the garments are produced and at home where the garments are washed. A worker’s health is permanently being jeopardized through their long working hours, lack of resources and exposure to toxic chemicals. 

The same urgency that throws sustainable and qualitative production out the window also keeps the costs of these fashion pieces extremely low. This enables those labels to earn millions while offering garments at a very low price due to the huge amounts of pieces they sell on a daily basis, no matter the markup or cost. Not only has this led to a throwaway culture and undervalued items as well as raised out the holistic approach towards garments, but garment workers are underfed, underpaid and pushed to their limits.


Photo Source: Fashion Revolution


The Beginning Of Sustainable & Ethical Fashion

Even though the whole fashion market can be blamed for committing many crimes against the environment as well as people, it is most obvious when it comes to fast fashion. Since the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh in 2013, which killed thousands of garment workers, the focus of the fashion industry on ethical as well as sustainable fashion has rose immensely. Every year since then, numerous organizations, such as Fashion Revolution, aim to educate people on the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and people as well as motivates consumers to buy more consciously. Nonetheless, despite the growing interest in sustainability within the fashion industry, there are still no shared sets of sustainable standards. This leads companies quickly sound more sustainable than they really are. The majority of the big fast-fashion companies claiming sustainability credentials are guilty of greenwashing as they appeal to consumer demand for responsible fashion while still producing too much as a whole and without putting in the work to produce ethically or providing accurate information.


Photo Source: Everlane


What Is Sustainable & Ethical Fashion

Overall, sustainable fashion relates to environmentally-friendly manufacturing and consuming fashion, making sure consumers and companies cause less harm to the environment, avoid to use up all the planet’s natural resources but use recycled materials as well as recycle in general. While many brands endeavor a circular fashion system, the truth is that the industry is still far away from an ideal circular fashion economy as per Fashion Revolutions Founder Orsola de Castro. Thus, numerous organizations push the focus towards “slow fashion”, advocating for a slowing down of the production and consumption rate as well as for a holistic approach to fashion, mindful manufacturing, natural materials and extending the garments’ lifecycle. In comparison to sustainable fashion, ethical fashion targets more the social impact of the industry and covers a broad range of aspects such as safety, working conditions, living wages, health, forced labor, child labor, fair treatment of animals and cruelty-free fashion.


Photo Source: Unsplash


The Slow End of Fast Fashion

In the light of those movements, Forever 21 - the US brand that pushed to popularize fast fashion in America through its $5 fashion pieces and bustling shop - filed for bankruptcy in 2019. While the market has faced an even stronger backlash surrounding concerns about worker safety and the environmental impact of quickly disposable garments, Forever 21’s bankruptcy has provoked questions around the future of fast fashion more widely. 

All those aspects are strongly pointing towards the slow end of fast fashion. Sustainable and ethical living has become the new symbol of status. Particularly young buyers prefer to shop from labels that are creating garments in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Moreover, the highly technology savvy and demanding Gen-Z is very much rejecting fast fashion brands’ efforts. A recent example includes H&M, which is pushing sustainability and transparency hard, while facing a constantly immense backlash. In the social media era, “woke” consumers have more than ever the power to either rally behind or boycott huge companies. This inspired a full-blown watchdog movement on Instagram where social media accounts such as Diet Prada and Estée Laundry post unapologetic, unfiltered commentary on current industry pariahs and controversies. Moreover, the rise in prominence of climate campaigners such as Fashion Revolution and Greta Thunberg indicates that the society is ready for protesting and engaging on issues related to social and environmental aspects. Fashion Revolution’s “Who Made My Clothes” hashtag introduced in 2015 has been shared over half a million times on social media, pushing the pressure on labels to offer more insights about the conditions for laborer’s throughout their supply chain.


Photo Source: Diet Prada


But The Ambitions Are Much Grander

Even though transparency is the first step towards a sustainable and ethical supply chain, this effort is not enough anymore. Where activism is shaping the zeitgeist, for fashion companies with sustainable and conscious practices at the forefront of their mission, the need for radical body diversity and culture inclusivity/fluidity is all the more pressing. A recent example includes the leading sustainable fashion brand Reformation which received an immense backlash as it has been hiding a racist corporate culture. Overall, inclusivity is perhaps the most important virtue when it comes to conversations surrounding ethical fashion. Younger “woke” consumers increasingly back their beliefs with their buying habits, favoring purpose driven labels (B-Corporations which are balancing profit and purpose) that are aligned with their values. While the Millennials – the previous generation - had a greener focus, Gen-Zers focus even more on social issues, reflected in campaigns such as #timesup, #metoo and #blacklivesmatter.


Photo Source: Fashion Revolution


COVID-19 Has Worsened the Situation

It is undoubtedly that COVID-19 has worsened the situation down the supply chain. Not only did many of the 1,000 retailers who source products from Bangladesh fail to strictly implement health measures but have cancelled or put on hold orders. On the 7th of April, 953 million pieces of readymade garment for export worth US$ 3.05 billion have been cancelled as the brands invoked the force majeure clause, where financial risk and responsibility is being pushed down the supply chain respectively towards the already very weak party, even though brands would have both the resources and the ability to pay the already made garments. Thus, brands did not take accountability for orders already produced and the expenses accompanied but instead prioritized their shareholders. It is among a small handful of brands such as H&M, Zara, All Birds and Calvin Klein that have committed to keep paying for orders that have already been produced or that are in production.


Photo Source: Everlane


Sustainable Sourcing at Scale

But what do we do about the fact that high street fashion is the only affordable option for the majority of people, thus reviving the inequality between rich and poor? The expectation that people stop purchasing fast fashion at once is not realistic as it will take time for big brands to get prices right when it comes down to their sustainable and ethical offering. However, it is undoubtedly that globalization and fast fashion have created an unrealistic and unsustainable price point for products and ultimately, have led to conspicuous consumption. It is time that the whole system and consumers’ attitude towards consumption change dramatically. We must do “fashion differently” by divest in growth to invest in social and environmental prosperity as per Orsola de Castro. Thus, in the long-term fashion’s new must-have is sustainable sourcing at scale. Big fashion companies must deliver sustainable and ethical fashion at speed and scale, harnessing innovations in technology, materials, standards, processes as well as communication. The system will need to find the right balance between conscious consumption and a circular fashion economy. Nonetheless, as the system is still far away from the future trend of a conscious and especially circular fashion economy, the current manifestos include the increase of the longevity of garments (linear economy) as well as reinvention of purchasing practices and the insistence of holding the fashion industry accountable to its claims. Yep, transparency will give the consumers back the right and ability to make their own value judgment.

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LATEST LOOKS


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SUSTAINABLE & ETHICAL

BRANDS FROM

YOUR COUNTRY!

🇩🇰 🇫🇮 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 🇬🇷 🇪🇸 🇨🇭 🇵🇹 🇬🇧 🇦🇺 🇮🇩 🇭🇰 🇰🇷 🇨🇴 🇸🇻 🇺🇸


GIFT CARDS 🧁🎀

Would you like to surprise someone with sustainable clothing? Do you want to convince someone that sustainable clothing is the future? Or do you have a friend who loves slow fashion? Then this voucher is just for you! Choose between a beautiful virtual gift card you can easily print out at home or select the physical voucher which we'll send you with our signature premium envelope.