Students lead the way on ethical fashion

by | Oct 15, 2019 | Headlines, Life

Kyshia Osei, Arts Reporter

Clare Palmer, a Humber Fashion Arts and Business student, doesn’t just have a passion for clothes, she is also concerned about the effects of fast fashion.

Palmer, who is also the owner and curator of Specadirt Vintage, said she’s concerned about the effects the large consumption of fast fashion has on the environment.

“One of the things I like to do with my business is to promote the sustainable side of it and tell people when they buy a pair of used jeans, they’ve just saved 5,500 litres of water,” she said. “It lets them know that they’re making an impact by not going out and buying a $20 pair of jeans from a fast fashion retailer.”

Clare Palmer, who owns and curates Specadirt Vintage, is concerned about the effects the large consumption of fast fashion has on the environment. (Kyshia Osei)

Fast fashion is inexpensive mass-produced trendy clothing that is cheap enough to throw away once they go out of style. Sustainable fashion is quickly gaining popularity as consumers are beginning to think twice about the effects fast fashion has on the environment.

“It’s just not a sustainable practice to be using oil to create polyester, which is like 60 per cent of our clothing,” Palmer said. “Or to just be using polyester and cotton, which makes up like 85 per cent of the textiles we’re using today.”

But bodies come in various sizes, which can make living sustainably more challenging for others.

Taylor Storr, another Fashion Arts and Business student at Humber and the owner of sustainable Toronto street fashion brand, CONQUER, said she has a tough time finding used clothing that suits her.

“When I go to the thrift store, I never leave with stuff because I can never find anything that fits me properly or the way I want it to. I kind of get stuck having to buy new things,” Storr said.

Both retailers made their brands size inclusive to ensure anyone can both do their part for the environment while being fashionable.

For new consumers who want to try and live more ethically sustainable lives, the issue than became who to trust.

(Left to right) Naomi Nachmani (KOTN), Taylor Klick (Influence for Impact), Ashley McFarlane (Omi Woods), Eric Dales (TAMGA Designs), Anitta Toma (Green Story) at a WEAR panel. (Kyshia Osei)

The term greenwashing refers to the form of spin in which the act of marketing that is better for the environment is used to promote a perception of an organization’s products.

For example, a company may advertise a product that is in fact “green”, but the product comes in plastic packaging.

“I think for me, in terms of green washing… I had to really step back when I was looking at being a more sustainable brand and think of why am I doing this,” said Ashley McFarlane, creator of Omi Woods.“Why am I making? What am l producing? There’s already so much out there.”

McFarlane, who was at the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) conference earlier this month in Toronto, said she practices ethical sourcing and sustainability within her business.

She wanted people, who bought her jewelry, inspired by African and Caribbean cultures, to pass it down from generation to generation to end the cycle of improperly discarded metals.

The effects of fast fashion left behind mountains of damaged goods, and wasted resources.

“We’re going to run out of water, we’re going to run out of oil,” Palmer said. “Then the landfills will be full of what we used, and wore and didn’t cherish.

“Because fast fashion is just poorly made clothing made of non-renewable resources,” she said.

Palmer said the fashion industry needs diversity in their production, and what the industry is using to create has a huge impact on the environment that is not sustainable.