By: Dominique McIntee, Class of 2018
Earth Day arrived and went, as you could probably tell through the countless nature pictures we saw on Instagram. With everyone expressing their devotion to Earth and its beauty on this day, it’s important to focus on our environment after April 22nd, specifically centering the discussion on how fashion, specifically fast fashion, destroys our Earth. On the contrary, it’s also crucial to show how River + Stone aims to not further this destruction.
Fast Fashion, also known as disposable fashion, is a term “used by fashion retailers to express that designs move quickly from catwalk to capture current fashion trends” (Hines, Tony and M. Bruce). Fashion is big business, with many large retailers, such as Zara, H&M, and Forever 21, realizing and leveraging this fact for profit. How is maximum profit achieved? Through quick and inexpensive manufacturing that offers current clothing at low prices for the mainstream consumer. These retailers, as a result, reap monetary benefits, as well as the consumer who can buy styles that align with contemporary trends at bare minimum prices.
But there is still a hefty price we are forced to pay, one that no one thinks about after leaving a store. The price is environmental, incurring from the damage we contribute when purchasing fast fashion. Elizabeth Cline, author of Where Does Discarded Clothing Go?, focuses on the rise of consumption as a contributor to this damage, stating that, “Americans are purchasing five times the amount of clothing than they did in 1980. As a result, developed countries are producing more and more garments each season. The United States imports more than 1 billion garments annually from China alone” (Cline).
The numbers are staggering, and the consequences are even more adverse. Our seemingly harmless purchasing habits result in extreme textile waste growing each year. In 2015, just two years ago, it was estimated that “the average American household produces 70 pounds of textile waste every year. When you compare that number to the entire country, there is roughly 10.5 million tons of textile waste being thrown away” (“Council for Textile Recycling”). Sounds horrifying? This fact just scratches the surface: fast fashion, throughout all stages of textile production, creates lasting environmental damage to our aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric ecosystems through the release of greenhouse gases, pesticides, and dyes (Ecowatch).
There’s clearly so much at stake. Despite environmental consequences, fast fashion has evolved the store-consumer relationship, and is evidently popular; and due to this, it’s not going away soon. River + Stone, however, veers from the fast fashion model, while preserving a strong and beloved store-consumer relationship.
River + Stone is developed and made by students and faculty within the Fashion program, for the Marist Community. Unlike large retailers, where clothing is mass produced in dangerous conditions, River + Stone provides a safe, creative space for students to build unique styles. These styles are authentic and tailored with the Marist community in mind, fusing diverse Marist experiences, perspectives, and fashion backgrounds as sources of inspiration. Fashion here isn’t fast fashion. It isn’t mass produced, but rather, it’s constructed with care to ensure reliable, top-notch quality.
There are 363 days until Earth Day 2018. That’s why we must understand that today’s fashion has transitioned into an industry that shapes our environment. River + Stone applies this understanding into production: a true, non-transient testament of environmental gratitude that goes beyond the Instagram-worthy nature picture.
Cline, Elizabeth (July 18, 2014). “Where Does Discarded Clothing Go?”. The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
“Fast Fashion Is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil » Page 2 of 3”. EcoWatch. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
Hines, Tony, and M. Bruce. 2001. Fashion marketing – Contemporary issues. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.