At Voya, we are proud to call ourselves a slow fashion brand.
The fashion industry is currently dominated by what is often referred to as 'fast-fashion'. Big clothing retailer chains dominate the shopping scene in cities and provide a high variety of the latest trends, often on high rotation. The constant availability of the latest 'look and feel' plays a role in driving and supporting a high consumption lifestyle that many individuals consider to be a normal way of living.
The social and environmental impact of the fashion industry has not gone un-noticed. According to the United Nations Environment Program, the fashion industry produces approximately 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. It is also wasteful, producing 20% of global wastewater, while 85% of all fashion items produced end up in landfills each year. This is the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes going to landfill each second.
There are also other unintended side-effects of the fashion industry. One example is the equivalent of 50 million plastic bottles entering the ocean in the form of microfibres that is the result of people washing clothes made from polyester or other fabrics made from recycled plastic. While sustainable fabrics and materials are gradually becoming more popular, the fashion industry is still the second-largest consumer of water worldwide, while less than 1% of the material produced for clothes is recycled into new clothing.
One response to the 'fast-fashion' approach is the 'slow-fashion' movement. At Voya we are proud to call ourselves a slow fashion brand, as the name suggests, slow fashion involves fashion items that are designed to last more than just one or two seasons. Also, to be more sustainable and less wasteful, we design and order a small quantity for our store and simply reorder when the styles have a greater demand.
Slow fashion also embraces the concept of 'less is more'. By playing a role in reducing mass production and wasteful practices, the slow fashion concept is also not encouraging impulsive buying. Slow fashion is essentially catering to consumers that are more intentional about their purchases and clear about what they need.
Building on this, slow fashion enterprises, such as ourselves at Voya, also place a premium on sustainable supply chains, ethical conditions for workers, and embody a commitment to continuous improvement. Some slow fashion companies are also experimenting with new low-impact, fabrics, and materials, such as biodegradable algae, plant fiber from waste streams (such as pineapple leaf fiber), and nylon from fishing nets, that without recovery would continue to cause environmental damage. In the current climate of a global pandemic, a forced pause on continuous consumption may be the much-needed window for a different paradigm to emerge and for a 'new textiles economy' to thrive.