Making sustainable footwear in a fast-fashion world
Do you ever wonder how fashion retailers can keep up with current fashion trends at such rapid speed while maintaining low prices? The way these fast fashion stores can keep producing the trendiest styles, while also keeping costs extremely low, is something we should wonder. However, it seems that trends and profits are all that matter when it comes to these fast-fashion retailers. What happens then to quality, sustainability, and environmental concerns?
So, what exactly is ‘Fast-Fashion’?
It is a production system where fashion is produced at low cost, high volume, at incredibly high speed (from design conceptualization to being in retail).
Fast fashion is not as harmless as you may think it is – the constant rate of overturn for the items being produced depletes our natural resources and adds to our ever-growing landfills. On average, the construction of a shoe itself requires about twenty parts. Multiply those twenty parts by the millions of shoes that are being produced by fast-fashion retailers every year, plus each shoe box and shipping label… and that’s a lot of potential shoe production waste! And since these shoes are cheap to produce, any unsold shoes are easily disposed of in a landfill or incinerated. Apart from land pollution, incinerators release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere leading to serious air pollution. Not so harmless after all, right?
Thankfully, many shoe companies, like TOUFIE, are reinventing their processes to become more sustainable. Here’s a quick guide to identifying brands that are eco-conscious.
- Quality products that last
For a start, choose brands that produce high-quality products. High-quality products can be seen through the choice of material for the product, the quality of the craftsmanship and the price. Usually, they tend to be slightly pricier than normal fast fashion items because they are usually produced in an ethical working environment with better materials. However, be careful to not equate price to quality. Do ensure that the companies do not place a ridiculous mark-up on their products. For instance, you can find a good pair of handcrafted lambskin shoes priced at about $200 to $300. Of course, you must examine the craftsmanship and the quality of the lambskin for yourself. If they are priced way too high (for example, beyond $300), then chances are, you are paying a severely marked-up price. And if they are too low, it could simply be because they fall into the fast fashion category thus, allowing them to produce cheaply and at a fast rate.
- Not mass-produced
Choose brands that do not overstock their raw materials or overproduce their products. As it is rare for all these products to get 100% sell-out rate (sold out), it is wiser to choose brands that produce in limited quantities. These ensure that the companies do not cause unnecessary wastage due to overproduction and overstocking of raw materials. In short, pick brands that produce only what is needed. Although the lead time to restock the out of stock items will be longer than fast fashion brands, at least you know that your product is produced sustainably.
- Reduction in season-cycle
Instead of aggressively keeping up with fads and trends, opt for brands that produce timeless products that go beyond trend. For instance, instead of the fast-fashion season cycle (frequency at which new collection are introduced) of up to 52 times in a year, opt for brands that slow fashion down with 2 to 5 season cycles in a year.
There you have it, a quick guide to sustainable shopping for a sustainable lifestyle. Shop wisely with brands that care for the earth and its future. After all, we believe that sustainability is our responsibility, not an opportunity.