Why fashion should slow down

Is it time for the industry to take a few cues from the food scene?

September 7, 2016

By Amanda Ross / Photo: Mathieu Ridelle

“If you see a beautiful Egyptian cotton shirt and it’s $19.99, you have to ask yourself, how do they do that?” says Gary Lenett, founder of local athleisure brand Dish and Duer. It’s just one Vancouver label fighting against the disposable nature, material excess and human costs associated with “fast fashion”—a trend that he says will see 67 pounds of clothing per person end up in landfills this year.

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Local athleisure brand Dish and Duer wants people to ask how its clothing is made.

“The truth is, you get what you pay for, and someone is losing along the way to give you that shirt for that price,” Lenett says. And while Dish and Duer manufactures overseas in Pakistan, its 24 factory workers are paid a living wage, rather than by the piece, ensuring both quality of life for the employees and a quality product for the end consumer. For Lenett, a thoughtful process is paramount, no matter where something is crafted.

Local designer Nicole Bridger is of the same mindset, convinced that more people want to know about the process of how their clothes are made (already the growing standard in the food industry). “Good design must also take into consideration what the impact is: how the product is made, how it functions and what happens to it at the end of its life cycle,” she says. She works with low-impact dyes as well as sustainable hemp, linen, silk and organic cotton—and designs looks to be relevant for five-to-10 years.

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(Photo by: Mathieu Ridelle.)

Perhaps no brand is more antithetical to fast fashion than Hermès, who this month brings 10 of its artisans and their awls, scissors and stones to Vancouver for the Hermès at Work exhibit from September 21 to 25. The Parisian retailer is here to publicly showcase old-world métiers for an extravaganza of craftsmanship and hands-on mastery writ large in live demonstrations including silk rolling, leather work and porcelain hand-painting.

Whether it’s a global brand’s timeless handmade scarf or a local designer producing fashion consciously, clothing should always look good—both on and off the rack.

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