This month we are continuing our focus on the ethics and sustainability of fashion.
We believe this is a hugely important topic, not only because of how environmentally and socially damaging the fashion industry can be but also because of how much positive power for change we have as consumers.
As much as we love a fashion bargain, the “churn and burn” model employed by most of the lower-cost global fashion brands has caused consumer demand for fast fashion in recent years to reach fever pitch. Research shows that the average consumer bought 60% more items of clothing in 2014 than 2000, yet only kept them for half the time(1). In fact, some estimates suggest that many consumers will discard cheaper garments after wearing them just seven or eight times. This leads to a ghastly amount of waste, with 8,625kgs of clothing heading to landfill every second — that’s enough to fill the Sydney Harbour in a year.(2)
As well as the staggering environmental cost, there is a major societal impact caused by supply chains that tend to put profits ahead of people. In developing countries, garment workers are often subjected to unsafe work environments, gruellingly long hours, and are horrendously underpaid.
This is why we are proud to work with and support ethical fashion brands like local Melbourne label, Metta. Rather than following the fast fashion trends, Metta is all about slow fashion, creating trans-seasonal, easy to wear clothing from natural fibre fabrics. We caught up with Lynn from Metta to learn more about their fashion philosophy, and what being ethical means to them.
How important is ethical fashion to your customers?
With the increase in conversation circling ethical fashion, there is definitely a portion of our customers who really care about where our products are made and the reasons behind why we do what we do: using 100% natural fibres. At Metta, we believe it is up to us to inform our customers of the benefits of buying natural fibres in order to inspire more care and questioning around ethical production practises.
How have you noticed the fashion industry changing in recent years? Do you think it’s moving towards being more ethical overall, or do you think the fast-churn model is getting worse?
There are a lot of small businesses popping up with a focus on ethics, thanks to more consumers demanding conscious consumption. It feels like the fast fashion model is also becoming more conscious of this too, however, I feel it is too little too late. There is far too much greenwashing happening from the big brands which can then muddy the waters in regards to small businesses trying to do the right thing. I feel as though in order to move forward, sustainable and ethical choices in production shouldn’t be a choice at all, but rather as the only way to better all areas of the future of the fashion industry.
How do ethics impact your brand and business?
We have always had a strong emphasis on using natural fibres throughout the entire body of the garment, and manufacturing only in small runs. We only use cotton thread and try to eliminate as much plastic as we can when it comes to transportation and distribution of our goods. These little things are not the norm when it comes to production, however, they are essential to us. When plastic does arrive at our door, we reuse this where we can to ensure it doesn’t go to landfill – reinventing its life. At Metta our design philosophy is for everyday wear that can be worn and worn again, however, we do keep in mind that our garments will eventually return to the earth. With the garments made of 100% natural fibres, we ensure the entire outfit will be able to break down. These are all integral to our design philosophy as we believe the future is worth fighting for.
Ethics is a massive topic, and no brand can be perfect! So what are the core values that you are most passionate about?
Perfect, we are not but, we are currently on a mission to improve all aspects in regards to ethics. Our key passion with Metta is keeping it natural and having as little impact on the planet as possible. We are striving to make this follow through in all areas of production. Not only do we believe the planet needs nurturing, but an emphasis on the people who make our clothes is extremely integral to the brand. We believe using reputable manufacturers is so important because no person should ever be subjected to unsafe or poorly paid work.
What are you most proud of about your brand and products?
We love our product and what we have achieved so far as a brand, however, it is the team I am most proud of. We are all from creative backgrounds with a great appreciation for quality, workmanship and textiles, yet we’re all able to bring something different to the table. It’s really fun and exciting to work in such as a creative team and I am excited for what’s to come — so stay tuned!
What can we do as consumers to encourage a more ethical industry?
Education is key! Having conversations with one another about your clothes, where they are made and what they are made of is so important. We need to stand together to support the brands ethically made, cherish artisanal work, and buy with the intention to value while remembering to also give new life to the old. I believe it is so important to support ethical brands as well as to support the brands that are striving for this. We can only do it together.