People usually think it cannot be such a hard thing to make clothes, but in reality, it requires many different steps, and the problem with the current way the fashion industry works lies within these steps and how they are done, especially by big brands.
It all starts with the textiles…or not really?
It is clear that after being inspired and drawing the designs, the right fabrics need to be selected. However, we should think of how and where these fabrics designers and brands use are made. If they are synthetic, they can be made anywhere around the world in big factories, and their processes usually require huge amounts of non-reusable energy, and thousands of litres of water. In case of natural textiles made from cotton, hemp, silk etc. the raw materials grow usually outside of Europe, and they can be processed in many different countries before a final supplier will offer the rolls of fabric for brands. When producers aim to make the textiles for the cheapest possible price in many cases the materials transported from one country to a different continent leads to sad fact, even before a garment is created, it causes so much air pollution.
Knowing the origin and all stops of the fabric would be essential but sadly only few brands care about that yet.
The next steps
When the chosen fabrics arrive, brands need to create the first samples of the designs, this is the technical part which requires a lot of expertise and experience. This process can take some time, different variations need to be tried, but this is the most exciting part, when something seen before only on paper comes to real life. When finally, the whole concept seems to be ready it should be fitted on a model, because the final desire is that it should look good on real bodies. Again, many things can be changed, or done differently, it is a very detailed and slow process in order to get a really good fit, so customers will be less likely to return clothes due to wrong fit or size.
When there is a final prototype, the well-known mass production starts. It depends on brands, but many labels aim to keep costs as low as possible so often having their garments sewn in developing countries where labour regulations are not so strict and workers do their jobs for extremely low wages. Of course, there are exceptions, but the lack of transparency makes it very hard for consumers to actually know where and how the garment was made. Even if it says “Made in China” we cannot know what the circumstances in the factory are, and how much workers are being payed.
After the stock is made, it is transported to warehouses where they are packed and shipped to stores or in case of online shops to customers based on their orders on the website.
The most well-known part of fashion is the world of retail. Here comes all the marketing, beautiful stores, exciting events and amazing social media contents. People tend to go shopping after work, or at the weekends with the family to get their hands on these well marketed clothes, or to catch the cheap items on sale.
While only the last few sentences are that most people think fashion is, it is a more complex industry with a very long and complicated supply chain. The problems are obviously needed to solve soon because this is not a sustainable system at all. In all this consumers can have their own part by asking questions from their favourite brands, and deciding consciously every time they go window shopping.